RARA-AVIS: Marlowe's Blood

From: Michael Robison ( miker_zspider@yahoo.com)
Date: 12 Feb 2007

Mark wrote:

A sleazy PI who specializes in divorce cases is hardly Chandler's noble knight.

************** Marlowe appears to me as far less the noble knight than he appears to some. I don't have my books with me, but I recall the beginning of one where he is called to a rich woman's house, gets filthy drunk, gets caught playing tongue tag with her by her husband, and then makes plans to meet her later on. He's a snob sometimes, too, and not very particular about who it's aimed at, be it the common folk or the rich. He is given to whining too. I remember being saddened by the ending of one Marlowe novel (The Big Sleep?) with him sniveling about his lack of money. What a miserable way to end a novel about a supposedly noble character. I think that these incidents were mistakes on Chandler's part, at least as far as what he was trying to do. Maybe Chandler was washing his sins in Marlowe's blood.

At the root of the Marlowe novels there is an undercurrent of misanthropy stunning in its proportion, and it grows louder and more shrill as the novels progress. I like the novels. Chandler writes like a slumming angel (I just now made that up). But them books has got some issues.


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