The World of Raymond Chandler

The World of Raymond Chandler
Edited by Barry Day

Vintage Books

Raymond Chandler’s work typifies the pulp fiction era, with his stable of hard-boiled wisecracking private eyes, Philip Marlowe being among the most well known.

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“. . . one of those rare writers whose work epitomized an era.”

Chandler’s career evolved from producing stories for cheap pulp magazines to writing best-selling full-length novels, although his spells of Hollywood script-writing in the 1940s were less successful. 

The fictional Marlowe’s outlook on life in general, and Los Angeles in particular, reflected that of Chandler himself, who had a love-hate relationship with the city he adopted. Barry Day uses a selection of private letters, excerpts taken from Chandler’s books, and photos of the period to illustrate how much of the writer’s own personality went into his work. Chandler’s attitude toward women comes through in Marlowe’s encounters with the fairer sex, as does his cynicism toward corruption in society and authority. Yet the element of the knight-errant, struggling to overcome all odds on behalf of those who need him, shows clear. 

Chandler’s use of lyrical and frequently exaggerated similes gave the word Chandleresque to the English language. A complex man who straddled the different worlds of England and America, Chandler had a long and happy marriage to an older woman, yet battled alcoholism and the psychological and emotional hangover of a British private school education. 

In The World of Raymond Chandler, Day has succeeded in casting a light on one of those rare writers whose work epitomized an era. Recommended for anyone coming fresh to Chandler’s work or for a fan looking for a more intimate look at the man himself. 

Reviewer: Cindy A. Matthews