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ENGL 324 (22)

Crime Fiction 15

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English (Arts)
ENGL 324
Thomas Heise

Mar 1 - Mar 17, Chancellor Day Hall, rm 100 ~ 4:30 - Spillane and the FBI: satirized, describes the men of the FBI as corporate type people - they're indistinguishable from people in the street, emasculated, not individuals - the FBI has a file on Spillane - the FBI had lots of ties to the criminal element until they were cleaned up by Hoover, and then the organization became more professional, and less about physical ruling (more about the collection of sorting of information) - Al Capone is caught by the IRS for tax evasion, not by someone with a gun - this is making the private detective seem more and more antiquated - his job has been superseded in some ways by the scientific policing that was joked about by Dinah Brand in Red Harvest - he makes fun of the FBI and the congressional hearings that are going on to investigate the mafia syndicates - he references the hearings quite explicitly, and how ineffectual they are - data management, like working in corporate offices - Mike Hammer is clearly not interested in that - one of the jokes that the novel makes is that when Mike gets called in, they bring over this giant file on him, but then they ask him what he thinks (for all the insidious information that they collect, they still need someone like him out on the streets to do legwork and form opinions) - Hammer is entirely uninterested in the penal system, he wants to kill the mafia - he does this primarily through brute force. when he himself is emasculated and his gun is taken away, he is offered a gun, but he prefers to do it with his hands - he likes the physical manipulation of bodies - quite common of the detective novel (going to working class and ethnic neighborhoods of New York in order to make connections and learn about the mafia) - if he wants to learn about the parasite that is the Mafia, he goes to the bars, the working class, ethnic neighborhoods of new york... he, too, is mapping the city - 389, 392, 413, 418, 450 (places he goes) - a level of specificity in terms of the places that he goes: he's narrating a geography of criminality - he keeps going back to these bar areas and asking for information from them, and getting in to fights and the like - he brings a high level of violence in this place: it's not to say that there's no violence before now, but it's as if he fuels it (like red harvest) - Hammett = committed leftist; Spillane = not particularly political, kind of anti-politics - not morally ambiguous, but complex - the way in which Kiss Me, Deadly is really a demonstration of the anger towards the violation of the integrity of the individual by the Mafia - not only does the Mafia do it, so do the feds, the army, etc - if that's what burns Hammer, then that's the kind of anger that can be directed at multiple places - there are legal boundaries and legal barriers all across this text, and he lies his way through that - he doesn't have a client, like Marlowe and the OP - part of what he's doing is public and the other part is private (they've ruined his car, which pisses him off) - on one hand, he wants to be a motivator of justice and on the other he has a personal vendetta - he is both at once, though this may initially seem paradoxical - critical response has largly been condemnatory - too much sadism, violoence, brutality for its own sake - geography of power, of criminality that goes through all these places, also the posh apartments (they're also criminal spaces, just not for the lackeys) - connections between the lower and upper echelon through Hammer's map - he's thinking about all kinds of crimes and how they're tied in to the Mafia - (385) Pat and Mike going through mafia files: 20 pages of murder, theft, dope pushing and assorted felonies (they're all tied in to underworld criminality through the mafi
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