Re: RARA-AVIS: wet feet...

From: Mark Sullivan (
Date: 27 Apr 2001

Doug wrote:

"At his best -- RED HARVEST, say, or my favorite novel of his, THE GLASS KEY -- it's almost as if Hammett is telling a modern myth. The story seems to give off those kind of resonances. Consider how many times RED HARVEST has been retold, for instance."

That's a pretty good way of describing Hammett's appeal, modern myth.

Red Harvest definitely has the feel of myth. We've talked a fair amount about how it has been retold and argued about whether or not there is conclusive evidence that Yojimbo (and its heirs Fistfull of Dollars and Last Man Standing) was directly based on Red Harvest. However, I've got to wonder how original the loner playing two gangs against each other plot (also at the root of Glass Key, my favorite of his, also) was when Hammett told it. I can't think of any direct antecedents, but my knowledge of pre-20th century literature is patchy at best. Does it show up in older literature?


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