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Introduction

  • Megan E. Abott
Chapter
  • 162 Downloads

Abstract

In 1953, Senator Joseph McCarthy called Dashiell Hammett before a congressional subcommittee convened to investigate charges that so-called pro-communist books, including Hammett’s, had been found in the State Department’s overseas libraries. McCarthy asked Hammett,

[I]f you were spending, as we are, over a hundred million dollars a year on an information program allegedly for the purpose of fighting communism, and if you were in charge of that program to fight communism, would you purchase the works of some 75 communist authors and distribute their works throughout the world, placing our official stamp of approval upon these works?1

Hammett rather audaciously replied, “[I]f I were fighting communism, I don’t think I would do it by giving people any books at all.”2 Not long after his testimony, Hammett’s books were removed from State Department libraries (though only temporarily; Eisenhower would reinstate them). As Woody Haut suggests, Hammett, having already served a six-month prison term for refusing to answer questions about indicted communist leaders threatened with deportation, certainly realized that “books are, in themselves, investigations and, if one seeks mass distribution and a mass readership, one acknowledges the dominant cultural narrative or suffers the consequences.”3

Keywords

Story Paper Gender Politics Pocket Book Black Mask American Frontier 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    State Department Information Program, Proceedings of Permanent Subcommittee Investigation of the Senate Committee on Government Operations, March 1953, 88.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Woody Haut, Pulp Culture: Hardboiled Fiction and the Cold War (London: Serpent’s Tail, 1995), 3.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Compare, for instance, the fact that Mickey Spillane’s best-selling novels have sold over forty million copies (Larry Landrum, American Mystery and Detective Novels: A Reference Guide [Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1999], 14), while Nathanael West had the misfortune to hear from his publisher that his novel The Day of the Locust (1939) had sold only twenty-two copies over two weeks of its first month in bookstores (Otto Friedrich, City ofNets: A Portrait of Hollywood in the 1940s [New York: Harper & Row, 1986], 11).Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Liam Kennedy, “Black Noir: Race and Urban Space in Walter Mosley’s Detective Fiction,” in Criminal Proceedings: The Contemporary American Crime Novel, ed. Peter Messent (London: Pluto Press, 1997), 43.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    Judith Butler, Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex” (New York: Routledge, 1993), 171.Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    Judith Butler, Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (New York: Routledge, 1990), 25.Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    Eric Lott, Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), 18.Google Scholar
  8. 9.
    Geoffrey O’Brien, Hardboiled America: The Lurid Years of Paperbacks (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1981), 77.Google Scholar
  9. 10.
    See Kaja Silverman, Male Subjectivity at the Margins (New York: Routledge, 1992).Google Scholar
  10. 11.
    Robert Sklar, City Boys: Cagney, Bogart, Garfield (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1992), 9.Google Scholar
  11. 16.
    Jopi Nyman, Men Alone: Masculinity, Individualism and Hard-Boiled Fiction (Costerus New Series Ill. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1997), 3.Google Scholar
  12. 18.
    For example, Philip Durham, Down These Mean Streets a Man Must Go (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1963);Google Scholar
  13. Herbert Ruhm, “Raymond Chandler: From Bloomsbury to the Jungle—and Beyond,” ed. David Madden, Tough Guy Writers of the Thirties (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1968), 171–185;Google Scholar
  14. John G. Cawleti, Adventure, Mystery, and Romance (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1976);Google Scholar
  15. Ernest Fontana “Chivalry and Modernity in Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep,” Western American Literature 19.3 (1984): 179–86;Google Scholar
  16. William F. Nolan, The Black Mask Boys. New York: Morrow, 1985.Google Scholar
  17. 19.
    Ralph Willett, Hard-Boiled Detective Fiction, British Association for Arnerican Studies, Pamphlets in American Studies 23 (Halifax, England: Ryburn Book Productions, 1992), 8.Google Scholar
  18. 20.
    Mike Davis, City of Quartz: Excavating the Future in Los Angeles (New York: Random House, 1992), 37. Hereafter, this work is cited parenthetically in the text.Google Scholar
  19. 21.
    Liahna K. Babener, “Raymond Chandler’s City of Lies,” in Los Angeles in Fiction: A Collection of Original Essays, ed. David Fine (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1984), 110Google Scholar
  20. 23.
    David Fine, “Beginning in the Thirties: The Los Angeles Fiction of James M. Cain and Horace McCoy” in Los Angeles in Fiction: A Collection of Original Essays, ed. David Fine (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1984), 51.Google Scholar
  21. 26.
    Tony Hilfer, The Crime Novel: A Deviant Genre (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1990), 8.Google Scholar
  22. 27.
    See especially Durham (1963), Cawelti (1976), Stephen Knight, Form and Ideology in Crime Fiction (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1980),CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Dennis Porter, The Pursuit of Crime: Art and Ideology in Detective Fiction (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981), Hilfer (1990).Google Scholar
  24. 30.
    Robert Crooks, “From the Far Side of the Urban Frontier: The Detective Fiction of Chester Himes and Walter Mosley” in Raceing Representation: Voice, History and Sexuality, eds. Kostas Myrsiades and Linda Myrsiades (Lanham, MD: Rowan and Littlefield, 1998), 177. Hereafter, this work is cited parenthetically in the text.Google Scholar
  25. 31.
    Richard Slotkin, “The Hard-Boiled Detective Story: From the Open Range to the Mean Streets” in The Sleuth and the Scholar: Origins, Evolution, and Current Trends in Detective Fiction, eds. Barbara A. Rader and Howard G. Zettler (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1988), 97.Google Scholar
  26. 35.
    Manthia Diawara, “Noir By Noirs: Toward a New Realism in Black Cinema” in Shades of Noir, ed. Joan Copjec (London: Verso, 1993), 263. Hereafter, this work is cited parenthetically in the text.Google Scholar
  27. 37.
    Michael Denning, Mechanic Accents: Dime Novels and Working-Class Culture in America (London: Verso 1987), 10.Google Scholar

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© Megan E. Abott 2002

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  • Megan E. Abott

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