RARA-AVIS: Re: Simple Art of Murder?

From: Michael Sharp ( msharp@binghamton.edu)
Date: 17 Jul 2006

Dear Miker,

Chandler pub'd "Simple Art of Murder" first in 1944 (in the _Atlantic Monthly_) and then, in revised form, in 1946, in ... crap, I'll look it up: OK, he revised it for Howard Haycraft's anthology _The Art of the Mystery Story_, 1946.

Things get confusing after that. In 1952 Houghton Mifflin pub's a collection of Chandler stories entitled _The Simple Art of Murder_, which Chandler decided should NOT have the 1946 version as a preface. Instead, he put it at the end and wrote a NEW introduction. This NEW intro subsequently gets pub'd in Saturday Rev of Lit and elsewhere as
"The Simple Art of Murder" -- making things very very muddled, as there are now two (three, if you count the 1944 version) essays by that name floating around under the name "Simple Art of Murder."

For a very enlightening and cogent discussion of all the problems regarding this essay, there is a great article by Miranda Hickman
(2003) -- she maintains (convincingly) that Chandler rewrote his original "Simple Art" between '44 and '46 in response to a rather truculent letter-to-the-editor from one Mr. Anthony Boucher. I have the Hickman article in pdf format if you want it.

Best, Michael Sharp

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