Chandler's Hardboiled England: World War II, Imperialism, and Transatlantic Exchange

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Norman, Will (2012)
  • Subject: PN0441

My aim in this article is to reorientate our sense of Chandler's hardboiled fiction by understanding the deep structures of affiliation and exchange between his belated, embattled Englishness and the changing status of the United States as it developed into a global superpower in the first half of the twentieth century. These structures played a determining role in shaping a generic form which is often misrecognized as a pure native species. While Chandler's reputation as a paradigmatic figure in hardboiled literary history tends to entail an evasion of his transatlantic dialectic, I wish to suggest how the ghosts of his English cultural adolescence around the turn of twentieth century continued to haunt him throughout his mature career. Melodrama, I will argue, was the means by which Chandler expressed his transatlantic hauntings and mourned the death of his English ideals.
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