Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Chandler as Art

Master crime writer Raymond Chandler was born on this day in 1888. The author started writing detective fiction at the age of 44 because, at the height of the Depression, the former oil company executive had lost his job.

Chandler was one of the most influential voices of American detective fiction. His books include the masterworks Farewell, My Lovely (1940), The Little Sister (1949), and The Long Goodbye (1953).

In a 1942 letter to Blanche Knopf, Chandler explained his thoughts on the duality of his work:
The thing that rather gets me down is that when I write something that is tough and fast and full of mayhem and murder, I get panned for being tough and fast and full of mayhem and murder, and then when I try to tone down a bit and develop the mental and emotional side of a situation, I get panned for leaving out what I was panned for putting in the first time.
Still, from the very beginning, Chandler had his fans. According to The Telegraph, W H Auden wrote that Chandler’s “powerful but extremely depressing books should be read and judged, not as escape literature, but as works of art.”


Blogger Trish Saunders said...

Raymond Chandler would snort at this comparison. But his complaints about being labeled remind me of the derision slapped on female writers like Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Weiner. The difference? Raymond Chandler's books have moved into revered "dick lit" status while Jennifer Weiner and others still get the "chick lit" dismissive treatment by critics...if they get noticed at all. I am a huge admirer of Raymond Chandler, but I long for the day when female writers get accorded this level of respect.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013 at 9:45:00 AM PDT  

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