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Raymond Chandler

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In 1939, his first novel, The Big Sleep, was published. He went on to write six more novels, many of which were made into movies. He also wrote original screenplays, such as Double Indemnity (1944) and Strangers on a Train (1951).

Born out of the tradition of Hammett and James M. Cain, Chandler's work and his protagonist Philip Marlowe stand as one of the landmarks of American literature.

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Tim Sismey - 04:48am Mar 30, 2000 PST(#59 of 79)

Just for reference - if you're intending to read Tom Hiney's Chandler biography BEWARE. The stuff on his life is very well written, but his stuff on the books is, quite frankly, wrong. I appreciate that writing a synopsis of one of Chandler's labyrinthine plots is something of a Herculean task (sorry slipped into stoopid mythological analogy there), but he could at least have taken the time to re-read the books. He actually gets the murderer wrong in more than one of his plot summaries! Marlowe is a modern-day knight errant, for sure, but unfortunately that's something of an outdated notion in 1930s LA - hardly anyone else has any morals, which is why Marlowe is such an ineffectual detective.

P Marlowe - 09:59pm Mar 30, 2000 PST(#60 of 79)
Glenview 7537 - Hollywood

Tim Sismey, it has been said that even Chandler couldn't keep up with his multi-layered plots.

I wrote a paper on him in college and likened Marlowe's travels to a ride down the river Styx replete with murky interiors, monsters and godesses.

Tim Sismey - 03:11am Mar 31, 2000 PST(#61 of 79)

Except he'd've been unconscious or drugged for most of it..... I know the plots are complex (RC himself described them as "'what the hell happened?' rather than 'whodunnit?'"), but if you're going to write a book about the man, at least make sure you know who killed who. This is, after all, the only thing that Marlowe generally solves...

Hugh Drummond - 06:09am Apr 3, 2000 PST(#62 of 79)
" I have a criminal mind... I see bad in everyone," (Mr. J.G. Reeder)

Even then, it can be quite diffcult to work out with some of the corpses.


P Marlowe - 09:13pm Apr 7, 2000 PST(#63 of 79)
Glenview 7537 - Hollywood

Tim Sismey, I'm not so sure it was the Whodunit in Chandler as much as the Whydunit.

The complexity and turmoil of the characters' existences are what drives these books - or at least that is how I've always felt when I read them.

Marlowe (the Knight) remains aloof and beyond touch - unlike so many of the heroes of the "noir" genre, that is why he survives. If he gets involved, which he did in The Long Goodbye he becomes a victim.

Tim Sismey - 04:52am Apr 10, 2000 PST(#64 of 79)

Hmmmm.... Going to have to beg to differ there Marlowe... Your namesake is ALWAYS getting involved, and it's always his undoing. He falls for Orfamay Quest's charms, and because he's so morally unbending is regularly caught out by those more slippery than he is. By my reckoning, he only remains conscious all the way through one book!! He wants to do the right thing by his clients, who more often than not are the most crooked characters in the book (The Long Goodbye, The High window, the Little Sister, Farewell My Lovely all have clients who end up being the actual crims). Compare this to Sam Spade, who is employed by Miss Wonderly without being taken in by her ("we didn't believe your story, we believed you 200 dollars") Don't get me wrong, I like marlowe, but I think he's out of step with his surroundings. He's trying to take the rules of the Round Table and apply them to Hollywood, and it doesn't work. "This isn't a game for knights", as he notes in 'The Big Sleep'...

P Marlowe - 03:39pm Apr 15, 2000 PST(#65 of 79)
Glenview 7537 - Hollywood

Agreed, Tim, but in a world without rules, which post-WWII America had become, Marlowe was the best of all men.

Sam Spade lived by some of the same codes as Marlowe, but infinitely more corrupt.

If or when Marlowe did become involved, like Spade, he did not suffer the consequences as did other modern heroes who misunderstood the rules of engagement.

That is what makes these books. Romanticism was dead and existentialist heroes living a naturalistic predetermination took its place.

Marlowe was the last of the romantics, but he certainly did not succumb like Robert in "The Sun Also Rises" or a multitude of lost souls who populate the film noir of that era.

Hugh Drummond - 04:12am May 3, 2000 PST(#66 of 79)
" I have a criminal mind... I see bad in everyone," (Mr. J.G. Reeder)

Oddly enough, some blokes rather like Marlowe's Quixotry. Usually because we are also saps, who will fall for a pretty face, nice ankles, and a well worked-out sob story.


Tim Sismey - 03:22am May 5, 2000 PST(#67 of 79)

Please don't get me wrong, guys. I think Marlowe's a great character, and I love the stories, but he's just not a very effective detective, is he? Does he ever actually manage to protect his client successfully? I don't think so. But he's true to himself, and that's the important thing.

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