Raymond Chandler

(1888 – 1959)

Raymond ChandlerBiographical Sketch

Raymond Thornton Chandler (Chicago, IL, USA, July 23, 1888 – La Jolla, CA, USA, March 26, 1959) was an American novelist and screenwriter.

In 1932, at age forty-four, Raymond Chandler decided to become a detective fiction writer after losing his job as an oil company executive during the Depression. His first short story, Blackmailers Don’t Shoot, was published in 1933 in Black Mask, a popular pulp magazine. His first novel, The Big Sleep, was published in 1939. In addition to his short stories, Chandler published just seven full novels during his lifetime (though an eighth in progress at his death was completed by Robert B. Parker). All but Playback have been realized into motion pictures, some several times. In the year before he died, he was elected president of the Mystery Writers of America. He died on March 26, 1959, in La Jolla, California.

Chandler had an immense stylistic influence on American popular literature, and is considered by many to be a founder, along with Dashiell Hammett, James M. Cain and other Black Mask writers, of the hard-boiled school of detective fiction. His protagonist, Philip Marlowe, along with Hammett’s Sam Spade, is considered by some to be synonymous with “private detective,” both having been played on screen by Humphrey Bogart, whom many considered to be the quintessential Marlowe.

Some of Chandler’s novels are considered to be important literary works, and three are often considered to be masterpieces: Farewell, My Lovely (1940), The Little Sister (1949), and The Long Goodbye (1953). The Long Goodbye is praised within 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”.

Read more about Raymond Chandler on Wikipedia.

 

Major Awards and Honors

Edgar (Allan Poe) Awards
(Mystery Writers of America)
  • 1955:Best Novel – “The Long Goodbye”

 

Bibliography

Philip Marlowe Novels
  • The Big Sleep (1939)
  • Farewell, My Lovely (1940)
  • The High Window (1942)
  • The Lady in the Lake (1943)
  • The Little Sister (1949)
  • The Long Goodbye (1953)
  • Playback (1958)
    Based on Chandler’s unproduced 1948 screenplay.
  • Poodle Springs (1989)
    – Unfinished at the time of Chandler’s death; completed by Robert B. Parker.
“Pulp” Stories / Short Story Collections
  • Spanish Blood (1946)
    • “Spanish Blood”
    • “The King in Yellow”
    • “Pearls Are a Nuisance”
    • “Nevada Gas”
    • “Trouble is My Business”
  • Five Murders (1944)
    • “Goldfish”
    • “Spanish Blood”
    • “Blackmailers Don’t Shoot”
    • “Guns at Cyrano’s”
    • “Nevada Gas”
  • Five Sinister Characters (1945)
    • “Trouble is My Business”
    • “Pearls Are a Nuisance”
    • “I’ll Be Waiting”
    • “The King in Yellow”
    • “Red Wind”
  • Red Wind (1946)
    • “Red Wind”
    • “Blackmailers Don’t Shoot”
    • “I’ll Be Waiting”
    • “Goldfish”
    • “Guns at Cyrano’s”
  • Finger Man, and Other Stories (1947)
    • “Finger Man”
    • “The Bronze Door”
    • “Smart-Aleck Kill”
  • The Simple Art of Murder (1950)
    • “Finger Man”
    • “Smart-Aleck Kill”
    • “Guns at Cyrano’s”
    • “Pick-up on Noon Street”
    • “Goldfish”
    • “The King in Yellow”
    • “Pearls Are a Nuisance”
    • “I’ll Be Waiting”
    • “Red Wind”
    • “Nevada Gas”
    • “Spanish Blood”
    • “Trouble is My Business”
    • “The Simple Art of Murder”
  • Trouble Is My Business (1950)
    • “Trouble Is My Business”
    • “Red Wind”
    • “I’ll Be Waiting”
    • “Goldfish”
    • “Guns at Cyrano’s”
  • Pick-up on Noon Street (1952)
    • “Pick-up on Noon Street”
    • “Smart-Aleck Kill”
    • “Guns at Cyrano’s”
    • “Nevada Gas”
  • Smart-Aleck Kill (1953)
    • “Smart-Aleck Kill”
    • “Pick-up on Noon Street
    • “Nevada Gas”
    • “Spanish Blood”
  • Pearls Are a Nuisance (1958)
    • “Pearls Are a Nuisance”
    • “Finger Man
    • “The King in Yellow”
    • “The Simple Art of Murder”
  • Killer in the Rain (1964)
    • “Killer in the Rain”
    • “The Man Who Liked Dogs”
    • “The Curtain”
    • “Try the Girl”
    • “Mandarin’s Jade”
    • “Bay City Blues”
    • “The Lady in the Lake”
    • “No Crime in the Mountains”
  • The Smell of Fear (1965)
    • “Blackmailers”
    • “Don’t Shoot”
    • “Pearls Are a Nuisance”
    • “Finger Man
    • “The King in Yellow”
    • “Smart-Aleck Kill
    • “Pick-up on Noon Street
    • “Nevada Gas”
    • “Spanish Blood”
    • “Trouble is My Business
    • “Red Wind”
    • “I’ll Be Waiting”
    • “Goldfish”
    • “Guns at Cyrano’s”
    • “The Pencil”
Screenplays
  • Double Indemnity (1944)
    With Billy Wilder; nominated for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.
  • And Now Tomorrow (1944)
    With Frank Partos.
  • The Unseen (1945)
    With Hagar Wilde.
  • The Blue Dahlia (1946)
    Nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.
  • The Innocent Mrs. Duff (1946)
      Unproduced.
  • Playback (1948)
    Unproduced.
  • Strangers on a Train (1951)
    With Czenzi Ormonde.
Collections and Anthologies
  • The Hard-Boiled Omnibus (1946)
  • Chandler before Marlowe: Raymond Chandler’s Early Prose and Poetry, 1908–1912 (1973)
  • Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe: A Centennial Celebration (1990)
    23 Philip Marlowe stories by various writers as well as Chandler’s The Pencil.
  • Raymond Chandler: Stories and Early Novels (1995)
    Library of America collection.
  • Raymond Chandler: Later Novels and Other Writings (1995)
    Library of America collection.
Essays, Articles, Letters, and Other Nonfiction
  • The Simple Art of Murder (1944)
  • Oscar Night in Hollywood (1948)
  • Ten Per Cent of Your Life (1952)
  • Raymond Chandler Speaking (1962)
    Letters, criticism and fiction.
  • Raymond Chandler on Writing (1962)
    Pamphlet containing material from Raymond Chandler Speaking, published for promotional purposes.
  • The Notebooks of Raymond Chandler, and “English Summer: A Gothic Romance” (1976)
    Diaries and short story.
  • Raymond Chandler and James M. Fox: Letters (1979)
    – Letters; privately printed.
  • Selected Letters of Raymond Chandler (1981)
    Letters.
  • The Raymond Chandler Papers: Selected Letters and Non-Fiction, 1909–1959 (2000)
    Letters and essays.

