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Old 07-01-2011, 05:26 AM   #46
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It's been a while since I read the Maltese Falcon, but it's been one of my favorite books for a long time. I like the way the author leaves a lot unsaid, so you'll have to read between the lines. That explains the overt character descriptions - you need to have an explicit detailed picture of the character in your head in order to follow his/hers actions and motivations later, as they are sometimes barely hinted upon.

The Glass Key has a similar approach, but is even more detached.
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Old 07-18-2011, 01:26 AM   #47
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I forgot to mention this earlier.

Do you remember when the narrative abruptly stopped, and Spade told the story/parable about Flitcraft, the man who left his family in Tacoma and then started a new one in Spokane?

I didn't understand why Hammett included it when I read the book in 1972, and I still don't understand it in 2011. What did that story have to do with the plot or anything else?
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Old 07-18-2011, 05:52 PM   #48
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I forgot to mention this earlier.

Do you remember when the narrative abruptly stopped, and Spade told the story/parable about Flitcraft, the man who left his family in Tacoma and then started a new one in Spokane?

I didn't understand why Hammett included it when I read the book in 1972, and I still don't understand it in 2011. What did that story have to do with the plot or anything else?
I'm sure there must have been a point in his telling Bridget O'Shaughnessy that story, but I'll be danged if I can figure out what it was, except perhaps to pass the time.
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Old 07-19-2011, 07:21 PM   #49
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Tom, it comforts me that you don't get it either!
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Old 07-22-2011, 02:23 AM   #50
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Why Spade tells the story: he is actually contemplating to run with the girl and the treasure, but is trying to convince himself not to.
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Old 07-24-2011, 10:49 PM   #51
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Thanks Oldtribe. I'll plan to go back and reread that chapter with your suggestion in mind.
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Old 01-22-2012, 01:23 AM   #52
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For Christmas I received something I've wanted for years, but didn't know existed until just a few weeks before the big day - a collection of stories from Black Mask Magazine.

The Book is called The Black Lizard Big Book of Black Mask Stories.
http://www.amazon.com/Black-Lizard-S..._bxgy_b_text_b

The Maltese Falcon was first published in five-part serial form in Black Mask Magazine from the September 1929 to January 1930 issues. It was published in book form by Alfred A. Knopf in February, 1930. My copies of the book say that it is copyright 1930. That puzzled me.

The story as it appeared in the magazine is available in this Black Lizard collection, the first time the original magazine version has been published since then. More than 2,000 changes were made for the book version, some by the Knopf editors but most by Hammett.

Having read the novel for this discussion last summer, I think I will wait a few months to read the serial version, but I'm looking forward to it.
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Old 01-23-2012, 01:03 PM   #53
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I think I will wait a few months to read the serial version, but I'm looking forward to it.
Let us know what you think of it - and what differences you notice.

For what it's worth, my copy is also dated 1930. But the publisher is Cassell & Co. It could be that it's a British edition.
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Old 01-23-2012, 06:06 PM   #54
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Will do, Mike!
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Old 01-24-2012, 08:48 AM   #55
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Will do, Mike!
Thanks. I'm curious about that myself. I really enjoyed both the book and the movie with Humphrey Bogart, but without the book, some scenes in the movie, because of censorship, didn't make as much sense. I'm especially thinking of the scene where he takes her in the bathroom after she'd been accused of taking that money.
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Old 01-24-2012, 09:17 AM   #56
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I'm especially thinking of the scene where he takes her in the bathroom after she'd been accused of taking that money.
Isn't that the scene where, in the book, he insists she takes all her clothes off - ostensibly to prove she doesn't have the money?

I assume that didn't make it to the film (I'd have remembered it if did).

Mike
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Old 01-24-2012, 09:21 AM   #57
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Isn't that the scene where, in the book, he insists she takes all her clothes off - ostensibly to prove she doesn't have the money?

I assume that didn't make it to the film (I'd have remembered it if did).

Mike
Exactly. In the movie, he takes her in the bathroom and simply looks in her eyes and afterwards declares she doesn't have the money.

