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Feminism and the Hard-Boiled Genre: Breakdown in Sara Paretsky’s Breakdown

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As feminist re-writings of the genre of crime fiction (mostly the hard-boiled) from the 1980s onward, Sara Paretsky’s Warshawski novels provide a fertile field for critical and cultural studies. The aims of this paper are twofold: first, it traces the generic influences on her latest novel Breakdown (2012) beyond the obvious male precursors of the hard-boiled (Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler) of the interwar period to the Gothic vogue in the early 19th century; and second, drawing on Roland Barthes’s notion of readerly/writerly texts, Pierre Macherey’s critique of ideology in realist fiction, and Fredric Jameson’s dialectical view of genre, it teases out the symptomatic fissures and contradictions in Paretsky’s novel which betray the text’s inability to ultimately resist the ideology it intends to subvert.


International Letters of Social and Humanistic Sciences (Volume 45)
M. S. Beyad and M. Jabbari, "Feminism and the Hard-Boiled Genre: Breakdown in Sara Paretsky’s Breakdown", International Letters of Social and Humanistic Sciences, Vol. 45, pp. 24-34, 2015
Online since:
January 2015

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