Cassuto offers an unconventional interpretation of American literature's most "masculine" genre, the American crime story, arguing that its origins can be traced, paradoxically, to nineteenth-century sentimental narratives which were almost always written by women. The crime story typically features a tough and laconic protagonist, usually a detective, navigating his way through an indifferent and corrupt world. Sentimental literature, by contrast, is based in the home and in religious faith, and emphasizes a strong moral code. Cassuto examines novels from the nineteenth century to the present, arguing that the hard-boiled tradition has in fact been in intimate dialogue with sentimentalism from the outset. He asserts that traces of sentimentality pervade the conventions of the detective novel, and he links the two seemingly disparate genres through their relationships to cultural trends and changes brought about by industrialization and urbanization. Hard-Boiled Sentimentality is an ambitious and wide-ranging book, with the potential to revise our understanding of not only the detective genre but also, more broadly, the afterlife of sentimentalism in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
- Publication Date:
- 21 / 11 / 2008