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Faulkner and Print Culture$
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Jay Watson, Jaime Harker, and James G. Jr. Thomas

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781496812308

Published to University Press of Mississippi: May 2019

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781496812308.001.0001

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Hard-Boiled Faulkner? Gender, Art, and Commerce in William Faulkner’s Knight’s Gambit

Hard-Boiled Faulkner? Gender, Art, and Commerce in William Faulkner’s Knight’s Gambit

Chapter:
(p.137) Hard-Boiled Faulkner? Gender, Art, and Commerce in William Faulkner’s Knight’s Gambit
Source:
Faulkner and Print Culture
Author(s):

Erin A. Smith

Publisher:
University Press of Mississippi
DOI:10.14325/mississippi/9781496812308.003.0010

This essay analyzes William Faulkner’s 1949 collection of detective stories, Knight’s Gambit, as a dialogue with Raymond Chandler over gender, art, and commerce in mystery fiction. Faulkner wrote the first draft of the title story before going to work adapting Chandler’s The Big Sleep into a screenplay, and he expanded and revised it afterwards. Chandler’s self-serving 1944 historiography of the detective story, “The Simple Art of Murder,” privileged masculine, American, proletarian stories that appeared in pulp magazines over the English-country-house variety that made their mark in feminine, consumerist, slick-paper magazines. Although Faulkner repeats Chandler’s mapping of the literary field into masculine, serious art and feminine, silly mass culture in “Knight’s Gambit,” he ultimately deconstructs that binary, suggesting that all fiction (commercial or literary) is intimately enmeshed—for better and for worse—with the consumer marketplace. 

Keywords:   Knight’s Gambit, detective stories, magazines, Raymond Chandler, gender

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