Hardboiled Fiction

Hardboiled fiction is the literary genre that somewhat has the characteristics and plot of a crime fiction genre. It is formed with the influence from the romantic tradition which focuses on the emotions of unease, surprise, thrill, horror, and fear.  It is often defined as a tough, emotionless style of American crime writing that bring a unique touch of realism and naturalism to the genre of detective fictions.

Term Hardboiled

The term Hardboiled came from the process of hardening one’s egg, it is considered to be representing something tough. Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961) who was Pinkerton detective is created for inventing this genre. His first hardboiled work was “Fly Paper” which was published in Black Mask magazine in 1929. He mixed his own experiences with the realistic influence of the writers Ernest Hemingway and John Dos Passos, he was able to create a unique and other there type American detective fiction, which was different from the English mystery stories a genre that had been used by American writers for generations.

One of his first detective novels was Red Harvest which was published in 1929. His masterpiece is considered to be “The Maltese Falcon” released in 1930, which introduced his most famous sleuth, Sam Spade. His most popular story, “The Thin Man” (1934) was the last amazing novels he wrote. These noir stories can be seen as directly related to the socio-economic situation of that time. Raymond Chandler noted that the “smell of fear” created by the stories was the proof of their serious response to the modern condition: “Their characters lived in a world gone wrong, a world in which, long before the atom bomb, civilization has created the machinery for its own destruction and was learning to use it with all the moronic delight of a gangster trying out his first machine-gun. The law was something to be manipulated for profit and power. The streets were dark with something more than night.”

Hammett’s creativity was included in the hardboiled melodramas of James M. Cain (1892-1977), specifically in his first works such as “The Postman always rings twice” published in 1934 and “Double Indemnity” in 1936. Another writer named Raymond Chandler (1888-1959) who was also influenced by the work of Dashiell Hammett, wrote novels in which the plot revolved around corruption and racketeering in Southern California.

The hardboiled genre eventually transformed into the extreme sensationalism and undisguised sadism of what Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine defined as “guts-gore-and-gals-school”.

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