RARA-AVIS: The Ending of The Long Goodbye {[SPOILER]

From: Mark Harris ( mark_r_harris@yahoo.com)
Date: 26 Feb 2002

Erick wrote:

<I would certainly call it tragic. It's a kick in the teeth to the chivalric code Marlowe has lived his life by. It's a death of part of himself. How do you begin to mourn that?>

And Chris wrote:

<The Long Good-Bye is a tragedy. When Lennox/Maioranos disappears down that corridor "first
[his footsteps] grew faint, then they got silent." Marlowe is saying goodbye not only to his friend but to a whole moral code, an heroic model, and a whole era in American history. In my opinion this novel is Chandler's lament at the arrival of the new postmodern world that he, and Marlowe, will never fit into. If it's not tragic, what is it?>

One of the brilliancies of Robert Altman's controversial film adaptation of The Long Goodbye is to show *exactly* how Marlowe will fail to fit in, by placing a seemingly misfit version of him into just that postmodern order. (I say "seemingly" because by the end of the film, we know that Elliott Gould's Marlowe is in fact plenty tough.) Another coup is to answer Erick's question - "How do you begin to mourn that?" - by having Marlowe do the logical thing, the thing his code in fact demands: he kills the friend who has deceived him. (This is also an inspired way for Altman to deal with the "anxiety of influence" - he out-hardboils Chandler himself.)


===== Mark Harris Educational Consulting College Admissions Strategies 773-914-3472 http://admissionsplus.blogspot.com/

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