RARA-AVIS: Fred jameson 'On Raymond Chandler'

From: Eddie Duggan ( Eddie.Duggan@suffolk.ac.uk)
Date: 05 May 2000

Re. that FJ article, 'On R. C.' I had a quick scan of the article yesterday, and here's my summary of it.
[Most of the meat of this lengthy article is in Pt II.]


(BTW, if anyone wants the article, contact me off-list).



Part I

Jameson discusses RC's style and biography. FJ compares RC to Nabokov and Robbe-Grillet.

FJ claims 'the detective story form is without ideological content, w/o any overt political or social or philosophical point, [which] permists pure stylistic experimentation' (p. 625).

RC is 'a painter of American life', in 'fragmentary pictures of setting and place' (p. 626).

FJ also discusses Proust, and the idea that the detective story is 'a pretext' for 'isolated perceptions' (p. 627).

Section closes w. a discussion of Gertrude Stein's ideas about the differences in 'atmosphere' between American and British detective stories.

Part II

FJ cfs Am. lit w. UK lit. The 'great period' of Am l.it for FJ is between the wars. Post WWII, the 'localised differences' [btwn diff Am. regional lits] have gone, leaving a standardised literature of 'fragmentation' and
'dehumanisation' [ie decentred, post-modern]. This postmodern condition produces 'a crisis' in Am lit from FJ.

FJ locates RC at a midpoint, between post-war and interwar Am. lit; he does this by combining RC's interwar biography with his decentred geography (ie LA) ti suggest RC anticipates 'the realities of the 1950s and 1960s' (p. 629)..

FJ suggests the detective novel works like the picaresque novel, the chr of the detective works to unite disparate elements, allowing a kind of re-unification of the fragments [ie to counter the fragmentation of postmodernity]

'Marlowe visits either those places you don't look at or those you can't look at: the anonymous or the wealthy or the secret' (p. 630).

For FJ this 'presentation of social material' is more a function of Europ'n lit thatn Am lit.

FJ suggests Am. 'political reality' is a 'double system': he contrasts
'glamourous national politics' with shabby, corrupt local politics.
[My, how Am. politics have changed sice FJ wrote this in 1970!!]

FJ finds RC's dialogue cliched, resembling early faulkner or Hemingway, but with some underlying emotion, which gives RC's sppech patterns their charactistic *inauthenticity*.

FJ also notes that steretypical speech patterns are charactistic of films of the 1930s--stock chrs with stock speech patterns.

Part III

Detective fiction is a form of popular art. Popular art is camp. Pop art is a form of nostalgia.

Part IV
[From what I recall, Pt IV doesn't really add anything]


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