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The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
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The Big Sleep (1939)

by Raymond Chandler

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Philip Marlowe (1)

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7,267213490 (3.98)527
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This is a classic noir novel, yet what elevates it above the ordinary, for me, is that it's also a song about Los Angeles, a place I once called home. LA presents many surfaces for many people--to see and be seen, to fantasize and be the objects of fantasy. But Chandler gets at the dark underside of it all in a way that few writers do. He sees the city in its stark white light and also in its shadows, he sees the glory and the rottenness and the flimsiness of the city's facades. It's a love song, a siren's song, and also a dirge, all rolled into an action-packed detective novel that carries you away in its own fantasies and hard-boiled lamentations. I love this book the way I love LA--not uncomplicatedly, but fully nonetheless. ( )
  MichaelBarsa | Dec 17, 2017 |
It's difficult not to like Raymond Chandler's work. This is only the second of his novels I have read, but this time, because I doubted Hollywood would replicate the pornography ring in detail, and it was a wet and windy Saturday night, I watched the 1946 film version of The Big Sleep starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. It was sufficiently different to the book not to affect my enjoyment of the story, and, I must say, it was good to watch a crisp black and white movie on my television. I watched it on Youtube, but the rented, rather than the pirated, version of the film. I am now off in search of African Queen and other Bogart classics and will follow these up with the novels, too. But The Big Sleep was an excellent read. I am struck by the complexity of Philip Marlowe's character that eludes the Bogart version. Because there is no real love story, as in the Hollywood version, there is much more to explore, and no need to find excuses for Lauren Bacall to appear so frequently. Marlowe reminds me of the Protestant ethic. It is OK to be a booze-hound and to smoke yourself to death, as long as you don't do reefers and you are admirable in your smuttiness towards the upper classes. Chandler's prose is brilliant, and it would appear, for now at least, that this novel is considered his best because it is his best. Not so many wise-cracks and heavy similes as Farewell, My Lovely, but, all the same, a cracker of a story, a likeable character, and a paddock full of fertilizer for the imagination in a mere 250 pages, and a one-page conclusion that brings multiple stories to a neat and satisfying finish. ( )
  madepercy | Nov 7, 2017 |
SHE WAS DRUNKER THAN A LEGION CONVENTION

If Raymond Chandler's "The Big Sleep" were released today, word unchanged, except for title and author, I have no doubt it would score no more than two stars by its handful of readers. It's as jammed filled with similes, metaphors, and other one-liners as an aging tap dancer's bustier is with.... My favorite all-time is "Dead men are heavier than broken hearts". That was on page 42 of my edition; I was already starting to get tired of them, and still had almost 200 pages to go. It's hard-boiled, it's noir, but worst of all, it's politically incorrect. As if the book wasn't hard enough to get through, I tortured myself worse than wearing tight shoes at a "dance till you drop" contest by watching the movie concurrently. I had seen the opening Bogie-with-General-Sternwood-sweating-in-the-orchid-nursery scene at least a dozen times.....and finally made it to the end. An ending, by the way, very different for that dame Bacall compared to the book's.

"The Big Sleep" - a metaphor for death in case you wondered - was released in 1939 and quickly became one of the most notable classics of mystery novels. This was a time when Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, and writers of locked room mysteries had been defining the genre for decades. Chandler, Dasheill Hammett, James Cain, and Mike Hammett all contributed to the exponential growth of crime fiction and paperback novels. Thanks for that guys, or else we'd all still be reading nothing but cosies for our crime fix.

But I was disappointed to discover that "The Big Sleep" has not aged well. The entire focus is on the crime at hand, there is no sub-plot, only a very convoluted and detailed plot about......I'm not sure. There is virtually no description of Los Angeles of the day, rather you get the sounds of rain dripping into the gutter while the gumshoe is getting soaked peering in through a window. We learn precious little of Marlowe's background even of his physical description - he's tall, a problem given Bogart's casting. There's no forensics, the police are involved only as a vehicle to repeat some dialog of who was where when. Very out of sync with today's crime fiction. No big twists, no surprises. So, it's interesting from a historical perspective, and I'm glad I read this one but it will be a long time before I read another 1940's noir. ( )
  maneekuhi | Oct 2, 2017 |
Philip Marlowe. Rich dying client. Two eccentric daughters. Porn. Gangsters. Plot twists. Bet you can't guess who did it. Chandler's first that defined a genre. Doesn't get any better. ( )
  dh-writer | Sep 26, 2017 |
Some winking stars from Chandler’s hardboiled cosmos:

“I’m unmarried because I don’t like policemen’s wives.”

