Hard-Boiled Fiction Criticism: Overviews And General Studies - Essay

John G. Cawelti (essay date fall 1975)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Cawelti, John G. “The Gunfighter and the Hard-Boiled Dick.” American Studies 16, no. 2 (fall 1975): 49-64.

[In the following essay, Cawelti compares the image of the hero inherent in hard-boiled detective fiction with that found in Western fiction and films. He notes that the hard-boiled hero embodies a darker, more violent, and more anarchic view of the world than his Western counterpart.]

The thriving little frontier settlement is suddenly beset with outlaws. Coming out of nowhere they viciously attack, beating the citizens and killing the old sheriff. Desperately the citizens gather in the church. After prayer for divine guidance, a debate breaks out...

(The entire section is 8560 words.)

Larry E. Grimes (essay date autumn 1983)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Grimes, Larry E. “Stepsons of Sam: Re-Visions of the Hard-Boiled Detective Formula in Recent American Fiction.” MFS: Modern Fiction Studies 29, no. 3 (autumn 1983): 535-44.

[In the following essay, Grimes explores three modern novels as “revisions” of Raymond Chandler's hard-boiled detective formula that increasingly focus on the role of the imagination in detection.]

During the past decade, a small industry has developed, using American hard-boiled detective stories as its primary raw material. Both films and fiction have been made from this well-established formula. A partial list includes such successful films as Chinatown, The Late...

(The entire section is 4763 words.)

Frederick Isaac (essay date 1987)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Isaac, Frederick. “Laughing with the Corpses: Hard-Boiled Humor.” In Comic Crime, edited by Earl F. Bargainnier, pp. 23-43. Bowling Green: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1987.

[In the following essay, Isaac presents an overview of the various forms of humor to be found in hard-boiled detective fiction, emphasizing humor in description, characterization, action, and relationships.]

I first heard Personville called Poisonville by a red-haired mucker named Hickey Dewey in the Big Ship in Butte. He also called his shirt a shoit. I didn't think anything of what he had done to the city's name. Later I heard men who could manage...

(The entire section is 9789 words.)

Scott R. Christianson (essay date 1990)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Christianson, Scott R. “A Heap of Broken Images: Hardboiled Detective Fiction and the Discourse(s) of Modernity.” In The Cunning Craft: Original Essays on Detective Fiction and Contemporary Literary Theory, edited by Ronald G. Walker and June M. Frazer, pp. 135-48. Macomb, IL: Western Illinois University, 1990.

[In the following essay, Christianson examines hard-boiled fiction in the context of modern literature. He argues that, like, for example, T. S. Eliot's The Wasteland, hard-boiled fiction presents an “oppositional” stance toward the world, while at the same time upholding many of its values.]

First of all, this paper will attempt to...

(The entire section is 7084 words.)

Michael Pettengell (essay date spring 1991)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Pettengell, Michael. “The Expanding Darkness: Naturalistic Motifs in Hard-Boiled Detective Fiction and the Film Noir.” Clues 12, no. 1 (spring 1991): 43-55.

[In the following essay, Pettengell contends that hard-boiled detective fiction is part of the Naturalistic literary movement in American literature because it emphasizes common experiences and everyday life.]

Although Naturalism as a literary type of American fiction is defined by the work of a relatively small group of writers spanning a short period of time; the influences and implications of the movement branched out (much like Norris' “Octopus”) into almost every artistic endeavor of the...

(The entire section is 4233 words.)