Friday, December 07, 2012

"Take this, Job, and shove it"

So, how is the Book of Job like a crime novel, anyhow? Like many crime novels, not all of them Scandinavian, it has an ominous prologue before it gets to the good part.

And here's some of that good part, from Stephen Mitchell's translation:
"Why is there light for the wretched,
life for the bitter-hearted,
who long for death, who seek it
as if it were buried treasure,
who smile when they reach the graveyard
and laugh as their pit is dug."
That's noir, but it sounds more like a noir author or reader than a noir protagonist, most of whom go more meekly or at least resignedly to their fates.  It's as if one of David Goodis' wretched protagonists sat down to write his own story instead of letting Goodis do it.
***
And now, turning from the substantive to the atmospheric side of noir, here's a view right around my corner, photo by your humble blogkeeper.

© Peter Rozovsky 2012

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7 Comments:

Blogger R.T. said...

So, our previous "conversation" about Stephen Mitchell's translation must have been a bit of a provocation. Now I am likewise provoked into reassessing The Book of Job in terms of noir fiction. I would first note--before I turn to Job--the following: Detective fiction almost always seeks to reestablish stasis out of chaos, with the detective as the cooperative catalyst; Job, on the other hand, in the midst of chaos, simply seeks understanding, which is not forthcoming since the divine detective refuses to cooperate.

December 07, 2012  
Blogger R.T. said...

POSTSCRIPT: Now, I am turning my attention (again) to reading (again) Mitchell's translation. (Note: The Alter translation was not at my library, but I will be requesting a copy via interlibrary loan.)

December 07, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Don't forget that by no means is all noir fiction detective fiction.

The divine in the prologue is like a distracted mob boss.

December 07, 2012  
Blogger R.T. said...

YHWH does not get any more friendly or approachable as the tale goes on and finishes.

(Note: I am not really much of a noir fan, going not much further than Hammett and Chandler; I tend to prefer the golden age style of detective/mystery fiction. Yeah, I know, that makes me really, really old fashioned.)

December 07, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

God is assigned a role quite other than that of detective in this translation:

He does not care; so I say /
he murders both the pure and the wicked.

December 07, 2012  
Blogger R.T. said...

Yes, but detectives in fiction often play the role of gods, seeking to restore and maintain order (i.e., being omnipotent in a unique way) through some types of special (almost superhuman) perception (i.e., omniscience), and--consciously or unconsciously--the detective's (divine's) cohorts and others (supplicants) find themselves grudgingly grateful (giving thanks) for the detective's contributions to the punishment (of the evil bastards) and safety of others (the rest of us).

Yeah, that is a bit of a stretch!

December 07, 2012  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

In Golden Age detective stories, maybe, but even there, they tend to the more mischievous or troublesome members ot the pantheon. But that's detective stories; this is noir -- just as that's the rest of the Bible; this is Job.

December 07, 2012  

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