Re: RARA-AVIS: Is Marlowe a real pro?
29 Jan 99 12:11:00 -0500 --UNS_gsauns2_3045922310
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Regarding Mario's comments below:

"On rereading Chandler's stories in The Simple Art of Murder, I notice that
Marlowe (Dalmas) is mostly following hunches and often doesn't know how to take
care of himself. The beatings he takes and the traps he walks into wouldn't
happen nearly as often to a professional, who would simply not stick his nose
in certain places without preparation and some backup. Is this dangerous
tendency to improvise part of Marlowe's magical charm as a character?"

Regarding Marlowe's tendency to rely on hunches, this does not strike me as
unprofessional. Most pros in real life (and in well-done fiction) develop an
instinctive knack for coming up with the right answer. It's a function of being
so focused on one's profession, that one's subconscious works on problems while
the conscious mind is busy elsewhere. The difference between Sherlock Holmes's
"brilliant deductions" and an experienced street cop's "inspired hunch" is
nothing more than the ability, in Holmes's case, to articulate what led him to a
conclusion on a conscious level, and the lack of ability, in the street cop's
case, to articulate what reasoning processes his subconscious used. Marlowe, in
this context, is an experienced street cop. As for his tendency to rush into
danger, which Dian alluded to below:

"Could it be a demonstration of Marlowe's pessimism and lack of
self-worth? He seems to view his white-knight/paladin streak with
a great deal of irony--perhaps he sees his situation as hopeless
and himself as not worth protecting."

I think it's a lot more likely that Chandler, as a comparative
novice still learning his craft, just wanted to get Marlowe into a
dangerous situation (remember his comment that the best plot is
one that allowed for the highest number of dramatic scenes), and
wasn't all that adroit at doing it. In "Red Wind" it doesn't seem
quite so noticeable. However, read back-to-back with "Trouble Is
My Business," one does start to notice that an awful lot of people
seem to get the drop on him. In fact, it becomes a running joke.
(There's some line about how he might as well leave the gun at
home since everyone in town seems to be able to take it away from
him). It's been a number of years, but it seems to me that he's a
generally more in control of the situation in the novels.

As for his not waiting for cover, remember that his is a one-man
agency. He doesn't really have anyone to call for cover when a
situation starts to break, the way a street cop does. And
Chandler was writing in the era before the (to me) unfortunate
trend of giving the good-guy PI a psycho sidekick to do all the
dirty work. - Jim Doherty

-----Diane Trap

> Just some rambling thoughts.
> Regards,
> mt
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