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The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

The Big Sleep (original 1939; edition 1988)

by Raymond Chandler

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6,447175597 (3.99)471
Title:The Big Sleep
Authors:Raymond Chandler
Info:Vintage (1988), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 139 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (1939)

1930s (5)
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English (168)  Spanish (3)  French (2)  Hebrew (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  All languages (175)
Showing 1-5 of 168 (next | show all)
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. ( )
  jrthebutler | Sep 23, 2015 |
The Big Sleep - Raymond Chandler *****

I have only recently discovered the Noir style of novel through James M Cain’s works and really enjoyed them. I love the way the story is conveyed through short sharp sentences, where barely a word seems wasted. Other authors may attempt to fluff up a novel in order to fill more pages, but this is certainly not the case here. Raymond Chandler seemed the next stop after Cain, so where better to start than with his first novel (written in 1939) featuring his famous investigator Phillip Marlowe.

What is it about?
Marlowe is summoned to the home of General Sternwood and employed to investigate a case of blackmail involving one of his two daughters. Marlowe accepts but things aren’t quite as they seem, and he becomes embroiled in multiple murders, enticed by numerous simmering broads and discovers a pornography ring. But this isn’t your usual murder mystery outing, Chandler has created a fairly intricate plot (I sometimes had to flick back a few pages to remember who was who) with a protagonist that only follows his own moral compass and not necessarily that of the law.

What did I like?
The descriptive language used has to be some of the best I have ever read, and to be honest I can’t understand why this novel has not quite achieved ‘classic’ status yet. Maybe it is because of the subject matter or just plain snobbery? The storyline never stagnates and the pages fly by. I am sure that whoever reads this book will come away with a few cutting remarks and one liners stuck in their head for months later.

What didn’t I like?
There wasn’t anything in particular that really stood out as a negative, but if I were to be really picky I did at times get slightly lost in the plot and found myself rereading a few pages to get my bearings back.

Would I recommend?
Definitely, whether you are a fan of the whole noir period or just want to have a taster, The Big Sleep is an ideal read. I am sure I will be picking out the rest of Chandler’s works shortly. ( )
  Bridgey | Sep 22, 2015 |
I’m surprised I hadn’t read any Raymond Chandler before reading this one. His style is certainly effective with his Philip Marlowe being given many vivid ways of putting things such as ‘She gave me one of those smiles the lips have forgotten before they reach the eyes’ and ‘The coffee shop smell from next door came in at the windows with the soot but failed to make me hungry. So I got out my office bottle and took the drink and let my self-respect ride its own race’.

It is, in fact, Marlowe and the style which held my attention so well. I found the plot difficult to follow and was pleased I was reading an electronic version which allowed me to search for a name now and then when I couldn’t remember its original context. I did resort to looking online at one stage to clarify the plot and was relieved to find that it’s well known for its complexity and even Chandler himself couldn’t say who killed the chauffeur.

It must be one of the most effective novels in this genre, one which offers escapism to the reader as well as a measure of sadness as we recognize the isolated life of its impregnable hero, immune as he is both to any human frailties and attacks on him – i.e. if you care to think about it, as impossible a creation as he is. Still, you don’t read this sort of book for an insight into the human condition and I was well able to just enjoy the atmosphere as Marlowe yet again ‘thought about it most of the day. Nobody came into the office. Nobody called me on the phone. It kept on raining’. ( )
  evening | Aug 22, 2015 |
It was difficult to read it without Phillip Marlow's voice in my head...although he's a pretty sly character (and ethical in a time when many private eyes may not have been. ( )
  sraelling | Aug 12, 2015 |
I just want Phillip Marlowe to glance me over and sum me up with wit and irreverence...

( )
  mcquery123 | Jul 20, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 168 (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 (55 possible)

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

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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.
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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Wikipedia in English (1)

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?

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)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 5 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140108920, 0141037598

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