New PDF release: Hard-boiled: working-class readers and pulp magazines


By Erin A. Smith

ISBN-10: 1566397693

ISBN-13: 9781566397698

Within the Twenties a distinctively American detective fiction emerged from the pages of pulp magazines. The hard-boiled tales released in Black masks, Dime Detective, Detective Fiction Weekly and Clues featured a brand new type of hero and shortly challenged the recognition of the British mysteries that held readers in thrall on each side of the Atlantic. In Hard-Boiled, Erin A. Smith examines the tradition that produced and supported this way of detective tale in the course of the Forties.

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Extra resources for Hard-boiled: working-class readers and pulp magazines

Example text

8 Such exclusive focus on the form of detective fiction has a number of troubling consequences. First, the emphasis on structural continuity overlooks differences in subgenre, setting, and protagonist that are of great importance to fans. 9 Third, formalist scholarship ignores differences in the conditions of production and primary readership over time and in different media. For example, the 1920s and '30s readers of Dashiell Hammett in the cheap pulp magazine Black Mask are not the same readers, demographically, who buy his novels in expensive Vintage Crime Classics paperbacks today.

Once inside a hard-boiled text, my senses are filled with what Raymond Chandler called ''the smell of a world where men live," 3 a world I do not know at all well. 4 What are communities of men like? How do they function? What are their codes of conduct? What do they talk about, and what kinds of rhetoric do they use? Reading this fiction has offered me the opportunity to eavesdrop on how one group of mostly white, mostly working-class men made sense of the world through the pulp fiction that circulated widely in their communities between the wars.

The pulp-magazine business boomed between the wars, driven by falling costs and rising literacy levels. 5 The magazines that our first-time Black Mask reader preferredthose printed on white or "good" paperwere "respectable" magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post, Ladies Home Journal, and Cosmopolitan. These mass-market magazines, printed on the "slick" paper necessary for high-quality reproduction of images, featured short fiction, articles on a variety of general-interest topics, handsome illustrations, and glossy ads for consumer products.

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Hard-boiled: working-class readers and pulp magazines by Erin A. Smith

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