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The Big Sleep & Farewell, My Lovely [Hardcover]

Raymond Chandler
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
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Book Description

May 2 1995 Modern Library
These two classic novels featuring private eye Philip Marlowe made Raymond Chandler's name synonymous with America's hard-boiled school of crime fiction.  The Big Sleep was an instant success when first published in 1939.  It centers around a paralyzed California millionaire with two psychopathic daughters; he involves Marlowe in a case of blackmail that turns into murder.

Farewell My Lovely, which Chandler regarded as his finest work, came out the following year.  It has Marlowe dealing with the Los Angeles gambling circuit, a murder he stumbles upon, and three very beautiful but potentially deadly women.
"Chandler writes like a slumming angel and invests the sun-blinded streets of Los Angeles with a romantic presence," said Ross Macdonald.  And George V. Higgins wrote:  "Chandler is fun to read.  He's as bleak as tundra, and his dirtbag characters far outnumber his stellar citizens, but Philip Marlowe is a laconic tour guide through a zoo of truly interesting animals."

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From the Back Cover

"Chandler did not write about crime, or detection--as he insisted he did not. He wrote about the corruption of the human spirit, using Philip Marlowe as his disapproving angel, and he knew about it, down to the marrow."

--George V. Higgins

About the Author

The Modern Library has played a significant role in American cultural life for the better part of a century. The series was founded in 1917 by the publishers Boni and Liveright and eight years later acquired by Bennett Cerf and Donald Klopfer. It provided the foundation for their next publishing venture, Random House. The Modern Library has been a staple of the American book trade, providing readers with affordable hardbound editions of important works of literature and thought. For the Modern Library's seventy-fifth anniversary, Random House redesigned the series, restoring as its emblem the running torch-bearer created by Lucian Bernhard in 1925 and refurbishing jackets, bindings, and type, as well as inaugurating a new program of selecting titles. The Modern Library continues to provide the world's best books, at the best prices.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
Seeing as how "The Big Sleep" and "Farewell, My Lovely" are the first two Philip Marlowe detective novels that Raymond Chandler wrote (published in 1939 and 1940, respectively), this is a grand place for a Chandler novice to begin pursuing the morally decrepit alleys and boulevards of the rich and not-so-rich in Los Angeles.
One thing you should note is that Chandler held the conventional detective stories (think: Agatha Christie) in disdain. Ergo, any attempt of mine to barf back the plots to you is a waste of time. They are so complex that you often forget exactly what happened shortly after you finish reading the books themselves...which doesn't detract from their quality whatsoever mind you. It's been told often enough that after their publication, Chandler often didn't even know what was going on in his own novels!
Suffice to say that both books concern murder among the wealthy elites in L.A. during Chandler's life--a time when the city was a lot smaller than its present size, and more hostile to outsiders--particularly to people of color. "The Big Sleep" concerns a disappearance and a reclusive millionaire and his two daughters (one is a mentally deranged nymphomaniac; the other is a bit more sensible, but no less shady) and the lengths he'll go to protect them. While this isn't the best Marlowe novel, this is probably the best place to start. Plus, it got made into a pretty good movie starring Bogie and Bacall.
"Farewell, My Lovely" is perhaps the most politically incorrect of the Marlowe books. It starts off with a murder at a bar in South Central L.A. and extends its tentacles into jewel heists and gambling rings where it is difficult to ascertain exactly who is doing what to whom. In Chandler's L.A., nothing is what it seems.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The importance of being Marlowe April 16 2002
Raymond Chandler's creation, Philip Marlowe, is a character that has influenced modern fiction greatly. Without Marlowe the archetype of "private dick" would not carry the cultural weight that it does today. It is true that the plot lines of many Chandler works are contorted to the point of no return, but it is not the plot that counts. The reason why these books are so successful is because we the reader become enthralled by Marlowe and his immediate knowledge of all things that surround him. Because Chandler made Marlowe such a carefully wrought character, Farewell, My Lovely becomes an examination of the human character rather than a list of dastardly deeds committed by crooks without depth. Every scene is an interaction between fully developed characters. He defines himself in relation to the people and actions that whirl in and out of his life. Marlowe offers us plenty of insight into his opinion of his relations. Because he is such an endearing person we want to believe every word he says. He is a product of the LA scene where he works. We the reader build confidence in our hero because he is capable of sizing up any situation immediately. Slowly we learn to trust Marloweï¿s way of navigating the underbelly of LA. I truly enjoyed Farewell, My Lovely because Chandler forces through Marlowe an undeniable wit and charm. He will make you laugh and draw you into his brand of thinking about other characters. I wonder sometimes when reading Chandler about how Marlowe would size me up. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading about interesting characters and loves a wry wit and dark charm.
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By A Customer
You don't have to love Los Angeles in its golden era of the 40's and 50's, but it sure helps as Chandler barrels his way through non-stop plots filled with twists and turns that make Mulholland Drive look like a country lane through old Pasadena. None of the films ever equalled the vibrancy of the printed word from this mystery master's old Remington. The tough cops on Chandler's Los Angeles Police force make wimps out of today's version of the same. Then there's the women -- all character and rarely moral -- but each will fascinate. These are the landmark works of the author and the genre. Read 'em and wish for a time machine!
Phill Catheral
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5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful genre Sept. 17 1999
By A Customer
Glad to see Raymond Chandler in a new edition, he's one of the best. His writing crackles. It's witty and poetic, a joy to read and re-read. Nothing like him has come out in the last forty years, except a part-spoof, part-serious leap into the 'hardboiled' genre called A Manual Of Etiquette For Ladies Crossing Canada By Train, handsome detective and gorgeous perp, brilliant language, on a transcontinental Canadian train, downing drinks in the club car. Hope more young writers take their lessons from Chandler. Marlowe is one of the great 20th century creations.
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