(Original review, 1981-03-01)
Hammett made no secret of Hammett’s wider (I suppose "wider" will do) literary ambitions, or that he earned his living writing a particular kind of story long after he'd have preferred to write something else. What I don't know is how and especially when he picked up his knowledge of literature. If ever there was an autodidact, it was Hammett. He left school at fourteen and set out on an amazingly varied series of jobs. Somewhere in the course of these he learned to write.
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