Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
For Raymond Chandler, the uncle of alleged child molestation victim Jordy Chandler, and author of a book about the case, see Michael Jackson: 1993 allegation of child sexual abuse.
Raymond Thornton Chandler (July 23, 1888 – March 26, 1959) was an American author of crime stories and novels. His influence on modern crime fiction has been immense, particularly in the writing style and attitudes that much of the field has adopted over the last 60 years.
Chandler was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1888, but moved to Britain in 1895 when his parents divorced. He entered Dulwich College in 1900, and was naturalised as a British citizen in 1907 in order to take the Civil Service exam. He passed the exam and took a job at the Admiralty, where he worked for just over a year. His first poem was published during this time. After leaving the Civil Service, Chandler worked as a jobbing journalist, and continued to write poetry in the late Romantic style.
Chandler returned to the U.S. in 1912 and trained as a bookkeeper and accountant. In 1917, he enlisted in the Canadian Army and fought in France. After the armistice he moved to Los Angeles and began an affair with an older woman (Cissy Pascal), whom he later married. By 1932 Chandler had attained a vice-presidency at Dabney Oil Syndicate but lost this well-paying job as a result of his alcoholism.
He taught himself to write pulp fiction in an effort to draw an income from his creative talents, and his first story was published in Black Mask in 1933. His first novel, The Big Sleep, was published in 1939.
Chandler worked as a Hollywood screenwriter following the success of his novels, working with Billy Wilder on James M. Cain's novel Double Indemnity (1944), and writing his only original screenplay, The Blue Dahlia (1946).
Cissy died in 1954 and Chandler, heartbroken and suffering from a painful nervous disease, turned once again to drink. His writing suffered in quality and quantity, and he attempted suicide in 1955. He died in 1959 of pneumonia.
Chandler's finely wrought prose was widely admired by critics and writers from the high-brow (W.H. Auden, Evelyn Waugh) to the low-brow (Ian Fleming). Although his swift-moving, hardboiled style was inspired largely by Dashiell Hammett, his use of lyrical similes in this context was quite original. Turns of phrase such as "The minutes went by on tiptoe, with their fingers to their lips" (The Lady in the Lake, 1943), have become characteristic of private-eye fiction, and he has given his name to the critical term Chandleresque. His style is also the subject of innumerable parodies and pastiches.
Chandler was also a perceptive critic of pulp fiction, and his essay "The Simple Art of Murder" is a standard academic reference.
- The Big Sleep (1939), his first
- Farewell, My Lovely (1940)
- The High Window (1942)
- The Lady in the Lake (1943)
- The Little Sister (1949)
- The Long Goodbye (1954)
- Playback (1958)
- Poodle Springs (1959) (incomplete; completed by Robert B. Parker in 1989)
All concern the cases of a Los Angeles investigator named Philip Marlowe, "a nice clean private detective who wouldn't drop cigar ashes on the floor and never carried more than one gun," as Marlowe describes himself on the first page of The High Window. Farewell, My Lovely, The Big Sleep, and The Long Goodbye are arguably his masterpieces.
Stories Featuring Philip Marlowe
- Trouble is My Business
- Red Wind
- Spanish Blood
- I'll be Waiting
- The King in Yellow
- Pearls are a Nuisance
- Pickup on Noon Street
- Smart-Aleck Kill
- Guns at Cyrano's
- Nevada Gas
- "Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. The detective must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor. He talks as the man of his age talks, that is, with rude wit, a lively sense of the grotesque, a disgust for sham, and a contempt for pettiness."
--"The Simple Art of Murder"
- The Raymond Chandler website
- The IMDb entry on Chandler
- Raymond Chandler at Thrilling Detective
- Bibliography of UK 1st Editions
- The Opposite of Showbusiness A play by Jim Grover about how Raymond Chandler became a writer.
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