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  • Published: 1 October 1995
  • ISBN: 9781883011086
  • Imprint: Library of America
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 1088
  • RRP: $84.99

Raymond Chandler

The Library of America Edition




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. I was wearing my powder-blue suit, with dark blue shirt, tie and display handkerchief, black brogues, black wool socks with dark blue clocks on them. I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn’t care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be. I was calling on four million dollars.

With humor, along with an unerring sense of dialogue and the telling details of dress and behavior, Raymond Chandler created a distinctive fictional universe out of the dark side of sunlit Los Angeles. In the process, he transformed both crime writing and the American language.

Written during the war, The Lady in the Lake (1943) takes Philip Marlowe out of the seamy L.A. streets to the deceptive tranquility of the surrounding mountains, as the search for a businessman’s missing wife expands into an elegy of loneliness and loss. The darker tone typical of Chandler’s later fiction is evident in The Little Sister (1949), in which an ambitious starlet, a blackmailer, and a seemingly naïve young woman from Manhattan, Kansas, are the key players in a plot that provides fuel for a bitter indictment of Hollywood and Chandler’s most savage portrayal of his adopted city.

The Long Goodbye (1953), his most ambitious and self-revealing novel, uncovers a more anguished resonance in the Marlowe character, in a plot that hinges on the betrayal of friendship and the compromises of middle age. Playback (1958), written originally as a screenplay, is Chandler’s seventh and last novel.

A special feature of this volume is Chandler’s long-unavailable screenplay for the film noir classic, Double Indemnity (1944), adapted from James M. Cain’s novel. Written with director Billy Wilder, it is one of the best screenplays in American cinema, masterful in construction and dialogue. Supplementing the volume, and providing a more personal glimpse of Chandler’s personality, is a selection of letters and essays—including “The Simple Art of Murder,” in which Chandler muses on his pulp roots and on the special qualities of his hero and style.

LIBRARY OF AMERICA is an independent nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1979 to preserve our nation’s literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, America’s best and most significant writing. The Library of America series includes more than 300 volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1,000 pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.

  • Published: 1 October 1995
  • ISBN: 9781883011086
  • Imprint: Library of America
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 1088
  • RRP: $84.99

About the author

Raymond Chandler

Raymond Chandler was born in Chicago in 1888 but moved to England with his mother when he was twelve after his parents' divorce. He was educated at Dulwich College, London and studied international law in France and Germany. He published a number of poems and essays in local papers and worked as a reporter, essayist and book reviewer before emigrating to the United States in 1912. After serving for the Canadian Army during the First World War he tried a variety of jobs before becoming a bookkeeper and auditor for Dabney Oil Syndicate. In 1924 he married Cissy Pascal. When Chandler lost his job during the Great Depression, he decided to devote himself to writing. He began writing short stories for Black Mask Magazine, the best known of the 'hard-boiled' school of pulp fiction magazines. In 1939 he published his first novel The Big Sleep to instant acclaim in Britain and the US, introducing the world to his iconic private eye, Philip Marlowe. Marlowe went on to star in almost all of Raymond Chandler's major works and with Farewell My Lovely (1940) and The Long Goodbye (1954) Chandler cemented his reputation as a giant of American popular culture and master of a style of detective fiction that would be widely admired and imitated. Chandler turned to screenwriting in 1943 with Double Indemnity and worked closely with director Billy Wilder. He continued to write for Hollywood for the next four years, during the heyday of the Hollywood studio system, receiving an Oscar nomination for The Blue Dahlia (1946). In 1946 Chandler received an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for screenplay and in 1954 for novel writing. During the last year of his life he was made President of the Mystery Writers of America. He died from pneumonia in 1959.

Raymond Chandler was born in Chicago in 1888 but moved to England with his mother when he was twelve after his parents' divorce. He was educated at Dulwich College, London and studied international law in France and Germany. He published a number of poems and essays in local papers and worked as a reporter, essayist and book reviewer before emigrating to the United States in 1912. After serving for the Canadian Army during the First World War he tried a variety of jobs before becoming a bookkeeper and auditor for Dabney Oil Syndicate. In 1924 he married Cissy Pascal. When Chandler lost his job during the Great Depression, he decided to devote himself to writing. He began writing short stories for Black Mask Magazine, the best known of the 'hard-boiled' school of pulp fiction magazines. In 1939 he published his first novel The Big Sleep to instant acclaim in Britain and the US, introducing the world to his iconic private eye, Philip Marlowe. Marlowe went on to star in almost all of Raymond Chandler's major works and with Farewell My Lovely (1940) and The Long Goodbye (1954) Chandler cemented his reputation as a giant of American popular culture and master of a style of detective fiction that would be widely admired and imitated. Chandler turned to screenwriting in 1943 with Double Indemnity and worked closely with director Billy Wilder. He continued to write for Hollywood for the next four years, during the heyday of the Hollywood studio system, receiving an Oscar nomination for The Blue Dahlia (1946). In 1946 Chandler received an Edgar Award from the Mystery Writers of America for screenplay and in 1954 for novel writing. During the last year of his life he was made President of the Mystery Writers of America. He died from pneumonia in 1959.

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