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The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

The Big Sleep (original 1939; edition 2008)

by Raymond Chandler

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6,719188555 (3.98)490
Title:The Big Sleep
Authors:Raymond Chandler
Info:Penguin (2008), Paperback
Collections:Your library

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The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler (1939)

1930s (5)
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English (180)  Spanish (4)  French (2)  Hebrew (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  All languages (188)
Showing 1-5 of 180 (next | show all)
Raymond Chandler virtually invented the private eye novel as we think of it today, marrying American noir with the hard-boiled detective. This is one of those few books that can truly be said that changed the American literary landscape.

A dying millionaire hires Philip Marlowe to take care of a situation involving the younger of two daughters. It seems that she has either been losing too much in an illegal casino and is the victim of blackmail. Marlowe's job is to make the trouble go away. But this doesn't even scratch the surface of what's waiting for him as he begins to investigate. Before long, the daughter is at the scene of a murder while modeling for a pornography ring. Meanwhile, the older daughter's husband, a former gun- and alcohol-runner, has disappeared and everyone assumes Marlowe was hired to find him.

The Big Sleep introduces Philip Marlowe to the world in 1939. When writing the dialogue associated with this type of detective fiction, it's a balancing act to make it without degenerating into a self-parody. Chandler makes it look easy. The dialog and narration deliver plenty of chuckles, but are polished to perfection. The plot is convoluted and very confusing, with layers upon layers for Marlowe to keep peeling back.

This novel isn’t a great character study, but this is not a cast of two dimensional characters, either. Marlowe’s character is well-developed and likeable. The more minor characters are not developed as thoroughly, but they don’t feel generic at all.

Even though I had a hard time reading this book without picturing Humphrey Bogart in the role of Philip Marlowe, it is quite different than the movie. The original story goes into territory that was strictly off limits in the Hollywood of that era, especially the pornography. Remember, this was set in 1939 LA, and posing for nude photographs was shocking, even though today it seems to be no big deal. The fact that the younger daughter is a nymphomaniac was also shocking, and would set many on edge just talking about this book when it was written. The movie was “softened”, removing most of the shocking scenes, and reworking the role of Vivian for Lauren Bacall to focus more on the romance between her and Marlowe, smartly playing on the close relationship Ms. Bacall had with Mr. Bogart. Even still, both the book and the movie are very strong American classics.

Both the book and the movie are highly recommended! ( )
  ssimon2000 | May 31, 2016 |
Fast-paced, so fast that I had flip back the pages a few times to check what I had missed out. I found at least one loophole, it wasnt clearly explained whether Owen committed suicide or was murdered. Philip Marlowe is a very well-shaped character but you do wonder why he talks so much, something that General Sternwood marvelled at too. Still he is not one-dimensional and the ending was very touching. Must add that the writing was exquisite, Chandler packed so much into a few words. ( )
  siok | May 4, 2016 |
This book features probably the most famous American fictional detective, Philip Marlowe. The story is quite tightly plotted and there are some good set piece scenes, but I can't say it appealed to me. I didn't a feel a connection to any of the main characters, though I felt sorry for the dying General Sternwood. This was the first Marlowe novel, yet he has no background and doesn't emerge as a rounded character. Not sure if I would try any of the other novels featuring this character. ( )
  john257hopper | Apr 18, 2016 |
1939 ( )
  ChrisPisarczyk | Mar 17, 2016 |
Likes: guns, rain. Not so hot on gay people or women. ( )
  thebookmagpie | Mar 13, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 180 (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

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/Farewell My Lovely/The Long Goodbye 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.
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 4 descriptions

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3 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140108920, 0141037598

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