Red Harvest Dashiell Hammett Analysis Essay

Red Harvest Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Related Titles on Red Harvest by Dashiell Hammett.

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Red Harvest presents a literary image of the United States as a violent, greedy, power-hungry society. The main villains are not the gangsters but wealthy influential people who use thugs to defend their often ill-gotten wealth and the power derived from it.

This lust for money and power is stronger than even family ties, as witnessed by the death of Donald Wilsson caused indirectly by his own father.

The question Hammett presents to the reader focuses on what, if anything, can be done to correct this situation; furthermore, Hammett writes about the consequences which face a man who has made it his task to steer clear both of pervasive corruption and of the attempts to fight against it.

The end of the novel indicates that any victory against the forces of materialism and greed will be short-lived, since the core of the corruption is not located in the...

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Dashiell Hammett, public domain photo

Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961)


A selective list of online literary criticism for American detective fiction author Dashiell Hammett, favoring signed articles by recognized scholars and articles published in peer-reviewed sources


introduction & biography

The Maltese Falcon. Selected for "The Big Read," Erika Koss, editor. Contents: Readers Guide contains Introduction, Historical Context, About the Author, Other Works/Adaptations, Discussion Questions, Bibliography; Teacher's Guide contains Schedule/Lesson Plans, Capstone Project Ideas, Essay Topics; and an audio radio program. National Endowment for the Arts.

Layman, Richard. "Hammett's Maltese Falcon, 75 Years Later." In an interview, Layman notes that John Huston's version is one of the few times when a great American novel became a great movie. National Public Radio, 3 April 2007.

Layman, Richard. Selected Letters of Dashiell Hammett, 1921-1960. Excerpt from Part One. Also, a review, in NYTimes, 5/6/01.

"Dashiell Hammett: Let's Talk About the Black Bird." A feature on Dashiell Hammett in January Magazine, includes comments from Richard Layman and many additional tributes.

Layman, Richard. "There's Only One Maltese Falcon."January Magazine.

Riley, James. 'As if there were anywhere to go': The Lack of Transcendence in the Noir Fiction of Dashiell Hammett and David Goodis.Crimeculture Autumn 2004.

"Dashiell Hammett." PBS American Masters.

Horsley, L. "Dashiell Hammett." A substantial introduction to Dashiell Hammett, from the Literary Encyclopedia 20 Oct. 2001 [subscription service].

2015: Major Dashiell Hammett collection bought by the University of South Carolina


literary criticism

Freedman, Carl and Christopher Kendrick. "Forms of Labor in Dashiell Hammett's Red Harvest."PMLA 106, 2 (March 1991) pp 209-21 [jstor].

Malmgren, Carl D. "The Crime of the Sign: Dashiell Hammett's Detective Fiction."Twentieth Century Literature Fall 1999 [jstor].

Marcus, Steven. "Hard-Boiled Writing from a Private Eye." An interview with Professor Steven Marcus, editor of a new Library of America edition of Hammett's novels and stories, who talks about Dashiell Hammett's development as a writer. Ideas 5 (1997).

Porter, Joseph C. "The End of the Trail: The American West of Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler."The Western Historical Quarterly 6 (1975) [jstor].

Shulman, Robert. "Dashiell Hammett's Social Vision."The Centennial Review 29, 4 (FALL 1985) pp 400-19 [jstor].

Walker, John. "City jungles and expressionist reifications from Brecht to Hammett [and Bertolt Brecht]."Twentieth Century Literature 44, 1 (Spring 1998) [jstor].

Whitley, John S. "Stirring Things Up: Dashiell Hammett's Continental Op."Journal of American Studies 14, 3 (Dec. 1980) pp 443-55 [jstor].


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