No Cover Image

Book chapter 385 views

“The Detective as Veteran: Recasting American Hard-Boiled Writing as a Literature of Traumatic War Experience”

Sarah Trott Orcid Logo

Men After War, Pages: 130 - 151

Swansea University Author: Sarah Trott Orcid Logo

Abstract

The effects of combat upon American hard-boiled fiction have not been seriously examined. Yet when examined in concert, the crime genre and ‘war’ genre are thematically and stylistically complementary; each wrestles with concepts of masculinity, disillusionment, and corruption. Within hard-boiled fi...

Full description

Published in: Men After War
Published: Routledge 2013
URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa16520
Tags: Add Tag
No Tags, Be the first to tag this record!
Abstract: The effects of combat upon American hard-boiled fiction have not been seriously examined. Yet when examined in concert, the crime genre and ‘war’ genre are thematically and stylistically complementary; each wrestles with concepts of masculinity, disillusionment, and corruption. Within hard-boiled fiction, American writers have attempted to expose a society ignorant of their characters’ traumas and focus their anger against a state that abandoned its soldiers upon their return from combat. Identifying with the embittered and similarly ‘lost’ generation of World War One, these writers incorporated a brutally explicit level of violence and seething underlying anger that marks a significant shift in the structure of American crime fiction. Their hard-boiled and war-traumatised protagonists, combined with their unforgiving social environments, produced a unique convergence of the war story and crime novel. Representing a distinctive form that can be dubbed a ‘war noir,’ writers in the twentieth century absorbed the anger, discontent, and brutality of both genres, which they used to attack an unsympathetic society and a corrupt state. In the process the hard-boiled style became a vehicle for communicating the disillusionment of authors, creating in the process a literature of traumatic war experience. The disillusionment and anguish stemming from war drove many to further the genre by highlighting the nation’s hypocrisy and the state’s corruption, resulting in a brutal but progressively realistic representation of the American social landscape.
College: College of Arts and Humanities
Start Page: 130
End Page: 151