Jim Thompson – dark poet of the plains | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 35, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 1466-0407
  • E-ISSN: 1758-9118



This article considers the life and career of the American novelist Jim Thompson, whose bleak vision of American society, and the Midwest in particular, led him to write a series of highly praised and influential ‘hard-boiled’ paperback novels, which were initially dismissed as popular entertainment, but are now considered American classics, showing the dark underside of the American Dream. Thompson laboured in obscurity for much of his life, and dealt with poverty, despair, alcoholism and the Great Depression, but triumphed late in life as his work gained prestige in France and England, and finally was adapted for the screen. Thompson’s life demonstrates that even in the absolute depths of commercial fiction, one can create a unique and compelling personal vision.


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