dissabte, 2 de maig de 2009

RAYMOND CHANDLER (2)


LADY IN THE LAKE
The novel's complicated plot initially deals with the case of a missing woman in a small mountain town an hour or so from the city.
The ending of the book makes a direct reference to America's involvement in World War II, which was barely mentioned in Chandler's other wartime books.
The entire novel was seen from the viewpoint of the central character, the detective Philip Marlowe, a still very young man:
- wandering around Los Angeles, Bay City and the Lake.
- in search of a hidden truth, but finding only some murders and some hopeless people.
A change of scenery as Marlowe heads out of the city and into the hills in a search for a missing person. Perhaps inevitably, what he finds is a corpse. But there is nothing inevitable about the rest of the story. All the usual elements are there, but they are woven into something new and the differences in setting provide a refreshing contrast to earlier works.
The complexity of the plot required an explanation at the end which is perhaps a slight disappointment for it does not create an anti-climax:
- His descriptions of the lake and its community are extremely well done (Marlowe’s several brief encounters with deer are both amusing and pin sharp in their accuracy).
- But whilst the contrast between rural and urban life is pointed, there is no dewy eyed romanticism.
- It’s not the scenery that commits murder, it’s the people.
- With an end that fittingly marks what would be the last Marlowe novel for some time; this is yet another fine work that uses a specific genre to explore the universal verities of human existence.

THE LONG GOODBYE
It is notable for using hard-boiled detective fiction as a vehicle for social criticism. It is also known for having autobiographical elements that relate to Chandler's life:
- It was Chandler’s most ambitious book, the book where he attempted to stretch the boundaries of private eye fiction to take the genre into the realm of serious literature.
- Yet The Long Goodbye was written under extraordinarily difficult circumstances, his wife Cissy was dying, and underwent a major rewrite.
- In his effort to write a "serious" novel, Chandler had put more focus on Marlowe than ever before,
- and in trying to illustrate the importance Marlowe places on his friendship with Terry Lennox--and his ultimate disillusionment with Lennox in what Marlowe sees as his moral bankruptcy.
- Chandler’s method of rewriting was radical:
* Rather than keeping most of what was in his current draft and making accretive changes to it,
* he started nearly from scratch, saving only the few words or phrases that resonated from the previous draft.
The initial critical reception in England was stronger than it was in the U.S.:
- Many in England immediately regarded the work as Chandler’s best
- and the Sunday Times reviewed him as a novelist, rather than a detective storywriter, which pleased Chandler very much.
- And they recognized The Long Goodbye as a novel that truly broke through the boundaries of genre fiction into literature.
There are three central themes:
1. decadence and death:
- due to time erosion
- man is falling through his own existence.
2. the relationship between the capitalist society and the police reveals some important conclusions:
- law is not justice.
- Only by using the right devices, and with good luck, may Justice be done.
- Only very powerful people know the right devices.
- Police are conscious of corruption, they defend a corrupted social class.
- If a policeman is honest, he will never get promotion.
3. the effects of the society on people show how rich people are not affected by the violence of the streets.

Finally, it must be said that the book was recognized by those who continued to toil in the genre Chandler had worked so hard to break free of: it was also awarded the Edgar for best novel in 1955, the same year that Agatha Christie was elected as the Mystery Writers of America’s first Grandmaster.