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Author Topic: who wrote "it's a dirty job,but..."  (Read 2065 times)

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B L McAllister

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who wrote "it's a dirty job,but..."
« on: April 27, 2009, 11:54:44 AM »

I thought I remembered first encountering the widely used expression (or a variant pretty close to it), "It's a dirty job, but somebody has to do it," in a noir detective story from, probably the thirties. However, I haven't been able to remember what I was reading at the time, unless maybe The Maltese Falcon, which doesn't seem to be the right guess after all. My first encounter needn't have been with the originator of the expression anyway, but at the time I thought it was.  It's a book title by somebody named Moore, but he clearly came along much later.  Was any regular noir reader sufficiently struck by the expression to remember where it was used?  I thought maybe it occurred somewhere near "through these mean streets," etc.---and maybe it's one of those things (there are getting to be more and more of them) that I look right  past without seeing.
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Byron Leon McAllister.
Books by Byron and Kay McAllister can most easily be obtained as e-books or in print from the publisher at http://www.writewordsinc.com/ For "Undercover Nudist," the print version is an improved version of the ebook version. The others are the same in both formats.

Elena

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Re: who wrote "it's a dirty job,but..."
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2009, 09:32:19 AM »

Byron,
It strikes me as the sort of thing Alexander the Great would have said. Many many times, as he pillaged his way east.  He was big on justification. Or maybe it was the foot troops following Hannibal's elephants.  But, it definitely was not "Dirty Harry".

Sorry, that's what happens when my mind gets tickled and it's raining again.

Good luck,
Elena
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Charles King

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Re: who wrote "it's a dirty job,but..."
« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2009, 12:11:29 PM »

Hi Bryon,
I didnít have time to browse through all the entries. Iíll leave the legwork for you, but I didnít see a noir title on my brief glance at the following link. There was one from 1899, 1901, and a novel from 1916 listed, so Iím guessing the phrase is much older than the golden days of noir. Still about 700 hits popped up and your specific book might be there.

Too, for everyone else Ö I do historical research online often, and the greatest tool Iíve found in ten+ years is Google Books.

CKing   8)

http://books.google.com/books?as_q=&num=50&btnG=Google+Search&as_epq=it%27s+a+dirty+job&as_oq=&as_eq=&as_brr=0&as_pt=ALLTYPES&lr=&as_vt=&as_auth=&as_pub=&as_sub=&as_drrb_is=q&as_minm_is=0&as_miny_is=&as_maxm_is=0&as_maxy_is=&as_isbn=&as_issn=


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B L McAllister

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Re: who wrote "it's a dirty job,but..."
« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2009, 05:24:53 PM »

Didn't lead me to the book I could be fooling myself about in the first place, but I hadn't known about Google Books before this.  So naturally I immediately searched for my own three.  Only one of them is listed, and as publisher they listed not the actual publisher, but the POD printer ---which just happens to have been purchased by Amazon.   The other two didn't show up at all, even though the printer is the same for all three.
 
I had already googled "It's a dirty job, but somebody" already, and got lots of irrelevant references, but that wasn't via Google Books---just plain Google.  None of the ones I checked on then was actually early, and the list you implied is pretty long, so that I don't blame you at all for not pursuing them all.  I think maybe I won't either.  Your argument that the expression must really go way back seems sound, but if it's in Bartlett, I missed it.

Thanks for the information!

Byron
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Byron Leon McAllister.
Books by Byron and Kay McAllister can most easily be obtained as e-books or in print from the publisher at http://www.writewordsinc.com/ For "Undercover Nudist," the print version is an improved version of the ebook version. The others are the same in both formats.
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