RE: RARA-AVIS: Someone who doesn't like Pelecanos

Date: 06 Jul 2004


Re your comments below:

> Surely the relevance thing is essentially the old
> Hammett/Chandler divide.
> That's to say that Hammett's crimes occur in a
> political world in a context
> of organised corruption - and ultimately offer at
> least an implicit critique
> of American/western/capitalist society, while
> Chandler locates corruption
> in individuals and is much less interested in
> political context.

I think your premise is flawed.

I don't think Hammett is more politically oriented or more concerned with implicit criticism of the status quo than Chandler.

In fact, I think a lot of the political baggage that Hammett's work has been saddled withis retroactively imposed on the basis of the political stands he took later in life, after he'd given up writing fiction.

In fact, it could be argued that his growing political consciousness-raising was what led to his inability to write, since he began to see what he had written as irrelevant precisely BECAUSE there was no political component.

At the same time, Chandler comments, at least as much as Hammett, and often more overtly (though perhaps not as well, but that's in the eye of the beholder), one societal corruption in stories like "Spanish Blood" and "Finger Man" and novels like FAREWELL, MY LOVELY and THE HIGH WINDOW.

Ultimately, however, what they were both after was what you dismiss as nothing more than "the good story well told."


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