Re: RARA-AVIS: Chandler, Hammett & bravery

From: Kerry Schooley (
Date: 11 Dec 2003

At 09:08 PM 10/12/2003 -0500, you wrote:

>So let's appreciate them for what they are and not burden them with more
>attitudes than they had in real life--and they had more than a
>sufficiency. Let's
>judge them by what is on the page and not what was in their background that
>may or may not have any significance.

How about I judge them for what's on the page and sift through their backgrounds to try to understand influences on what got put on the page?

Chandler's brief brush with Canada happened at a time and place that is significant in this country's nation-building mythology. Canadian troops first fought under British command, whose upper-class officers used their own lower-class and Commonwealth troops mostly as cannon fodder, feeding them into killing fields for little gain, inspired by notions of chivalry that should have been buried after the example of the US Civil War. Canadians later won significant victories fighting under their own commanders. So I am curious about Chandler's fit into these events, and how they might have influenced his romantic vision of the lone detective as knight. Details Kevin or others may have about that are welcome.

As for Hammett, I too thought his time as a Pink was generally thought to have influenced his work more than his war experiences. And that it was their activities as strike-breakers and servants of capital, not their crime-fighting, that influenced his outlook. Doesn't Hammett tend to deal with class issues, mostly relations between the lower and middle classes? I thought The Thin Man was an Americanization of the British cosy, treating matters of crime among the rich with superficial wit and whimsey. Maybe I'm thinking more of the subsequent movies.

Or maybe I've got it all wrong, but given that both Hammett and Chandler's works were part of a popularization of literature and reading, dealing more with the people on the streets than those in the parlours of privilege, I'm happy to be corrected. So by all means, more background please.

Best Kerry

------------------------------------------------------ Literary events Calendar (South Ont.) The evil men do lives after them

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