 

A Selection of Quotes

The Long Goodbye

“There is no trap so deadly as the trap you set for yourself.”

“One would think a writer would be happy here – if a writer is every happy anywhere.”

“When I got home I mixed a stiff one and stood by the open window in the living room and sipped it and listened to the groundswell of traffic on Laurel Canyon Boulevard and looked at the glare of the big angry city hanging over the shoulder of the hills through which the boulevard had been cut. Far off the banshee wail of police or fire sirens rose and fell, never for very long completely silent. Twenty four hours a day somebody is running, somebody else is trying to catch him. Out there in the night of a thousand crimes, people were dying, being maimed, cut by flying glass, crushed against steering wheels or under heavy tires. People were being beaten, robbed, strangled, raped, and murdered. People were hungry, sick; bored, desperate with loneliness or remorse or fear, angry, cruel, feverish, shaken by sobs. A city no worse than others, a city rich and vigorous and full of pride, a city lost and beaten and full of emptiness. It all depends on where you sit and what your own private score is. I didn’t have one. I didn’t care. I finished the drink and went to bed.”

“Alcohol is like love,” he said. “The first kiss is magic, the second is intimate, the third is routine. After that you take the girl’s clothes off.”

The High Window

“From 30 feet away she looked like a lot of class. From 10 feet away she looked like something made up to be seen from 30 feet away.”

“A check girl in peach-bloom Chinese pajamas came over to take my hat and disapprove of my clothes. She had eyes like strange sins.”

The Lady in the Lake

“She looked playful and eager, but not quite sure of herself, like a new kitten in a house where they don’t care much about kittens.”

The Little Sister

“I hung up.
It was a step in the right direction, but it didn’t go far enough. I ought to have locked the door and hid under the desk.”

Playback

“Common sense is the guy who tells you that you ought to have had your brakes relined last week before you smashed a front end this week. Common sense is the Monday morning quarterback who could have won the ball game if he had been on the team. But he never is. He’s high up in the stands with a flask on his hip. Common sense is the little man in a grey suit who never makes a mistake in addition. But it’s always someone else’s money he’s adding up.”

The Simple Art of Murder

“Hammett gave murder back to the kind of people that commit it for reasons, not just to provide a corpse; and with the means at hand, not hand-wrought dueling pistols, curare and tropical fish.”

The Notebooks of Raymond Chandler

“There are two kinds of truth: the truth that lights the way and the truth that warms the heart. The first of these is science, and the second is art. Neither is independent of the other or more important than the other. Without art science would be as useless as a pair of high forceps in the hands of a plumber. Without science art would become a crude mess of folklore and emotional quackery. The truth of art keeps science from becoming inhuman, and the truth of science keeps art from becoming ridiculous.”
(Great Thought, February 19, 1938)

“[As a screenwriter] I have a sense of exile from thought, a nostalgia of the quiet room and balanced mind. I am a writer, and there comes a time when that which I write has to belong to me, has to be written alone and in silence, with no one looking over my shoulder, no one telling me a better way to write it. It doesn’t have to be great writing, it doesn’t even have to be terribly good. It just has to be mine.”
(A Qualified Farewell)

“The dilemma of the critic has always been that if he knows enough to speak with authority, he knows too much to speak with detachment.”
(A Qualified Farewell)

Raymond Chandler Speaking

“The solution, once revealed, must seem to have been inevitable. At least half of all the mystery novels published violate this law.”
(Casual Notes on the Mystery Novel, 1949)

“The private detective of fiction is a fantastic creation who acts and speaks like a real man. He can be completely realistic in every sense but one, that one sense being that in life as we know it such a man would not be a private detective.”

Find more quotes by Raymond Chandler on Wikiquote and Goodreads.

 

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