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Thread: Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep

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    Registered User Red Terror's Avatar
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    Raymond Chandler's The Big Sleep

    I read a detective novel from time to time but imagine how amused I was when I "finally" read Chandler's The Big Sleep. The novel, of course, filled in the gaps that no movie made in the late 1930s could be honest to reveal: that the detective Phillip Marlowe was investigating a porno-racket that was blackmailing the father of nymphomaniac Carmen Sternwood. The novel wasn't great but knowing all the little details made me appreciate and understand the film better. In this scene private detective Marlowe disguises himself as a prissy homosexual to get a better inside view of the porno-racket:

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    The novel wasn't great maybe but the oeuvre of Chandler is excellent. A writer's achievement can be more than the sum of the parts ( Unless there is only one part)

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    Quote Originally Posted by ennison View Post
    The novel wasn't great maybe but the oeuvre of Chandler is excellent. A writer's achievement can be more than the sum of the parts ( Unless there is only one part)
    I've been kind of hooked on Chandler's novels of late. The language is gorgeous, and worldly and cunning and funny. The Big Sleep is a great movie, and Bogart was a great Marlowe, but as the OP says, the books are a darker shade, and in all of them, violence and sex loom, alongside thuggish cops, sexy femme fatales who are damaged in some way, and cool dangerous hoods. They're probably all due a Hollywood remake, but as books, I'd recommend them to anyone who wants to read a thriller, but with literary credentials...

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    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    I think I have read most of Raymond Chandler's Marlowe books. I enjoyed them, but after reading a few I noticed a pattern to the plots.
    According to Aldous Huxley, D.H. Lawrence once said that Balzac was 'a gigantic dwarf', and in a sense the same is true of Dickens.
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    I've enjoyed all the Chandler books that I've read over the years.

    Have you noticed however how much detail goes into his interior designs, ( rugs, drapes, furniture, decor)? Its almost like a write up for "Home & Garden."

    He was also adept with the literary device " deus ex machina." If the plot flagged or found itself in a corner, invariably in walked a man holding a gun.

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    I love how Chandler writes but he was a notoriously poor plotter (you never find out who killed the chauffeur in 'The Big Sleep'). I noticed the detailed descriptions of rooms etc as well (also of what people wear). They really help establish a sense of a time and a place, but I wonder if it had anything to do with word count? I know 'Black Mask' paid by the paragraph, but maybe there were still some magazines that paid by the word - ie, maybe those lengthy descriptions were driven by financial rather than literary concerns?

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