Re: RARA-AVIS: Chandler's women

James Rogers (
Tue, 26 Oct 1999 18:08:14 -0500

At 04:41 PM 10/26/99 -0400, Michael D. Sharp wrote:
>James wrote:
>>By contrast, Chandler's women always seem to be either Saint or
>>Devil, which matches the common male adolescent mode of perception.
>This seems really off the mark to me. I don't see saint or devil anywhere.
>I mean, there are manipulative, deceptive, mean women in his novels, but in
>something like the Big Sleep, I don't see either of the women there as
>devil or saint. Carmen and ... unh, what's her name? Is it Vivian? Anyway,
>the Sternwood girls/women, while hugely flawed, don't seem demonic to me.
>Carmen's mental and Vivian is protective of her. Right? Am I misremembering
>the book? That would be bad (though not surprising).
>And I don't see a single woman in his novels I would describe as "wish
>fulfillment." I wouldn't wish these women on anyone (except readers).

      Well, the Big Sleep isn't the best example, I guess. But I think that one sees plenty of it in some of the other novels. "Saint" types would include, for me, the cop's daughter in _Farewell, My Lovely_ as well as the one Marlowe finally ends up marrying. Demon types are obviously represented by the really nasty villainesses of FMV and _Little Sister_, but also , I think, by many of the women who are represented as sexually available....for instance, virtually every Hollywood starlet we encounter in the stories.
      Of course, it's possible I am projecting!
      Just to clarify, I am a huge Chandler fan myself, and have read all of the books over and over (except _Playback_). I wish that the
"cannibalized" stories were more readily available as I think they would make a great discussion topic for the group. It is interesting to see the way RC altered the material to fit it into the novels. In several cases I may actually prefer the original pieces to the rewrite.
     Let us know when your anthology is scheduled for publication.


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