The Long Good-Bye

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Author: Chandler, Raymond Thornton (1888-1959)

Year: 1953

Publisher: Hamish Hamilton

Place: London


320 pages. Small octavo (7 1/2" x 5 1/4") bound in original publisher's maroon with silver lettering to spine in original pictorial jacket. Jacket design by Fritz Wegner. (Bruccoli A10.1.a.) First edition, first printing. The English edition preceded the American by a few months.

Critics and writers, ranging from W. H. Auden to Evelyn Waugh to Ian Fleming, greatly admired the finely wrought prose of Raymond Chandler. Although his swift-moving, hardboiled style was inspired mostly by Dashiell Hammett, his sharp and lyrical similes are original: "The muzzle of the Luger looked like the mouth of the Second Street tunnel"; "The minutes went by on tiptoe, with their fingers to their lips", defining private eye fiction genre, and leading to the coining of the adjective 'Chandleresque', which is subject and object of parody and pastiche. Yet, Philip Marlowe is not a stereotypical tough guy, but a complex, sometimes sentimental man of few friends, who attended university, speaks some Spanish and, at times, admires Mexicans, is a student of classical chess games and classical music. He will refuse a prospective client's money if he is ethically unsatisfied by the job. The high critical regard in which Chandler is generally held today is in contrast to the critical pans that stung Chandler in his lifetime. In a March 1942 letter to Mrs. Blanche Knopf, published in Selected Letters of Raymond Chandler, Chandler complained: "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." Chandler's short stories and novels are evocatively written, conveying the time, place, and ambiance of Los Angeles and environs in the 1930s and 1940s. The places are real, if pseudonymous: Bay City is Santa Monica, Gray Lake is Silver Lake, and Idle Valley a synthesis of rich San Fernando Valley communities. Raymond Chandler also was a perceptive critic of pulp fiction; his essay "The Simple Art of Murder" is the standard reference work in the field. All but one of his novels have been cinematically adapted, notably The Big Sleep (1946), by Howard Hawks, with Humphrey Bogart as Philip Marlowe; novelist William Faulkner was a co-screenplay writer. Raymond Chandler's few screen writing efforts and the cinematic adaptation of his novels proved stylistically and thematically influential upon the American film noir genre.


Previous owner's small neat signature and acquired date and place on front end paper, head corners gently bumped. Jacket professionally repaired at spine ends and edges, slight rippling and soiling at back else a very good copy in like jacket.

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