Born in Maryland, Dashiell Hammett revolutionized American literature even though his output was relatively scant – five major published novels and a handful of short fiction plus film-related writing. Often called the father of hardboiled fiction, Hammett also pioneered the art form we now call noir, especially in the three great novels that are the focus of this class: The Maltese Falcon, Hammett’s most famous work that was almost line for line and shot for shot adapted into the Humphrey Bogart movie, Hammett’s first novel Red Harvest that Time Magazine listed as one of the 100 best English language novels published between 1923 and 2005, and The Glass Key, sometimes cited as Hammett’s favorite of his novels, also adapted as an Alan Ladd movie and a major influence on today’s filmmaking Coen brothers. Each of these novels reflects a political vision – though not the politics of the Sunday TV talk shows – and Hammett was a political player in everything from the glories of the Corcoran Museum of Art to the goriest days of McCarthyism that sent “Dash” to prison and the blacklist before as veteran of both World Wars, he earned his gravestone in Arlington Cemetery. Through discussion and lecture, this class will explore those three great noir novels, along with the politics, American culture, and personal choices they reveal.
ABOUT THE INSTRUCTOR
James Grady’s first novel, published when he was 24, became the Robert Redford movie Three Days Of The Condor in 1975. Since then, Grady has worked as a U.S. Senate aide, an investigative reporter for syndicated columnist Jack Anderson, and a cultural columnist for AOL’s PoliticsDaily.com. He has also freelanced for The New Republic, The Washington Post and Washingtonian Magazine, written for film icons like John Woo and Stephen Cannell, and published more than a dozen other novels and as many short stories, including appearances in D.C. Noir and D.C. Noir 2 – The Classics. France awarded Grady its Grand Prix du Roman Noir, Italy gave him its Raymond Chandler medal, and Japan gave Grady’s last novel, Mad Dogs, its Baku Misu award for literature.