RE: RARA-AVIS: Hammett's women

James Rogers (
Tue, 26 Oct 1999 12:49:27 -0500

At 10:27 AM 10/26/99 -0500, you wrote:
 i don't want to oversimplify it too much, but it always
>struck me that i could imagine how hammett would describe his women before
>they showed up, and they all are these dreamy ideals. perhaps part of the
>reason it struck me so was that i was reading chandler for the first time
>while i was discovering hammett, and i always found his women very quirky
>and individual, both in appearance and behavior. chandler's women have
>wonderful flaws (physical and otherwise) that, to me, makes them infinitely
>more memorable.

          That is interesting, because Chandler's women are the ones that strike me as wish fufillment stuff. Dinah, from Hammett's _Red Harvest_, stuck me as rather complicated - particularly in her relationship with the
"lunger" who lived with her. She's somewhat likeable, for a whore and a blackmailer, but far from admirable. And, while she has a certain "sex appeal", I seem to recall that the Op said she was not particularly good-looking.

          By contrast, Chandler's women always seem to be either Saint or Devil, which matches the common male adolescent mode of perception.

          Chandler was the author who originally started me reading this stuff, but as I got older I came to the opinion that Hammett was a far more subtle writer.


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