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“I Can Feel Her”

The White Male as Hysteric in James M. Cain and Raymond Chandler
  • Megan E. Abott
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Abstract

In April 1932, Democratic presidential nominee Franklin Delano Roosevelt gave a ten-minute radio address foregrounding a figure he called the “Forgotten Man.” The term was borrowed from an 1883 speech by free-market social scientist William Graham Sumner, but, in the hands of Raymond Moley, a key member of FDR’s brain trust and the speech’s primary architect, the term’s meaning underwent significant revision.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    William Graham Sumner, “The Forgotten Man (1883)” in The Forgotten Man and Other Essays, ed. Albert Galloway Keller (Freeport, New York: Books for Libraries Press, 1919, 1969), 491. Hereafter, this work is cited parenthetically in the text.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Franklin Delano Roosevelt, “The ‘Forgotten Man’ Radio Speech,” in The Roosevelt Reader: Selected Speeches, Messages, Press Conferences, and Letters of Franklin D. Roosevelt, ed. Basil Rauch (New York: Rinehart, 1957), 66. Hereafter, this work is cited parenthetically in the text.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Robert S. McElvaine, The Great Depression: America, 1929–1941 (New York: Times Books, 1984, 1993), 340. Hereafter, this work is cited parenthetically in the text.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    As McElvaine, Abbott, and other scholars, such as Warren Susman and David Kennedy, document, much anecdotal evidence—letters written to both Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, Studs Terkel’s Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression (New York: New Press, 1970, 1986),Google Scholar
  5. Mirra Kamarovosky’s 1940 study, The Unemployed Man and His Family: The Effect of Unemployment Upon the Status of the Man in Fifty-Nine Families (New York: Dryden, 1940), and the accounts of Roosevelt Administration figures such as Harry Hopkins and Lorena Hickok—suggests feelings of impotence and a loss of authority on the part of men on relief.Google Scholar
  6. 7.
    Susan Faludi, Stiffed: The Betrayal of the American Man (New York: Perennial, 1999), 21.Google Scholar
  7. 12.
    Kaja Silverman, Male Subjectivity at the Margins (New York: Routledge, 1992), 2. Hereafter, this work is cited parenthetically in the text.Google Scholar
  8. 15.
    James M. Cain, Double Indemnity (New York: Vintage, 1992), 32. Hereafter, this work is cited parenthetically in the text.Google Scholar
  9. 16.
    Frank Krutnik, In a Lonely Street Film Noir, Genre, Masculinity (London: Routledge, 1991), 138. Hereafter, this work is cited parenthetically in theGoogle Scholar
  10. 19.
    Hélène Cixous and Catherine Clément, “The Untenable” in In Dora’s Case: Freucl—Hysteria—Feminism, eds. Charles Bernheimer and Claire Kahane (New York: Columbia University Press, 1995), 286.Google Scholar
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    Peter Brooks, Body Work: Objects of Desire in Modern Narrative (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993), 244.Google Scholar
  12. Likewise, as Claire Kahane notes in her reading of Freud’s Dora, “What Dora revealed was that sexual difference was a psychological problematic rather than a natural fact, that it existed within the individual psyche as well as between men and women in culture” (“Introduction: Part Two” in In Dora’s Case: Freud—Hysteria—Feminism, eds. Charles Bernheimer and Claire Kahane [New York: Columbia University Press, 1995], 22).Google Scholar
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    Elaine Showalter, “Hysteria, Feminism, and Gender,” in Hysteria Beyond Freud, eds. Sander L. Gilman, Helen King, Roy Porter, G. S. Rousseau, and Elaine Showalter (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), 258. Showalter notes that the fact that we need to specify “male hysterics” demon-strates the extent to which, despite the number of male “cases,” hysteria is still considered a female malady.Google Scholar
  14. 23.
    Paul Smith, “Action Movie Hysteria, or Eastwood Bound,” Differences 1.3 (1989): 92.Google Scholar
  15. 26.
    See David Madden, ed., Tough Guy Writers of the Thirties (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1968);Google Scholar
  16. Joyce Carol Oates, “Man Under Sentence of Death: The Novels of James M. Cain,” in Tough Guy Writers of the Thirties, ed. David Madden (Southern Illinois University Press: Carbondale, 1968), 110–128;Google Scholar
  17. Paul Skenazy, James M. Cain (New York: Continuum, 1989); Hilfer (1990); Marling (1995).Google Scholar
  18. 27.
    Mary Ann Doane, Femmes Fatales: Feminism, Film Theory, Psychoanalysis (New York: Routledge, 1991), 2. Hereafter, this work is cited parenthetically in the text.Google Scholar
  19. 33.
    Slavoj Žižek, Looking Awry: An Introduction to Jacques Lacan through Popular Culture (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1991).Google Scholar
  20. 35.
    Sigmund Freud, “The Uncanny” in The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works, trans. James Strachey, vol. 17 (London: Hogarth Press, 1953), rpf.Google Scholar
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    Jacques Lacan, “The Split Between the Eye and the Gaze,” in The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-Analysis (New York: W.W. Norton, 1981), 72–73.Google Scholar
  22. 39.
    William Luhr, Raymond Chandler and Film (Tallahassee: Florida State University Press, 1991), 27. The film changes most character names: Walter Huff becomes Walter Neff, Nino Sachetti becomes Zachette (thereby losing the intriguing Sacco/Vanzetti connotation—a connotation Marling asserts is “compensatory retelling of their plight” [179–80]), and the Nirdlingers become the Dietrichsons.Google Scholar
  23. 41.
    Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume I: An Introduction, trans. Robert Hurley (New York: Vintage, 1990), 61–62.Google Scholar
  24. 42.
    Fred Pfeil, White Guys: Studies in Postmodern Domination and Difference (London: Verso, 1995), 110. Hereafter, this work is cited parenthetically in the text.Google Scholar
  25. 45.
    Raymond Chandler, Farewell, My Lovely (New York: Vintage, 1992), 34.Google Scholar
  26. 52.
    Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep (New York: Vintage, 1992), 159. Here-after, this work is cited parenthetically in the text.Google Scholar
  27. 53.
    Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye (New York: Vintage, 1992), 722. Hereafter, this work is cited parenthetically in the text.Google Scholar
  28. 54.
    Raymond Chandler, The High Window, rpt. in Stories & Early Novels (New York: Library of America, 1995), 1135. Hereafter, this work is cited parenthetically in the text.Google Scholar
  29. 55.
    Quoted in Jerry Speir, Raymond Chandler (New York: Frederick Unger, 1981), 1.Google Scholar
  30. 57.
    Raymond Chandler, The Little Sister, rpt. in Later Novels and Other Writings (New York: Library of America, 1995), 328. Hereafter, this work is cited parenthetically in the text.Google Scholar
  31. 58.
    Raymond Chandler, The Lady in the Lake (New York: Vintage, 1992), 108. Hereafter, this work is cited parenthetically in the text.Google Scholar
  32. 59.
    Tania Modleski, The Women Who Knew Too Much: Hitchcock and Feminist Film Theory (New York: Methuen, 1988), 34.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Megan E. Abott 2002

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  • Megan E. Abott

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