Re: RARA-AVIS: Chandler's Influence

Date: 14 Dec 2002


Re your post below:

> Chase was known to have visited both Miami and New
> Orleans. To claim that
> he never set foot in the US is inaccurate.

I'd read that he'd never been to the US. I stand corrected. Brief visits to Miami and New Orleans aside, however, his lack of knowledge about the places he wrote about is legendary.

> However, given that he did write a few PI novels,
> let's look at his most
> famous. Featuring PI, Dave Fenner, NO ORCHIDS FOR
> MISS BLANDISH was written
> in 1938 and published the following year. THE BIG
> SLEEP was also published
> in 1939.
> I find it hard to see how the large
> American city setting element
> of the Marlowe Paradigm (or any other element)
> established by THE BIG SLEEP,
> could have influenced Chase when neither he, nor
> anyone else, had read it.

The paradigm was actually set years earlier in the first Marlowe short story, "Finger Man," which predated ORCHIDS by several years. Maybe Chase never read Chandlers short fiction. Who knows? On the other hand, Chandler was often irritated by the fact that the British regarded him as a serious, important writer, while many Americans dismissed him as a genre hack. Perhaps Chase WAS an early admirer.
> And, Jim, lots of fictional private eyes operate
> outside American cities.
> For a local example, Quintin Jardine's Oz Blackstone
> (when he's not in
> Spain) and Paul Johnston's Quintilian Dalrymple are
> both based in Edinburgh.

Lots more don't. The PI story HAS become more international in recent years, but for many years, particularly the years immediately post-Chandler, it was almost exclusively the province of American characters.

There are always exceptions, but the large number of characters who fit the Marlowe paradigm in every single respect, particularly after "A" movies based on Chandler's novels began to be released in the post-war era, is truly staggering. For many years the Marlowe paradigm seemed almost as rigid a set of standards as the rules governing the writing of sonnetts.


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