Re: RARA-AVIS: Chandler's Influence

From: Al Guthrie (
Date: 14 Dec 2002

----- Original Message ----- From: "JIM DOHERTY" <>
> 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.

To me, an inelegantly written, humorless, third person PI novel (where the PI doesn't even appear until over halfway through) is fundamentally alien to everything of Chandler's I've ever read. Maybe I'm missing something.

> > 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.

That's because it was almost exclusively the province of American writers. If Chandler had never existed, I suspect most PI novels would still have been set in the US. But we'll never know.

> 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.

Inarguably. Anything successful will have its imitators. Which raises the question: how much of the Marlowe paradigm is based on the Spade prototype, I wonder?


# To unsubscribe from the regular list, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to
#  This will not work for the digest version.
# The web pages for the list are at .

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 14 Dec 2002 EST