The Pleasure of the Text
[excerpt begins with the opening paragraph]
Sherlock Holmes, the omniscient upper class investigator, is a statue for the Classical Detective Fiction. An entirely contrasting figure would be that of the ‚dick‘ in the Hard Boiled Detective novel. This form emerged after WWII in response to the disbelief and dishonor of Europe and the power of Science. These novels are written by Americans for the hard working Americans, not the Oxfordian Aficionados of the past. The average American reader yearned for quick read,enjoyable, yet still thought provoking. Thus spawn the genre of the Hard Boiled Detective Novel with it’s pleasure of the text. Pleasure of the text is attained when the language and writing style are at a comfortable level thatis pleasurable and easy to follow. It grants a simplistic euphoria without significantly breaking from the culture’s norm. The Classic detective fiction is written hypotactically, with subordination with in each sentence. The parataxical style of the Hard Boiled detective fiction embodies a short sentence structure with a fast paced plot. The detectives are ‚real‘ people, earning livings, they don’t have the glorying gleam that the Classical detective have shining on them and their infinite knowledge. Dashiell Hammet is a believer that high culture is useless, that is only something to hide behind. The embodiment of this ideal, alongside the clearly fetishistic characters is what make „The Maltese Falcon“ a precise example of a novel packed with a „pleasure of the text.“
The fascination with the Detective novel roots with our Scopophiliac desires. Hammet makes it easy to find that dark theater in which we make ourselves out to be the stars, the investigators. Sam Spade, the maniacal, cigarette-rolling dickserves as our primary association. Throughout the tale, Spade is kept in the dark and his association to the actual case is a little shady. This permeates into the reader’s undefined interpretations of the situation and the characters. The reader’s association with Spade is established in the opening scene, he is an average working man, innocent flirting secretary, waiting for the inevitable action to come into play. The case is brought in by the obligatory Femme Fatale, Miss Wonderley (who later identifies herself as Miss Bridid O’Shaughnessy). The sob story of the missing sister starts the whirlwind of manipulations this female will put on our buddy. The American readers are supposed enjoy watching women use their sexuality and power to manipulate the male detective, it falls into the Hard Boiled detective narration’s format of allegorizing women and minorities as dangerous. The immediate integration of money draws the reader closer to Spad reminding us that he is of the working class, he is a dick to earn a living, not to satisfy his intellectual obsession.
. . . Spade falls into an onslaught of tribulations which pull him further and further into the case rather than on the case.
. . . The story progresses and the clues unravel to the reader, as they unfold to our detective. The center of the action is left unexplained, but the reader falls into the characters fetish with this „Maltese Falcon“. The unclear relationship between the detective and the case becomes another mystery as we attempt to unravel the fascination with the black bird. The destablizing effect caused by Spade’s indeterminacy actually fuels the reader’s pleasure of the text by enabling us to work alongside the detective in establishing the case.
The Femme Fatale character in the Hard Boiled detective novel is usually portrayed as this almost mythical character devoid of real emotions, her purpose is to impose her sexuality onto the dick in the story in an effort to sidetrack and throw him off his methodical clue collecting. The enchanting Miss O’Shaunessy maintains this composure throughout the novel. . . .
Freud explains that Fetishism begins as soon as the baby is brought into the world. His theories are explained through a male baby of course since his interpretation of the female is that of an incomplete male, lacking the monumental phallus. . . . It is later during the narcissistic and Alloerotic stages that the boy begins to separate between the need for food and satisfaction. During the oral phase, the boy can begin to associate an object, idea, or person with the fulfillment of his hunger …The Average Joe persona of Sam Spade, and his hard headed set of personal moral codes is the key to capturing the average American reader. The reader begins the story at a state of confusion and ends at a similar state of not truly knowing exactly what happened, but the pleasure is still there.
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