Re: RARA-AVIS: Marxism and Hardboiled?

From: Michael Robison (
Date: 04 Sep 2006

Brian Thornton wrote:

I think the only thing that separates Hammett's seminal work RED HARVEST from an overtly marxist work like Upton Sinclair's THE JUNGLE is that Hammett doesn't spend the last part of the book ranting about how international socialism is the only solution to the modern world's considerable socio-economic problems. In fact, he doesn't offer any solution at all to the problems raised by the ultimate laissez-faire situation that the Continental Op encounters in Poisonville. Even after the Op tames the town, the underlying problems that existed in the first place are still in place, and the little guy is still likely to take it on the chin.

************ Great thoughts. I agree with everything you say, noting that you never actually say that Red Harvest is Marxist. My hesitation to accept it as such is exactly for the reason you mention. Hammett never suggests a solution that approaches anything like Marxism. My feeling is that the book is too pessimistic to admit such a solution. The souls of Red Harvest have no place in the working man's paradise.


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