RE: RARA-AVIS: Re: "Watching the Detectives" on Chandler/Marlowe

Date: 21 Jul 2000

Mario Taboada wrote:
<<It's hard to determine whether Hemingway influenced Hammett first or viceversa. They came of literary age around the same time....>>

Exactly. Hemingway's style was certainly set by the time he published the full-length version of IN OUR TIME in 1925, which is a couple of years before Hammett's $106,000 BLOOD MONEY appeared. Hemingway's first (and best) novel THE SUN ALSO RISES appeared in 1926, three years before the DAIN CURSE and RED HARVEST. I recently read some of Hemingway's journalism for the KANSAS CITY STAR (written in 1917, when he was still a teenager) and some rudiments of hard-boiled style and subject matter appear there. So I think it's safe to say that Hammett had no influence on Hemingway's first published works and no influence on his much-ballyhooed style. It is possible Hammett was reading Hemingway when Hammett was working on his first published works, but I think that Hammett most likely reached his style independently. I think it IS interesting that they both hit upon a similar approach to narrative and dialogue at about the same time. I suspect they were responding to the same influences: the advent of a tight, standardized newspaper style; the "cablese" of foreign dispatches; the "style" used in telegrams; the clipped language of print advertisements of the day; and so on. There were plenty of examples at the time for them to draw from to reach that kind of "less is more" approach.


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