The World of Raymond Chandler: In His Own Words


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His first novel, The Big Sleep , was published in In addition to his short stories, Chandler published seven novels during his lifetime an eighth, in progress at the time of his death, was completed by Robert B. All but Playback have been made into motion pictures, some more than once. In the year before his death, he was elected president of the Mystery Writers of America.

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Chandler had an immense stylistic influence on American popular literature. He is considered to be a founder of the hard-boiled school of detective fiction, along with Dashiell Hammett , James M. Cain and other Black Mask writers. The protagonist of his novels, Philip Marlowe , like Hammett's Sam Spade , is considered by some to be synonymous with "private detective". Both were played in films by Humphrey Bogart , whom many consider to be the quintessential Marlowe.

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The Long Goodbye was praised in an anthology of American crime stories as "arguably the first book since Hammett's The Glass Key , published more than twenty years earlier, to qualify as a serious and significant mainstream novel that just happened to possess elements of mystery". Chandler's reputation has grown in recent years. To obtain the best possible education for Ray, his mother, originally from Ireland, moved them to the area of Upper Norwood in what is now the London Borough of Croydon [6] in Chandler was classically educated at Dulwich College , London a public school whose alumni include the authors P.

Wodehouse [8] and C. He spent some of his childhood summers in Waterford with his mother's family. In , he was naturalized as a British subject in order to take the civil service examination, which he passed. He then took an Admiralty job, lasting just over a year.

His first poem was published during that time. Chandler disliked the servility of the civil service and resigned, to the consternation of his family, and became a reporter for the Daily Express and the Bristol Western Gazette newspapers. He was unsuccessful as a journalist, but he published reviews and continued writing romantic poetry. An encounter with the slightly older Richard Barham Middleton is said to have influenced him into postponing his career as writer.

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Shortly afterwards he committed suicide in Antwerp, a suicide of despair, I should say. The incident made a great impression on me, because Middleton struck me as having far more talent than I was ever likely to possess; and if he couldn't make a go of it, it wasn't very likely that I could. Nor was I at all a happy young man. In , he borrowed money from his Waterford uncle, who expected it to be repaid with interest, and returned to America, visiting his aunt and uncle before settling in San Francisco for a time, where he took a correspondence course in bookkeeping, finishing ahead of schedule.

His mother joined him there in late They moved to Los Angeles in , [11] where he strung tennis rackets, picked fruit and endured a time of scrimping and saving. He found steady employment with the Los Angeles Creamery. He saw combat in the trenches in France with the Gordon Highlanders , was twice hospitalized with Spanish flu during the pandemic [12] and was undergoing flight training in the fledgling Royal Air Force RAF when the war ended.

After the armistice , he returned to Los Angeles by way of Canada, and soon began a love affair with Pearl Eugenie "Cissy" Pascal, a married woman 18 years his senior and the stepmother of Gordon Pascal, with whom Chandler had enlisted. For the next four years Chandler supported both his mother and Cissy. After the death of Florence Chandler on September 26, , he was free to marry Cissy. They were married on February 6, In straitened financial circumstances during the Great Depression , Chandler turned to his latent writing talent to earn a living, teaching himself to write pulp fiction by studying the Perry Mason stories of Erle Stanley Gardner.

Chandler's first professional work, "Blackmailers Don't Shoot", was published in Black Mask magazine in Erle Stanley Gardner could turn out a pulp story in three or four days—and turned out an estimated one thousand. His first novel, The Big Sleep , was published in , featuring the detective Philip Marlowe, speaking in the first person.

In , Chandler described in a letter to his English publisher, Hamish Hamilton, why he began reading pulp magazines and later wrote for them:. Wandering up and down the Pacific Coast in an automobile I began to read pulp magazines, because they were cheap enough to throw away and because I never had at any time any taste for the kind of thing which is known as women's magazines.

This was in the great days of the Black Mask if I may call them great days and it struck me that some of the writing was pretty forceful and honest, even though it had its crude aspect. I decided that this might be a good way to try to learn to write fiction and get paid a small amount of money at the same time. After that I never looked back, although I had a good many uneasy periods looking forward. His second Marlowe novel, Farewell, My Lovely , became the basis for three movie versions adapted by other screenwriters, including the film Murder My Sweet , which marked the screen debut of the Marlowe character, played by Dick Powell whose depiction of Marlowe Chandler reportedly applauded.

