Re: RARA-AVIS: Chandler course

Date: 08 Mar 2004


Re your comments below:

> None of Chandler's stories from the 1930s originally
> featured Philip Marlowe
> as a character, but I think that the character in
> most of these stories is
> indeed Marlowe in virtually every aspect but name.
> Several factors outside
> of the stories themselves indicate that Chandler
> would concur.
> For example, Chandler is well known for his tendency
> to "cannibalize" his
> better stories for material in his novels. Fredric
> Jameson calls this
> tendency of Chandler's a "deliberate, self-conscious
> apprenticeship." There
> are examples of large chunks of text being taken
> almost verbatim from the
> short stories and dropped into the novels.
> Another compelling bit of evidence is that after
> Chandler's Marlowe novels
> gained popularity, Chandler's publisher proposed
> issuing a collected edition
> of the short stories, with the name Philip Marlowe
> substituted for the names
> of the various protagonists; Chandler went along
> with this plan, apparently
> without objection. Chandler's consent suggests that
> he did indeed consider
> the short story detectives to be Marlowe under
> different names (though the
> motivation could, of course, have been primarily
> economic).

I cover this in the course. Another compelling point:
 The first "Marlowe" story (that is, the first story featuring a character who would later be referred to as "Marlowe") introduces Marlowe's cop contact, DA's Investigator Bernie Ohls, who is, except for Marlowe himself, the most frequently recurring character in the "official" series.
> Finally-and perhaps most important-is a comment that
> Chandler made in a 1950
> letter to New York Herald-Tribune mystery critic
> James Sandoe. Speaking of
> the use of Marlowe's name in the republication of
> the short stories,
> Chandler observed that Marlowe "certainly had his
> genesis in two or three of
> the novelettes." In this letter, Chandler
> specifically cited the story
> "Finger Man," published in 1934, suggesting that his
> protagonist had not
> changed much between this story and THE HIGH WINDOW,
> published in 1942.
> "Finger Man," Chandler's third published story,
> originally featured an
> unnamed protagonist. This nameless detective was
> later renamed Marlowe in
> the 1950 collection of Chandler's pulp fiction THE

Chandler was the one who made the changes when the stories appeared in TSAM. Another point, when Chandler wrote "The Pencil," the only short story originally written about Marlowe, he added an accompanying forward in which he referred to it as his first "Marlowe story in 20 years," suggesting that he did regard the character who was called "Carmady" in BLACK MASK and "John Dalmas" in DIME DETECTIVE, to be the same character.
> Still, I am disappointed that the recently published
> collection of
> Chandler's complete short stories uses the "revised"
> naming. I. too, prefer
> the original vision. It just seems more pure.

I figure the way the appeared in TSAM is the way Chandler wanted them remembered. Also I read the the TSAM versions first.


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