Re: RARA-AVIS: Reading The Maltese Falcon

From: Marc Seals (
Date: 08 Sep 2004

Other than THE BIG SLEEP, I (like Bill) probably do not know any other novel as well as THE MALTESE FALCON.

When I have students read the novel, they are always bewildered by the descriptions of cigarette rolling. Some students have noted that Chandler does the same thing with Marlowe's coffee making.... I actually get to teach these novels, introducing them to a new generation of readers. Do I have the coolest job in the world or what? By and large, students love the novel.

I think that there are some pretty significant differences between the novel and the 1941 film, presumably largely caused by adherence to the Hays Code. I am most disturbed by Spade's strip-search of Brigid O'Shaunessy.

I served as a consultant for a recent stage adaptation of the novel (at a community theatre in Monticello, Florida). I fought like mad to get the person adapting the novel to leave in the Flitcraft parable, but to no avail. The play was running long as it was, and there was just no way. Sigh. He also modeled the ending after the film, but only after trying the novel's ending on a few friends and finding that they prefered the film.

By the way, Bill correctly observes that this is not the FIRST hard-boiled novel.... What novels would you all put forth as the first?


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