The Critical Response to Dashiell Hammett

Overview

As author of Red Harvest, The Maltese Falcon, The Thin Man, and other works, Dashiell Hammett is one of the most popular American writers of detective fiction. The critical response to his work has been diverse. Edmund Wilson saw little merit in his novels, while Raymond Chandler pointed to Hammett's originality and artistry. While some critics have considered it foolish to search for deeper meanings in his novels, many others have praised his writings as profound social and ...

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Overview

As author of Red Harvest, The Maltese Falcon, The Thin Man, and other works, Dashiell Hammett is one of the most popular American writers of detective fiction. The critical response to his work has been diverse. Edmund Wilson saw little merit in his novels, while Raymond Chandler pointed to Hammett's originality and artistry. While some critics have considered it foolish to search for deeper meanings in his novels, many others have praised his writings as profound social and literary documents.

Spanning more than 60 years of critical response, this collection includes contemporary reviews of Hammett's novels from the 1920s and 1930s as well as more than 20 full-length essays representing diverse critical approaches and assessments. It is the first collection of critical essays devoted to Hammett's work. Included are essays by major novelists such as Raymond Chandler and Ross Macdonald, along with pieces by influential literary critics such as Edmund Wilson and John G. Cawelti. Moreover, two of the essays were written specifically for this volume. An introductory essay traces the development of Hammett's literary reputation, and an extensive bibliography lists sources for further reading.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Contains reviews and criticism of Hammett's detective fiction, spanning some 60 years of critical response. Discusses works such as Red Harvest, The Dain Curse, The Maltese Falcon, and The Glass Key. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

Meet the Author

CHRISTOPHER METRESS is Assistant Professor of English at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama.

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Table of Contents

Series Foreword
Introduction
Chronology
Red Harvest
Reviews (1929) 1
From The Journals of Andre Gide 3
From The Pursuit of Crime 4
From Shadow Man: The Life of Dashiell Hammett 4
From Hammett: A Life at the Edge 5
From "Radical Anger: Dashiell Hammett's Red Harvest" 5
From Adventure, Mystery, and Romance 6
Forms of Labor in Dashiell Hammett's Red Harvest 12
The Dain Curse
Reviews (1929) 31
From Dashiell Hammett: A Casebook 33
From California Writers 33
From "The Harboiled Dicks" 34
The Dain Curse: The Epistemology of the Detective Story 34
"A Long and Laughable Story": Hammett's The Dain Curse and the Postmodern Condition 56
The Maltese Falcon
Reviews (1930) 69
From the Introduction to The Maltese Falcon 70
From "Why Do People Read Detective Stories?" 71
From Heroes and Highbrows and the Popular Mind 71
From "The Maltese Falcon: The Emergency of the Hero" 72
From Saint With a Gun 73
From Dashiell Hammett 73
Focus on The Maltese Falcon: The Metaphysical Falcon 74
Jameson, Genre, and Gumshoes: The Maltese Falcon as Inverted Romance 78
Dashiell Hammett and the Challenge of New Individualism: Rereading Red Harvest and The Maltese Falcon 89
The Glass Key
Reviews (1931) 109
From "Oh, Look - Two Good Books!" 111
A Letter to the Editor of Writer's Digest 111
On The Glass Key 112
From Mortal Consequences 113
On The Glass Key 113
From The New Wild West: The Urban Mysteries of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler 114
From "Setting the Record Straight on Dashiell Hammett: A Life" 114
The Riddle of the Key 115
Dashiell Hammett's Hard-Boiled Modernism 118
The Thin Man
Reviews (1934) 133
From an advertisement, The New York Times 136
From Shadow Man: The Life of Dashiell Hammett 136
From Private Investigations: The Novels of Dashiell Hammett 137
The Thin Man: The End Game 137
From Beans Falling: The Art of Dashiell Hammett's Novels 154
General Studies
From Murder for Pleasure: The Life and Times of the Detective Story 161
From "The Simple Art of Murder" 164
Dashiell Hammett's Private Eye: No Loyalty Beyond the Job 167
The Thin Man 174
The Poetics of the Private Eye: The Novels of Dashiell Hammett 178
Dashiell Hammett and the Continental Op 194
Homage to Dashiell Hammett 203
Finding out about Gender in Hammett's Detective Fiction: Generic Constraints or Transcendental Norms? 205
Dangerous Romance as Prelude to Love: Hammett's Woman in the Dark 227
Additional Readings 241
Index 249
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