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WikiProject Novels (Rated B-class, Mid-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Novels, an attempt to build a comprehensive and detailed guide to novels, novellas, novelettes and short stories on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, you can edit one of the articles mentioned below, or visit the project page, where you can join the project and contribute to the general Project discussion to talk over new ideas and suggestions.
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Does anyone know- does the term derive from hardboiled eggs, or from boiled leather? -FZ 13:47, 25 Oct 2004 (UTC)

I disagree with the statement that the word "hardboiled" is an "understatement." It's simply a metaphor comparing the process of boiling an egg (or leather?), to the whiltling away of the sentimentality of crime fiction. Calling the genre hard boiled is not to compare it to an egg, but to say that "this fiction has been hardened, in the way that boiling hardens things." There is no over or understatement implied by this metaphor, it is left completely open to personal interpratation. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:32, 23 June 2010 (UTC)

Writing Style of the Article[edit]

The section on Noir doesn't read much like an encyclopedia-- in fact, it seems like there's a bit of too-clever-for-its-own-good writing in there. It is very clever indeed, but it doesn't belong in Wikipedia. (talk) 04:26, 12 May 2008 (UTC)

Hardboiled prose[edit]

There's also a stylistic side of the concept "hardboiled":

It's not necessarily the hero, nor the story, that's hardboiled; it might be the prose itself. Nothing "soft" or superflous; only the essentials.

Thus, the term hardboiled is often applied to the writings of Hemingway and authors influenced by his style.

At least in Norway, this use of the term is known from the 1930s, long before crime fiction were recognized by the literary establishment.---------- T.B.Hansen


Following on from the style of the prose, it is a shame there is nothing on the fact that many of these detectives narrate what they are doing for the reader/viewer to hear?--Timtak (talk) 11:43, 10 February 2011 (UTC)


Any idea who coined the term, and when ? -- Beardo 07:18, 26 July 2006 (UTC)

Excellent question. I recall coming across a verifiable usage that was very early, if not definitively the first. I'll try to track it down.--DCGeist 07:57, 26 July 2006 (UTC)

In his essay "The Simple Art of Murder" (1944), Chandler describes Hammett as "spare, frugal, hard-boiled" and his works as "hard-boiled chronicles" - Any advance on that ? -- Beardo 01:56, 27 July 2006 (UTC)


"Hardboiled fiction, most commonly associated with detective stories, is distinguished by an unsentimental portrayal of crime, violence, and sex." -- I think we might want to tweak the word "unsentimental" here. (I'm trying to make a somewhat subtle point here, so my apologies if I fail to do so.) It seems to me that the "hardboiled" genre falls into the romantic (as opposed to "rationalistic") artistic tradition.

From Romanticism: "... it stressed strong emotion as a source of aesthetic experience, placing a new emphasis on such emotions as trepidation, [and] horror ... Romanticism elevated the achievements of what it perceived as misunderstood heroic individuals and artists that altered society, and legitimized the individual imagination as a critical authority which permitted freedom ... There was a strong recourse to historical and natural inevitability in the representation of its ideas."

Since the romantic genre focusses on feelings ("sentiment") rather than on the rational, it seems to me that it's not correct to describe the hardboiled genre as "unsentimental" ("without feelings"). The modern police procedural genre has moved in this direction, but insofar as it is without emotions it is not "hardboiled" (it's just about bureacrats in forensics punching the clock).

My apologies to those who've read this far -- as I say, I'm rather belaboring the point here. -- 15:43, 4 August 2006 (UTC)

I think your point about hardboiled fiction deriving from the romantic tradition is an excellent one—and the heart of your quote, "Romanticism elevated the achievements of what it perceived as misunderstood heroic individuals and artists that altered society, and legitimized the individual imagination as a critical authority which permitted freedom," is exactly on point in demonstrating the connection. However, hardboiled fiction clearly embodies a significant deviation from the tradition that gave birth to it: it takes a cynical view of emotion (i.e., sentimental expression) and of claims that human behavior is rooted in sincere sentiment. The seminal detective protagonists of hardboiled fiction raise the suppression of emotion to an art form, and the characteristic "lean, direct" writing style likewise tends to deny access to the sort of "strong emotional" effects associated with classic romantic literature. This is not to say that the most renowned books in the hardboiled tradition fail to provoke a susbstantial affective response by the reader at their conclusion--many do, they just achieve it in a way very different from other genres rooted in romanticism. Best, Dan—DCGeist 21:54, 14 August 2006 (UTC)
In the article as it currently stands, the terms cynical and tough are sometimes used as synonyms, possibly with good reason (in this context). But I think not enough explanation is given to why the protagonists in these novels, when suppressing their own emotions, are deemed "cynical". Cynicism is a distrust of human nature because most humans are viewed as selfish and insincere - but the protagonist would know his own motives and emotions 'from the inside'. So why does he then supposedly reject his own emotions? A little more explanation is needed to reveal the connection between the emotional repression and the cynicism (and the dishonest and violent situations the detective frequently deals with). (talk) 14:48, 9 February 2013 (UTC)

Last sentence of the first paragraph: "The attitude is conveyed through the detectives inner monologue describing to the audience what he is doing and feeling" Personally I don't believe the detective is necessarily male - could this be changed to "they"?