Criticism: Women And Hard-Boiled Fiction - Essay

Robert Sandels (essay date fall 1989)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Sandels, Robert. “It Was a Man's World.” Armchair Detective 22, no. 4 (fall 1989): 388-96.

[In the following essay, Sandels explores the characterization of Sara Paretsky's V. I. Warshawski in several of her novels, noting that, despite Warshawski's feminist tendencies, she has much in common with her male counterparts.]

Contemporary writers such as Sara Paretsky, Sue Grafton, and Marcia Muller are only a few of the growing number of female authors who have developed female private eye characters in recent years. Lady detectives are, of course, nothing new. Nor is the feminism implicit in their choice of profession new. What is new, of course, is the...

(The entire section is 3558 words.)

Timothy Shuker-Haines and Martha M. Umphrey (essay date 1998)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Shuker-Haines, Timothy and Martha M. Umphrey. “Gender (De)Mystified: Resistance and Recuperation in Hard-Boiled Female Detective Fiction.” In The Detective in American Fiction, Film, and Television, edited by Jerome H. Delamater and Ruth Prigozy, pp. 71-82. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1998.

[In the following essay, Shuker-Haines and Umphrey explore the respective characterizations of Sara Paretsky's V. I. Warshawski and Sue Grafton's Kinsey Millhone, drawing some conclusions about the general attributes of feminist hard-boiled fiction.]

What should we make of the recent emergence of the female hard-boiled detective? In a literary-historical sense she is...

(The entire section is 5542 words.)

Priscilla L. Walton and Manina Jones (essay date 1999)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Walton, Priscilla L. and Manina Jones. “Does She or Doesn't She?: The Problematics of Feminist Detection.” In Detective Agency: Women Rewriting the Hard-Boiled Tradition, pp. 86-117. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999.

[In the following essay, Walton and Jones discuss some ways in which various hard-boiled detective novels written by women, and featuring a female detective, transform the hard-boiled genre by questioning elements of the tradition.]

If feminism is now an uncomfortable part of the thriller's cultural repertoire, it is one which necessarily calls the achievements of Hammett and Chandler into question. Down these...

(The entire section is 11180 words.)

Priscilla L. Walton and Manina Jones (essay date 1999)

(Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Walton, Priscilla L. and Manina Jones. “The Text as Evidence: Linguistic Subversions.” In Detective Agency: Women Rewriting the Hard-Boiled Tradition, pp. 118-48. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999.

[In the following excerpt, Walton and Jones focus on the use of language in hard-boiled fiction written by women, pointing out that these female authors both appropriate and transform the tough language of the traditional detective.]

“If it's that delicate,” I said, “maybe you need a lady detective.”

“Goodness, I didn't know there were any.” Pause. “But I don't...

(The entire section is 11345 words.)