Re: RARA-AVIS: Crafty argument

From: Mark Blumenthal (
Date: 09 Feb 2000

 Mark Sullivan:

> Craft doesn't change? I beg to differ. Written in a different time,
> Hemingway's or Hammett's stripped-down writing might very well have been
> considered bad craft.

Noted critic and author Edmund Wilson(To the Finland Station, Memoirs of Hecate County) in a 1944 essay wrote, "Mr Hammett...infused the old formula of Sherlock Holmeswith a certain underworld brutality which gave readers a new shudder in the days when it was fashionable to be interested in gangsters; but beyond this, he lacked the ability to bring the story to imaginite life.As a writer he is surely almost as far below the rank of Rex Stout as as Rex Stout is below that of James Cain. The Maltese Falcon today seems not much above those newspaper picture-strips in which you follow from day to day the ups and downs of a stron-jaed hero(Dick Tracy?) and a hard boiled adventuress.

  Of course he was not a fan of the detective story as the title of another of his essays,' Who care who killed Roger Ackroyd?', would suggest. As Mark suggests a book or piece of art may be ignored or attacked when it is first released, but be looked on as a classic thirty years later. Similarly many books that are extensively praised when new may be later forgotten. Mark .

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