Darkness Calls pp 211-235 | Cite as

Fatalism vs Free Will: Nihilism and Noir

  • Sue Short


The values espoused in neo-noir are the focus of the last chapter, locating an illicit appeal in characters who take control of their existence, defying ostensible rules and laws. Epitomising Nietzsche’s ‘Overman’ (although equally likely to be played by women), the pleasure of transgression acquires its darkest hue via a cynical endorsement of self-advancement, jettisoning any sense of compassion or conscience. However, a contrasting tendency is also evident in narratives that replace nihilism with a belief in our capacity to challenge injustice and secure change. Characters who wed a ‘will to power’ with a social conscience are thus deemed to be a genuinely transgressive development, promoting qualities of defiance and self-possession that does not hinge on ruthless avarice and self-interest, affirming a light amid the darkness.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sue Short
    • 1
  1. 1.Birkbeck University of LondonLondonUK

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