Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Chandler dissing Hammett?

From: Brian Thornton (
Date: 21 Jan 2006

Jim Doherty wrote:

> Miker,
> Re your comments below:

> I think you're mistaking Chandler's ambition to do
> BETTER than Hammett with disdain. He did lament that
> there were things "Hammett couldn't say or did not
> feel the need to say," and these "things" were what
> Chandler thought he could bring to the hard-boiled
> genre he'd grown to admire.

Great post, Jim. To tell the truth, when I first read the speculation that Chandler didn't like Hammett based on suposition that the writer who goes to pot in "The Long Goodbye" is some sort of Hammett strawman, I thought perhaps the poster (Miker? Can't recall which one it was) might be mistaking Chandler's well-documented antipathy for James M. Cain (although he wasn't above taking a lucrative contract to adapt Cain's "Strangers on a Train" for Alfred Hitchcock) for some sort of animus toward Hammett. All I've ever heard about Chandler's attitude towards Hammett were words of undisguised admiration.

> We all admire those who influence us, but we all have
> ambitions to do and be better than those who inspire
> us. Sinatra, for example, was a huge Bing Crosby fan,
> and his ambition (largely fulfilled) was to be bigger
> than Crosby. The Beatles were huge admirers of Elvis
> Presley, and sought to be bigger and better than the
> King. Their ambition did not diminish their admiration
> and respect for the accomplishments of their
> forebears, and neither, for all the arrogance he often
> displayed in his letters, did it for Chandler.

This is truly insightful and wonderfully put.

All the Best-

Brian Thornton

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