Hoffmann suggests that Hammett's Marxism may have more to do with alcoholism, Hollywood and Hellman, and concludes that Marxist philosophy stifled Hammett as a writer, but that his work and influence resulted from the philosophy of Pragmatism that dominated the earlier, productive period of Hammett's life.
Interestingly, in this essay I could find only one use of the term "noir" and that is connected to the philosophical underpinnings of Hammett's work. Toward the end of the essay Hoffmann says that Hammett chose the genre of crime fiction, with its tropes, conventions and atmospherics, as the best way to engage readers.
At least that's how I understood it, but then I'm no brighter than you are, Jack. Thanks for bringing this to my attention. It has helped to clarify my own thoughts about Hammett and noir.
Thanking Kevin for republishing the essay,
----- Original Message -----
From: Jack Bludis
Sent: Thursday, June 04, 2009 12:01 PM
Subject: RARA-AVIS: An Ineteresting take on Hammett
I just took the time to read, "A Man Must Do What He Must:
Hammett's Pragmatism," by Josef Hoffmann.
The piece is in ThrillingDetective.com and I suppose it is fair to note that the translation is by by Johanna da Rocha Abreu, a woman I have never met.
The piece covers Hammett's thought processes as well as those of his characters the Continental Op, Ned Beaumont, Sam Spade, and the process of the deductive reasoning that brings Hammett and his characters to conclusions.
The article is translated from the German so it has an intricacy of style that we, or at least I, don't see much in what I read. (But, of course, if it's too intricate I can't grasp it even if it's fiction, like some of Henry James, but I am confessing to my own limitations.)
The article begins by discussing Hammett's Marxism and calls attention to Hammett's pragmatism. I expected an explanation of Hammett's Marxism based on his logic, but I didn't see where that was explained.
It is an interesting piece I thought.
The whole thing is at:
Read, read, read. Write, write, write.
If you're not a writer: read, read, read, and read some more.
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