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The Maltese Falcon ()


Modern Library Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century (56)

In a typical half-way step, the critics were honest enough to put it on the list, but probably hesitant to put a pulp fiction too high.  I believe it is very nearly perfect, and may well belong in the Top 10.

The Private Eye (like the Old West gunslinger before him) is a quintessential American hero.  A lone man, bound by an incorruptible personal code of morals, who gets drawn into tangled situations where only he can restore order.  As the archetypal P.I. novel then, The Maltese Falcon owns a special place in American Literature.

One interesting sidelight to the novel is to compare the final confrontation between Sam Spade & Brigid O'Shaughnessy to Hammett's own showdown with HUAC in the 1950's.  Spade refuses to "play the sap", why did Hammett decide to be a sap for the Communists and his despicable lover, Lillian Hellman?

(Reviewed:)

Grade: (A+)

  

Websites:

Dashiell Hammett Links:

    -ESSAY: Watching the Detective: The Falcon's cynical influence on a young reader (Peter Spiegelman, February 6, 2005, SF Gate)

Book-related and General Links:
    -Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961)  (kirjasto)
    -ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA : "dashiell hammett"
    -GRAVE : Samuel Dashiell Hammett, Sergeant, United States Army (Arlington Cemetery)
    -Dashiell Hammett (A Guide to Classic Mystery and Detection Home Page)
    -Authors and Creators : Dashiell Hammett Also wrote as Peter Collinson, Daghull Hammett, Samuel Dashiell, Mary Jane Hammett (1894-1961) (Thrilling Detective)
    -(Samuel) Dashiell Hammett (Rara-Avis)
    -Mystery Net : Mystery Greats : Dashiell Hammett
    -American Masters - Dashiell Hammett. Detective. Writer (PBS)
    -DASHIELL HAMMETT (Stop You're Killing Me)
    -Dashiell Hammett (Noir)
    -Dashiell Hammett :  A Pioneer of Noir
    -Dashiell Hammett (Spartacus)
    -Dashiell Hammett's San Francisco
    -The Continental Detective Agency :  Dashiell Hammett: biography, books and more...
    -Continental Op Page
    -The Maltese Falcon FAQ
    -Notes on Dashiell Hammett Fiction (Richard M Heli)
    -ARTWORK: Dashiell Hammett in the Dell 'map-backs'
    -LINKS : The Hammett-List WWW Page
    -READING GROUP GUIDE : The Maltese Falcon  by Dashiell Hammett (Random House)
    -ESSAY : Literary leftovers : Does even the most devoted fan really want to scrape the bottom of Dashiell Hammett's desk drawer? (David Bowman, Salon)
    -ESSAY : Genesis: Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon  Chapter Two of Feminine Transgression and the Hypermasculine Response in the American Hard-Boiled Novel (Don Haynes)
    -ESSAY : Hammett Dash  A walking 'Jeopardy' question conducts his essential literary walking tour (Dara Colwell, Metro Active Books)
    -ESSAY : Before "The Thin Man" : However legendary their romance, Dashiell Hammett did his best work before he met Lillian Hellman (Dick Lochte, salon)
    -ESSAY: CRIME IN EVERY HAMLET (Marilyn Stasio, NY Times Book Review)
    -ARCHIVES : "dashiell hammett (NY Review of Books)
    -REVIEW: of Woman in the Dark A Novel of Dangerous Romance By Dashiell Hammett  (NEWGATE CALLENDAR, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of DASHIELL HAMMETT A Life. By Diane Johnson (George Stade, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of DASHIELL HAMMETT. A Life. By Diane Johnson (Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of HAMMETT, A Life at the Edge. By William F. Nolan (Julian Symon, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of HELLMAN AND HAMMETT The Legendary Passion of Lillian Hellman and Dashiell Hammett. By Joan Mellen (Terry Teachout, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of  SHADOW MAN. The Life of Dashiell Hammett. By Richard Laman (John Leonard, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of Double Lives Spies and Writers in the Secret Soviet War of Ideas Against the West By Stephen Koch (Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, NY Times)
 

LILLIAN HELLMAN:
    -OBIT: LILLIAN HELLMAN, PLAYWRIGHT, AUTHOR AND REBEL, DIES AT 79  (NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of LILLIAN HELLMAN The Image, the Woman. By William Wright (Frank Rich, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of LILLIAN HELLMAN Her Legend and Her Legacy. By Carl Rollyson (Helen Dudar, NY Times Book Review)

FILM:
    -INFO : Dashiell Hammett (imdb)
 

GENERAL:
    -Hard Boiled Noir Webring
    -Film Noir & Pulp Fiction
    -Twists, Slugs and Roscoes: A Glossary of Hardboiled Slang
    -Hard Boiled Writing from a Private Eye (A Conversation with Steven Marcus)
 

If you liked The Maltese Falcon, try:

MacDonald, Ross
(Lew Archer Mysteries)
    -Black Money
    -The Chill
    -The Drowning Pool
    -The Far Side of the Dollar
    -The Galton Case        (Read Orrin's review)
    -The Moving Target
    -The Underground Man
    -The Wycherly Woman
    -The Zebra-Striped Hearse
    -Sleeping Beauty

Comments:

You're right on the mark here! The Maltese Falcon is a classic. One of the finest ever written.

- K.A.

- Feb-13-2004, 07:11

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