The Detective in American Fiction, Film, and Television

Overview

The detective, as a preeminent figure in all forms of American popular culture, has become the subject of a variety of theoretical exploration. By investigating that figure, these essays demonstrate how the genre embodies all the contradictions of American society and the ways in which literature and the media attempt to handle those contradictions. Issues of class, gender, and race; the interaction of film and literature; and generic evolution are fundamental to any ...

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Overview

The detective, as a preeminent figure in all forms of American popular culture, has become the subject of a variety of theoretical exploration. By investigating that figure, these essays demonstrate how the genre embodies all the contradictions of American society and the ways in which literature and the media attempt to handle those contradictions. Issues of class, gender, and race; the interaction of film and literature; and generic evolution are fundamental to any understanding of the American detective in all of his or her forms.

Beginning with essays about Raymond Chandler's treatment of women, Part I concentrates on writers of the genre whose detectives embody aspects of American culture in the 20th century. Through examination of the work of Elmore Leonard, Chester Himes, Sue Grafton, and others, these essays look at the influence of film on literature, how ethnicity affects the genre's conventions, and gender issues. Part II looks closely at specific detectives in the media and demonstrates how the film detective has gone from one who upholds the moral order to one who contributes to the continuation of evil. A study of television detectives confirms the necessity of formula and variation to sustain a detective over many seasons.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
The first seven contributions discuss the American crime writer in the tradition of Raymond Chandler, including other Americans who share his approach or outlook including Elmore Leonard, Chester Himes, Faye Kellerman, Sara Paretsky, and Sue Grafton. The remaining five contributions discuss film and television detectives and crime detection including Polanski's and Dashiell Hammett's poetics. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

JEROME H. DELAMATER is Professor of Communication at the School of Communication, Hofstra University.

RUTH PRIGOZY is Professor of English at Hofstra University.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
I Raymond Chandler and American Detective Fiction 1
1 Anne Riordan: Raymond Chandler's Forgotten Heroine 3
2 Order, Error, and the Novels of Raymond Chandler 13
3 Raymond Chandler's Pencil 27
4 Film in Fiction: The Real and the Reel in Elmore Leonard 35
5 "Aggravating the Reader": The Harlem Detective Novels of Chester Himes 45
6 Murdering Traditional Assumptions: The Jewish-American Mystery 57
7 Gender (De)Mystified: Resistance and Recuperation in Hard-Boiled Female Detective Fiction 71
II The Detective in Film and Television 83
8 Bending the Bow: The Verdict (1946) and the Hollywood Victorian Detective 85
9 "The Injustice of It All": Polanski's Revision of the Private Eye Genre in Chinatown 93
10 Miller's Crossing: The Poetics of Dashiell Hammett 103
11 The "Very Simplicity of the Thing": Edgar Allan Poe and the Murders He Wrote 111
12 Done to Death?: Formula and Variation in Perry Mason 123
Index 131
About the Editors and Contributors 137
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