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Gangsters in Hats

Richard Mayne, 17 May 1984

Essays on Detective Fiction 
edited by Bernard Benstock.
Macmillan, 218 pp., £20, February 1984, 0 333 32195 2
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Dashiell Hammett: A Life at the Edge 
by William Nolan.
Arthur Barker, 276 pp., £9.95, September 1983, 0 213 16886 3
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The Life of Dashiell Hammett 
by Diane Johnson.
Chatto, 344 pp., £12.95, January 1984, 9780701127664
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Hellman in Hollywood 
by Bernard Dick.
Associated University Presses, 183 pp., £14.95, September 1983, 0 8386 3140 1
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... mean ceasing to discriminate between literature and yarns? Professor James Naremore, in Professor Bernard Benstock’s symposium, seems to imply that it does. Dashiell Hammett, he writes, ‘challenges the easy distinctions between popular and high art, and the critical language that normally sustains those distinctions’. Implicitly, perhaps he did ...

Flann O’Brien’s Lies

Colm Tóibín, 5 January 2012

... seem at times desperate, melancholy, unsatisfactory, incomplete, a piece of juvenilia. The critic Bernard Benstock, for one, feels that it displays ‘a serious lack of commitment in any direction’ on the author’s part and what he called, without it seems any irony, ‘an irony without a centre of gravity’. The story of At Swim-Two-Birds is ...

Gatsby of the Boulevards

Hermione Lee: Morton Fullerton, 8 March 2001

Mysteries of Paris: The Quest for Morton Fullerton 
by Marion Mainwaring.
New England, 327 pp., £23, March 2001, 1 58465 008 7
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... that has been done on Wharton since 1975, for instance by Cynthia Wolff, Eleanor Dwight and Shari Benstock (who is at pains in her book to correct some inaccuracies by Lewis) is barely mentioned, as if no one existed in this contest over Fullerton except Lewis and Mainwaring. It is as curious a story of slow-burning, obsessional scholarly revenge as ...

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