Author biography and literature criticism
Samuel Dashiell Hammett was born May 27, 1894 in Saint Mary's County, Maryland as the son to Richard Thomas Hammett and Anne Bond Dashiell. Through his life he was raised in Baltimore and Philadelphia. He never completed high school and left at the age of 13 and obtained several jobs over his adolescent life, consisting of freight clerk, railroad laborer, messenger boy, and stevedore. It wasn't until 1915 when he got the opportunity to work as a detective for the Pinkerton Agency, and took some time off later when World War I came around and he decided to serve. Hammett served as a sergeant in the Motor Ambulance Corp, but during that time he also contracted tuberculosis. He had to go to the hospital for treatment, where he met Josephine Dolan and later married her and had two daughters, Mary Jane and Josephine. He began writing when he came back from service realizing that he wasn't well fit for constant action and movement and quit the agency. The first time he wrote was under the pen name Peter Collinson for The Black Mask magazine. Hammett had used his prior experiences and former investigations as the basis for a lot of his stories, and created stories about men free of family ties, loners, who live by a rigid code of personal honor. The most Recognized work he has was The Glass Key and Red Harvest. His marriage fell apart yet he still supported his family and began a relationship with Lillian Hellman who was an actress, but they never married one another. During World War II, at the age of 48, Hammett enlisted as a private in the army. Three years later he was honorably discharged as a sergeant. Leaving the army, he began to teach writing in New York at a Marxist institute. As the president of New York Civil Rights Congress, Hammett had posted bail for a group of communists on trial for conspiracy. When they jumped bail, Hammett was jailed for refusing to give the names of the sources of the bail money. After serving six months in prison, he was let out, only to find that the IRS was charging him with one hundred thousand dollars in back taxes. Hammett spent the rest in Katonah, New York with a spiraling health and financial problems and died at the age of 66 of lung cancer on January 10, 1961. Hammett's writing was said to be the basis of many mystery novels and the "hard-boiled" genre's best representative.
John T. Irwin begins his critique on The Maltese Falcon with how the book is viewed as a dramatic masterpiece with a grand amount of of character interactions mainly centered towards Sam Spade and how those around im view him and how he is held within their perspective. The way those around him have mainly viewed him as a very corrupt, greedy, unemotional man with no real intention on helping those around him, yet he displays theat Detective Spade is the imbodyment of the devil and brings the Seven Deadly Sins and problems in his path. The critique is builds the story up in such a way that it is viewed as the basis to multiple detective novels, a very inspirational as the discovery and steps to solve a problem and then getting blind-sided by the unexpected. The way he profiles Sam Spade though differs, from my personal views as he is an anti-hero. The journey he puts himself on is that of a very deep and dark road with no showing of alterior motives except accomplishing the task at hand. The ending shows his true colors as he makes a difficult decision on how to handle the problem.
Irwin, John T. "Unless the Threat of Death Is behind Them: Hammett's The
Maltese Falcon." Literary Imagination 2.3 (Fall 2000): 341-374. Rpt.
in Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism. Ed. Thomas J. Schoenberg and
Lawrence J. Trudeau. Vol. 187. Detroit: Gale, 2007. Literature Resource
Center. Web. 4 Dec. 2012.