English Book Club: ‘The long good-bye’ by Raymond Chandler

imgThe long goodbye is a novel by Raymond Chandler, published in 1953, his sixth novel featuring the private investigator Philip Marlowe. Some critics consider it inferior to The big sleep or Farewell, my lovely, but others rank it as the best of his work. Chandler, in a letter to a friend, called the novel “my best book”

Down-and-out drunk Terry Lennox has a problem: his millionaire wife is dead and he needs to get out of LA fast. So he turns to the only friend he can trust: private investigator Philip Marlowe. Marlowe is willing to help a man down on his luck, but later Lennox commits suicide in Mexico and things start to turn nasty. Marlowe is drawn into a sordid crowd of adulterers and alcoholics in LA’s Idle Valley, where the rich are suffering one big suntanned hangover. Marlowe is sure Lennox didn’t kill his wife, but how many stiffs will turn up before he gets to the truth?

This novel was dramatised for television in 1954 for the anthology series Climax!, with Dick Powell playing Marlowe, as he had a decade earlier in the film Murder, my sweet. This live telecast is memorable for an incident in which the actor Tris Coffin, whose character had just died, thinking he was out of camera range, stood up and walked away while in view of the TV audience.

In 1973, Robert Altman filmed an adaptation set in contemporary Los Angeles, with Elliott Gould as Marlowe.

raymond-chandler_43ee3d22_220x290Raymond Chandler was born on July 23, 1888, in Chicago, Illinois. Upon his parents’ divorce, he relocated with his mother to South London, England. He returned to the United States in 1912, settling in Southern California.

After serving in the first World War, Chandler took on a bookkeeping job with an oil company, working his way up to a top position but lost his job in the early 1930s, and hence returned to his earlier love of writing, crafting stories that would find a home in pulp fiction magazines.

In 1939, he debuted his popular first novel The big sleep. His books featured the detective Philip Marlowe, who became an iconic figure of the fictional private investigator genre, with Chandler becoming renowned for his distinctive language, ideas and vision of Los Angeles. He is considered to be a founder of the hard-boiled school of detective fiction.

With his wife’s death in 1954, Chandler became deeply depressed. Chandler suffered from a variety of health issues and his physical decline was exacerbated by alcohol abuse. He died from bronchial pneumonia on March 26, 1959 in La Jolla, California.

The English Book Club will meet again to coment this book on saturday October 20th.

Here you can see the movie trailer of the Robert Altman’s movie.

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