The Glass Key across cultures

The beauty of Hammett´s The Glass Key is in the multiple possible readings of the details. While I was reading this book after discussing the homosexual hints in the movie I was hard-pressed not to think of José Donoso´s El Lugar Sin Límites. Donoso´s book is a Chilean Novel from the late 60´s that was also made into a movie. The title of his book can be literally translated as “the place without limits”. In both books the characters are forced, by choice or setting to wear a certain “mask” that makes it so that the reader and the other characters never really know exactly what they are thinking.

Analyzing Donoso’s book it is interesting to see that he may have lifted many parts of the story and structure from Hammet. Both deal with political struggles, Donoso’s is between the gang in a lawless town and the Don who rules over the vineyard. Donoso’s is interesting in the way that it takes the central female character and replaces it with a transvestite. Through this method Donoso includes both the love triangle that we see with Paul, Ned and Janet and uses La Manuela to replace Janet. This is entirely to detailed to completely cover in a blog, but it is intersting how if not the story, but many of the themes seem to cross cultural boundaries. Being that Donoso was a film buff I do not find it unlikely that he deliberately included elements of The Glass Key in his novel. I am interested to see how these themes play out in Yojimbo, and look forward to analyzing how through film these ideas crossed cultural boundaries into not only other films, but written works as well.

The only commentaries and summaries I have of this book by Donoso are in Spanish but if someone would like a brief description post a comment or ask me in person.

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