Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Lost Work by Raymond Chandler Uncovered

An early work by Raymond Chandler has been discovered. Thus far, the Chandler estate is blocking publication or performance of the libretto, called The Princess and the Pedlar, as being “a very early work, and not representative of Chandler’s oeuvre. Yes, it is of course a curiosity, but we feel no more than that.”

Writing for The Guardian, former January Magazine contributing editor, Sarah Weinman, tells the fascinating story of the rediscovery of The Princess and the Pedlar at length:
The 48-page libretto to the comic opera The Princess and the Pedlar, with music by Julian Pascal, has hidden in plain sight at the library since its copyright was first registered on 29 August 1917.
The work, a copy of which was obtained by the Guardian, was found in March by Kim Cooper, shortly after she published her debut novel, The Kept Girl, featuring a fictionalised Chandler in 1929 Los Angeles. 
While looking for more information about Pascal, Cooper discovered a missing link between Chandler’s English boyhood and his detective fiction: a witty, Gilbert-and-Sullivan-inflected libretto for a fantasy-tinged romance between Porphyria, daughter to the King and Queen of the Arcadians, and Beautiful Jim, a “strolling Pedlar.”
Chandler penned pithy lines for supporting players, and even foreshadowed his own crime fiction career, as when the humpback Gorboyne sings: “Criminals dyed with the deepest dyes/Hated of all the good and wise, Soaked in crime to the hair and eyes/Very unpleasant are we.”
The full piece is here.


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