“I don’t see what there is to be cagey about,” she snapped. “And I don’t like your manners.”

“I’m not crazy about yours,” I said. “I didn’t ask to see you. You sent for me. I don’t mind your ritzing me or drinking your lunch out of a Scotch bottle. I don’t mind your showing me your legs. They’re very swell legs and it’s a pleasure to make their acquaintance. I don’t mind if you don’t like my manners. They’re pretty bad. I grieve over them during the long winter evenings. But don’t waste your time trying to cross-examine me.”

“There’s been a lot of killing going on around me,” I said. “I haven’t been getting my share of it.”

This thing was absolutely choked with similes and I didn’t mind the lack of oxygen. Sinewy, smart and swaggering with its head and eyes set squarely forward. Sometimes with books this pervasive, I get bored halfway through. Imitators are legion, but they only usually copy the attitude and violence, skipping the atmosphere for flamboyant characters and gory acts instead of populating that world with warm-blooded, cool-headed beings eyestrained on the ever-churning cycle of that horror. It’s no wonder they turned this into a classic movie. It’s no surprise to me that the book is better ( )
  ToddSherman | Aug 24, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 202 (next | show all)
Novela repleta de nervio y de ingeniosos diálogos. Es un caso de chantaje el que lleva a Marlowe a asomarse a las alcantarillas de una sociedad en apariencia espléndida.
added by Pakoniet | editLecturalia
 

» Add other authors (49 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Raymond Chandlerprimary authorall editionscalculated
Adams, TomCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Del Buono, OresteTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gould, ElliottNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kidder, HarveyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ortlepp, GunarTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

Is contained in

The Big Sleep / Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler

Raymond Chandler: Stories and Early Novels: Pulp Stories / The Big Sleep / Farewell, My Lovely / The High Window (Library of America) by Raymond Chandler

A Treasury of Great Mysteries [Volume 2] by Howard Haycraft

The Big Sleep and Other Novels by Raymond Chandler

The Big Sleep/Farewell, My Lovely/The High Window by Raymond Chandler

The Chandler Collection: Volume 1 by Raymond Chandler

Has the (non-series) sequel

Has the adaptation

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It was about eleven o'clock in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills.
Quotations
Such a lot of guns around town, and so few brains.
Whoever had done it had meant business. Dead men are heavier than broken hearts.
It had the austere simplicity of fiction rather than the tangled woof of fact.
What did it matter where you lay once you were dead? In a dirty sump or in a marble tower on top of a high hill? You were dead, you were sleeping the big sleep, you were not bothered by things like that. Oil and water were the same as wind and air to you. You just slept the big sleep, not caring about the nastiness of how you died or where you fell.
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Book description
Plot Summary: The decrepit General Sternwood hires Detective Marlowe to investigate Geiger, the man who is blackmailing him. Marlowe discovers Geiger is running a pornography lending library under the front of an antique book store. Marlowe tries to confront Geiger, but finds Geiger dead along with evidence that Geiger has been taking nude photos of Sternwood’s youngest daughter Carmen. While Marlowe takes the drugged Carmen home, Geiger’s body disappears along with the photographic evidence. As one murder leads to another, Marlowe must follow the clues to protect the Sternwood family from its own dark secrets.
Appeal Factors: Private investigator subgenre. Narrated in the first-person by Marlowe. Primary characters are complex. The atmosphere is dark and brooding. The frame highlights the dark underbelly of L.A. The language is succinct, but very descriptive; powerful, gritty and realistic. Action scenes are suspenseful and fairly fast-paced, with space for reflection in between. The reader is drawn in as Marlowe uncovers each new layer of clues. Violent, but not graphic.
Haiku summary
General's daughters
are handful for Marlowe...but
who did slay chauffeur?
(abbottthomas)

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0394758285, Paperback)

"His thin, claw-like hands were folded loosely on the rug, purple-nailed. A few locks of dry white hair clung to his scalp, like wild flowers fighting for life on a bare rock." Published in 1939, when Raymond Chandler was 50, this is the first of the Philip Marlowe novels. Its bursts of sex, violence, and explosively direct prose changed detective fiction forever. "She was trouble. She was tall and rangy and strong-looking. Her hair was black and wiry and parted in the middle. She had a good mouth and a good chin. There was a sulky droop to her lips and the lower lip was full."

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:17:51 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

When a case of blackmail involving the daughter of a California millionaire leads to murder, the inimitable Philip Marlowe is stirred into action as he becomes embroiled in a troublesome case of extortion complicated by kidnapping, pornography, seduction, and murder.… (more)

» see all 10 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140108920, 0141037598

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