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Old 07-03-2012, 04:27 PM   #58
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For Christmas I received something I've wanted for years, but didn't know existed until just a few weeks before the big day - a collection of stories from Black Mask Magazine.

The Book is called The Black Lizard Big Book of Black Mask Stories.
http://www.amazon.com/Black-Lizard-S..._bxgy_b_text_b

The Maltese Falcon was first published in five-part serial form in Black Mask Magazine from the September 1929 to January 1930 issues. It was published in book form by Alfred A. Knopf in February, 1930. My copies of the book say that it is copyright 1930. That puzzled me.

The story as it appeared in the magazine is available in this Black Lizard collection, the first time the original magazine version has been published since then. More than 2,000 changes were made for the book version, some by the Knopf editors but most by Hammett.

Having read the novel for this discussion last summer, I think I will wait a few months to read the serial version, but I'm looking forward to it.
This past week I have read the original magazine version of The Maltese Falcon. I believe that the original was briefer and leaner. It would have been easier, I think, to notice the differences if I had read the magazine version first.

In the magazine version...

It was much easier to understand the plot.

I looked for certain concepts that were in the book, and they were all there, such as the Flitcraft story and the word "dingus".

There were a couple of movie concepts that I noticed were not in the story. For one, although he often said "By gad", Gutman (unlike Sidney Greenstreet) was not necessarily English. Iva was much more beautiful in the story than in the movie. And the story made clear that Effie didn't like her because she cheated on Miles.

I noticed two changes.

1) The chapter which introduced Gutman was called "The Fat Man" in the book, but "Gutman" in the magazine.

2) In the final chapter, as I recall Spade said, "Miles was a son of a b-." But in the magazine, he said, "Miles was a ----." In fact, the magazine had a lot more dashes than I recall in the book, but that may not be right.

I want to point out something that has not been previously mentioned in our discussion here. Hammett presents Effie to be responsible and reliable, giving her the reader's trust. Effie strongly said that she felt that Brigid was a good person. As we know, that was wrong; and I think that Hammett somewhat cheaply and unnecessarily betrayed the reader's trust.

It wasn't clear to me on whose behalf Cairo was working when he first hired Spade. Gutman? Hammett never made clear that Gutman and Cairo had a relationship prior to that date. Cairo's relationship was with Brigid in Constantinople, and Brigid was working for Gutman at that time, but the actual link (such as a meeting) between Cairo and Gutman at that point was never established, I don't believe.

Finally, an idea occurred to me as I was reading the magazine version midway through and recalling reading the book last year. As it turned out, my idea was right. Hammett didn't explain where Wilmer got a gun to kill Gutman with. Did he take it off of Gutman? Spade had Wilmer's guns in a closet at that time, and turned them over to Polhaus on the last page.

In summary, I enjoyed reading the magazine version more than reading the book because the plot was easier to follow. I recommend that you pick up a copy of this book and see for yourself.

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Old 07-03-2012, 06:14 PM   #59
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While I liked the Bogart movie, I felt that he and Astor had zero chemistry, and yes, her declaration of love and his response made little sense in that context.
Something I forgot to mention...

In the magazine version it is quite clear to me that Brigid's expectation at the end that Spade loved her was merely an act she was accustomed to employing to get her way with men. Spade's response was not the expression of someone torn over what to do, but rather a clear-headed response that passion didn't matter in this case.

I suspect that any doubt in my mind about this scene was caused by the Bogart movie rather than the book.
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Old 07-03-2012, 07:48 PM   #60
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Interesting. Those comments make me very much want to read the magazine version.

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For Christmas I received something I've wanted for years...The Black Lizard Big Book of Black Mask Stories.
http://www.amazon.com/Black-Lizard-S..._bxgy_b_text_b

The Maltese Falcon was first published in five-part serial form in Black Mask Magazine....
It's also available as an ebook from Amazon, but with a rather hefty price tag ($14.99). Then again, at just over 11 MB, the file size is rather hefty as well, as is the print version (1,136 pages).

It's not a bad price, considering what you get for it, but despite the presence of some of the most unforgettable and powerful names in detective fiction that grace its pages, it'll take a while to justify the expense before I can bring myself to hit the "buy" button.
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