Noir Strangulation (1): Terry Stewart and Vernon Sullivan

  • Alistair Rolls
Part of the Crime Files Series book series (CF)


Strangulation is at the heart of noir. In terms of motifs, it is the coming together of sex and violence. At the nexus of textuality and sexuality, it is where the assertion of authorial control and abandonment meld together in a danse macabre fusing death and pleasure. Of all the celebrated examples of literary strangulation Lennie’s, in Of Mice and Men, is perhaps the most famous. This murder is written indelibly into the landscape of thriller writing.1 Indeed, it is referenced by no lesser figure than James Bond himself:

Bond guessed that he would kill without interest or concern for what he killed and that he would prefer strangling. He had something of Lennie in Of Mice and Men, but his inhumanity would not come from infantilism but from drugs.2


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  1. 1.
    Lennie’s actions are all the more powerful, even graceful, for their simplicity: ‘And then she was still, for Lennie had broken her neck.’ John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men (London: Penguin, 2000), p. 90.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Ian Fleming, Casino Royale, Live and Let Die, Moonraker (London: Penguin, 2003), pp. 56–7.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    It is no coincidence that Tropic of Cancer was first published in Paris; Samuel Beckett and many black American writers had also found outlets there for their works. Miller would have been far too scandalous for the American market, a point that strengthens Vian’s claim for his disturbing tale to be more Latin than American. For a full account of Paris’s role in the publication of works by white Anglo-Saxon and African American writers in exile, see James Campbell, Paris Interzone (London: Vintage, 2001).Google Scholar
  4. 19.
    The case of Edmond Rougé was only one factor in the eventual banning of the novel. For a detailed account of events surrounding the publication of J’irai cracher sur vos tombes, see Noël Arnaud Le Dossier de l’affaire ‘J’irai cracher sur vos tombes’ (Paris: Bourgois, 1974).Google Scholar

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© Alistair Rolls and Deborah Walker 2009

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  • Alistair Rolls

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