Literary success and film adaptations led to a demand for Chandler himself as a screenwriter. Cain 's novel of the same title.

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The World of Raymond Chandler

The noir screenplay was nominated for an Academy Award. Said Wilder, "I would just guide the structure and I would also do a lot of the dialogue, and he Chandler would then comprehend and start constructing too. Chandler's only produced original screenplay was The Blue Dahlia He had not written a denouement for the script and, according to producer John Houseman , Chandler agreed to complete the script only if drunk, which Houseman agreed to. The script gained Chandler's second Academy Award nomination for screenplay. Chandler collaborated on the screenplay of Alfred Hitchcock 's Strangers on a Train , an ironic murder story based on Patricia Highsmith 's novel , which he thought implausible.

Chandler clashed with Hitchcock to such an extent that they stopped talking, especially after Hitchcock heard Chandler had referred to him as "that fat bastard". Hitchcock reportedly made a show of throwing Chandler's two draft screenplays into the studio trash can while holding his nose, but Chandler retained the lead screenwriting credit along with Czenzi Ormonde. The latter was derived from an unproduced courtroom drama screenplay he had written for Universal Studios. Four chapters of a novel, unfinished at his death, were transformed into a final Philip Marlowe novel, Poodle Springs , by the mystery writer and Chandler admirer Robert B.

Parker , in Parker shares the authorship with Chandler. Parker subsequently wrote a sequel to The Big Sleep entitled Perchance to Dream , which was salted with quotes from the original novel. Chandler's final Marlowe short story, circa , was entitled "The Pencil". In , "The Princess and the Pedlar" , a previously unknown comic operetta, with libretto by Chandler and music by Julian Pascal, was discovered [16] among the uncatalogued holdings of the Library of Congress.

The work was never published or produced. It has been dismissed by the Raymond Chandler estate as "no more than… a curiosity. Cissy Chandler died in , after a long illness.

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Heartbroken and drunk, Chandler neglected to inter her cremated remains, and they sat for 57 years in a storage locker in the basement of Cypress View Mausoleum. After Cissy's death, Chandler's loneliness worsened his propensity for clinical depression ; he returned to drinking alcohol, never quitting it for long, and the quality and quantity of his writing suffered. In The Long Embrace: Raymond Chandler and the Woman He Loved , Judith Freeman says it was "a cry for help," given that he called the police beforehand, saying he planned to kill himself.

Chandler's personal and professional life were both helped and complicated by the women to whom he was attracted—notably Helga Greene, his literary agent; Jean Fracasse, his secretary; Sonia Orwell George Orwell 's widow ; and Natasha Spender Stephen Spender 's wife. Chandler regained his U. After a respite in England, he returned to La Jolla.

He died at Scripps Memorial Hospital of pneumonial peripheral vascular shock and prerenal uremia according to the death certificate in Instead, he was buried in Mount Hope, because he had left no funeral or burial instructions. In , Chandler historian Loren Latker, with the assistance of attorney Aissa Wayne daughter of John Wayne , brought a petition to disinter Cissy's remains and reinter them with Chandler in Mount Hope.

Whitney entered an order granting Latker's request.


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On February 14, , Cissy's ashes were conveyed from Cypress View to Mount Hope and interred under a new grave marker above Chandler's, as they had wished. The shared gravestone reads, "Dead men are heavier than broken hearts", a quotation from The Big Sleep. Chandler's original gravestone, placed by Jean Fracasse, is still at the head of his grave; the new one is at the foot. In his introduction to Trouble Is My Business , a collection of four of his short stories, Chandler provided insight on the formula for the detective story and how the pulp magazines differed from previous detective stories:.

The emotional basis of the standard detective story was and had always been that murder will out and justice will be done. Its technical basis was the relative insignificance of everything except the final denouement.


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    The World of Raymond Chandler: In His Own Words The World of Raymond Chandler: In His Own Words
    The World of Raymond Chandler: In His Own Words The World of Raymond Chandler: In His Own Words
    The World of Raymond Chandler: In His Own Words The World of Raymond Chandler: In His Own Words
    The World of Raymond Chandler: In His Own Words The World of Raymond Chandler: In His Own Words
    The World of Raymond Chandler: In His Own Words The World of Raymond Chandler: In His Own Words

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