"HAMMETT'S FINEST WORK AND POSSIBLY THE BEST AMERICAN DETECTIVE NOVEL EVER WRITTEN": RARE FIRST EDITION, FIRST PRINTING OF THE MALTESE FALCON, IN EXCEPTIONAL FIRST PRINTING DUST JACKET, A STUNNING COPY
HAMMETT, Dashiell. The Maltese Falcon. New York and London: Alfred A. Knopf, 1930. Octavo, original gray cloth, original dust jacket. Housed in a custom clamshell box.
First edition, first printing of Hammett's most famous and influential novel, "the foundation of the literature he invented," a Haycraft Queen cornerstone, in rare unrestored first printing dust jacket, an especially handsome unrestored copy.
"Maltese Falcon is arguably America's greatest detective novel." Hammett designed "a new hero for new readers in a new era" (Marling, American Roman Noir, 126-133). In 1995 Mystery Writers of America ranked Maltese Falcon second in its top 100 mystery novels of all time (first was Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes works). On publication, New Republic called the novel "glistening and fascinating," achieving "an absolute distinction of real art… the genuine presence of myth" (Bruccoli & Layman, 119-20). "The only novel in which the famous Sam Spade appears, regarded by many as Hammett's finest work, this is possibly the best American detective novel ever written. Whatever its merits, this and the two earlier Hammett novels established the American hard-boiled private-eye novel as a subgenre of crime fiction unique to the United States" (Top 100 Mystery Novels 2).
"Hammett made his debut in the October 1, 1923 issue of Black Mask" with a story introducing his Pinkerton agent, the Continental Op. In 1929 Hammett made his debut as a novelist with Red Harvest and Dain Curse and that same year introduced his famed private eye Sam Spade in the September 1929 issue of Black Mask. "In 1930 Knopf published Hammett's third novel, Maltese Falcon… It would become not only his best-loved work, but the foundation of the literature he had invented… A Haycraft Queen cornerstone, and a Keating 100 selection" (Johnson, Dark Page, 132). In 1941 John Huston made his directorial debut with the iconic film adaptation starring Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, Peter Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet. Huston later recalled that Hammett's novel "was told entirely from the standpoint of Sam Spade, and so too is the picture… This too was something of an innovation at that time" (Pratley, Cinema of John Huston). "First edition, first printing with no statement of edition or printings on copyright page. First issue dust jacket with both Red Harvest and Dain Curse priced at $2.00 on rear panel; front flap with publisher's summary (later replaced by blurbs). Serially published in five parts in Black Mask, 1929-30. Crime and Mystery: The 100 Best Books 16. Layman A3.1.a.
Book fine; lightest edge-wear, a few tiny closed tears to edges of beautiful price-clipped about-fine dust jacket. One of the finest copies to come along in years.