Re: RARA-AVIS: Critical Responses to Hammett

From: Chris Routledge (
Date: 23 Jan 2001

My review of this very useful book for Swets and Zeitlinger's _Annotated Bibliography for English Studies_ (available online for a fee at is below. It's rather tailored to the needs of the database, but I should add that if you want the key essays on Hammett over the last fifty years, this is your place to start. There's a similar volume on Raymond Chandler edited by JK Van Dover.

Cheers Chris

Mettress, Christopher The Critical Response to Dashiell Hammett Westport, CT: Greenwood Press 1994

This book is the first collection of critical writing dedicated to Dashiell Hammett. It contains critical essays and reviews covering sixty-five years of Hammett criticism, and is divided up into sections on the novels 'Red Harvest', 'The Dain Curse', 'The Maltese Falcon', 'The Glass Key', and 'The Thin Man', as well as a final section containing more general writing on Hammett and his work. It contains a chronology, and an extensive bibliography of additional reading.
        As a resource, the book will appeal to students of Hammett at all levels, but particularly to university students and beginning researchers. It contains reviews from newspaper sources contemporary with each novel, extracts from the key critical and biographical works on the writer, as well as some of the more theoretical academic articles on his work. The effect of the variety of material contained in the book is to reveal agreements and divergences between academic and newspaper critics, and so present a well-balanced overview of Hammett's changing critical fortunes and status.
        Several of the essays and extracts in the book are reviewed elsewhere in this database. They include 'Jameson, Genre and Gumshoes' by Jasmine Jong Hall, 'The Simple Art of Murder', by Raymond Chandler and 'Adventure, Mystery, and Romance', by John G. Cawelti. (chrout)

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