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Raymond Chandler

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Raymond Chandler

    Raymond Thornton Chandler 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. Chandler's Philip Marlowe, along with Hammett's Sam Spade, are 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".


Philip Marlowe series[edit]



These are the criminal cases of Philip Marlowe a Los Angeles private investigator. Their plots follow a pattern in which the men and women hiring him reveal themselves as corrupt, corrupting, and criminally complicit as those against whom he must protect his erstwhile employers.

Short stories

Typically, the short stories chronicle the cases of Philip Marlowe and other down-on-their-luck private detectives (e.g. John Dalmas, Steve Grayce) or good samaritans (e.g. Mr Carmady). The exceptions are the macabre "The Bronze Door" and "English Summer", a Gothic romance set in the English countryside.

Interestingly, in the 1950s radio series The Adventures of Philip Marlowe, that included adaptations of the short stories, the Philip Marlowe name was replaced with the names of other detectives, e.g. Steve Grayce, in "The King in Yellow". In fact, such changes restored the stories to their originally published versions. It was later, when they were republished, as Philip Marlowe stories that the Philip Marlowe name was used, with the exception being "The Pencil".

Detective short stories

  • "Blackmailers Don't Shoot" (1933)
  • "Smart-Aleck Kill" (1934)
  • "Finger Man" (1934)
  • "Killer in the Rain" (1935)
  • "Nevada Gas" (1935)
  • "Spanish Blood" (1935)
  • "The Curtain" (1936)
  • "Guns at Cyrano's" (1936)
  • "Goldfish" (1936)
  • "The Man Who Liked Dogs" (1936)
  • "Pickup on Noon Street" (1936; originally published as "Noon Street Nemesis")
  • "Mandarin's Jade" (1937)
  • "Try the Girl" (1937)
  • "Bay City Blues" (1938)
  • "The King in Yellow" (1938)[2]
  • "Red Wind" (1938)
  • "The Lady in the Lake" (1939)
  • "Pearls Are a Nuisance" (1939)
  • "Trouble is My Business" (1939)
  • "No Crime in the Mountains" (1941)
  • "The Pencil" (1959; published posthumously; originally published as "Marlowe Takes on the Syndicate", also published as "Wrong Pigeon" and "Philip Marlowe's Last Case")

Most of the short stories published before 1940 appeared in pulp magazines like Black Mask, and so had a limited readership. Chandler was able to recycle the plot lines and characters from those stories when he turned to writing novels intended for a wider audience.

Non-detective short stories

  • "I'll Be Waiting" (1939)
  • "The Bronze Door" (1939)
  • "Professor Bingo's Snuff" (1951)
  • "English Summer" (1976; published posthumously)

"I'll Be Waiting", "The Bronze Door" and "Professor Bingo's Snuff" all feature unnatural deaths and investigators (a hotel detective, Scotland Yard and California local police, respectively), but the emphasis is not on the investigation of the deaths.



Atlantic Monthly magazine articles:

  • Writers in Hollywood (December 1944)
  • The Simple Art of Murder (November 1945)
  • Oscar Night in Hollywood (March 1948)
  • Ten Percent of your Life (February 1952)
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