Saturday, October 2, 2010

No game for knights

Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe, introduced in The Big Sleep, has defined all private detectives in fiction.

Trench-coated masculinity: Humphrey Bogart and
Lauren Bacall in the film version of The Big Sleep
“The most durable thing in writing is style and style is the most important investment a writer can make with his time,” said novelist Raymond Chandler and certainly he practised what he preached. His 1939 novel The Big Sleep, the first — though certainly not the last — of his that I have read is so steeped in style that it crackles. Having tried his hand, with varying degrees of lack of success, at the civil service, journalism, stringing tennis racquets, picking fruit and book-keeping, Chandler turned to writing private detective stories for pulp magazines and after six years of maturing produced The Big Sleep. With that he created the archetypal private detective in Philip Marlowe, who along with Dashiell Hammett's Sam Spade, has defined all private detectives produced in fiction since. All the cool, laconic, tough men with an often surprising sense of right and wrong; to the extent that even Ian Fleming can be counted among his admirers.

Set in Los Angeles of the 1930s, The Big Sleep depicts a dark and uncertain world, a world of pornographers and gamblers, operating under the protective eye of crooked law officers, a world of blackmail, double-crossing and killing. And of course, blondes. (A famous Chandler quote: “I do a lot of research- particularly in the apartments of tall blondes.”) A corrupt, morally decayed world where love rings hollow and glamour only hides ugliness. Into such a world steps the “painfully” honest, hard-boiled private detective Philip Marlowe, with his eagle eye and somewhat anachronistic sense of ethics.

Full report here Hindu

No comments:

Post a Comment