A Dashiell Hammett Companion

A Dashiell Hammett Companion

A Dashiell Hammett Companion

A Dashiell Hammett Companion

Synopsis

Dashiell Hammett's writing career began with the publication of "The Parthian Shot," a tiny short story in The Smart Set in 1922, and virtually ended when he published 3 outstanding stories in Collier's in 1934. During this brief period, he published 60 short stories, 5 novels--including The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man--a few poems, some nonfiction, and several book reviews. Though he published little from 1934 until his death in 1961, his influence continues to this day. This book presents alphabetically arranged entries for Hammett's works, characters, family members, and acquaintances, along with a chronology, a brief general bibliography, and end-of-entry bibliographies for especially detailed entries.

Excerpt

The story of Dashiell Hammett is one of the most curious in the annals of American literary history. The short span of his active writing career began with the publication of “The Parthian Shot,” a tiny short story in The Smart Set in 1922, and virtually ended when he published three excellent stories—“Two Sharp Knives,” “His Brother’s Keeper,” and especially “This Little Pig”—in Collier’s in 1934. During this period, Hammett published sixty short stories, five novels—including The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man—a few poems of no importance, some nonfictional prose pieces interesting for their autobiographical touches, and a quick spate of astute book reviews. His first novel, Red Harvest, depicts American corruption in a sharp focus he never essentially altered. The cleverness of such late short stories as “Albert Pastor at Home” and “Night Shade” indicates that he suffered no diminution of talent although he was about to turn inactive.

After 1934, Hammett survived for another quarter of a century; however, he wrote little, outlived his talent, and suffered from alcoholism, tuberculosis, and the sick effects of careless womanizing. He once criticized himself for “laziness, drunkenness, and illness.” His influence on other writers, however, and on writers for the movies and television, has survived to this day.

Above all others, including Raymond Chandler, “Ellery Queen,” and James M. Cain, Hammett towers as the artist primarily responsible for the fast-track development of the American hard-boiled detective novel and short story. Chandler wrote in The Simple Art of Murder that “Hammett gave murder back to the kind of people that commit it for reasons, not just to provide a corpse; and with the means at hand, not hand-wrought dueling pistols, curare, and tropical fish. He put these people down on paper as they were, and he made them talk and think in the

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