Raymond Thornton Chandler (1888-1959) achieved lasting fame as an author of detective novels & short stories. All but one of his seven novels have been adapted as Hollywood films, some multiple times, & his highly cinematic novels as well asMoreRaymond Thornton Chandler (1888-1959) achieved lasting fame as an author of detective novels & short stories.
All but one of his seven novels have been adapted as Hollywood films, some multiple times, & his highly cinematic novels as well as his screenplays are credited with being central to the emergence & development of film noir.What is not well-known about Chandler, even among noir buffs, is that he enlisted with the Canadian Army during World War I & was seriously concussed by German shelling.
None of his books — works otherwise dense with autobiographical references — gives any overt indication of his time as an infantryman in the Canadian Army. Beyond one short unpublished piece describing a bombardment that killed everyone else in his unit & knocked him unconscious, Chandler’s writing never directly touched the subject of his own military combat- he said that the horrific fighting he lived through was a nightmare he preferred to forget.Nonetheless, it would echo in his fiction for the next three decades, and it first surfaced in the detective stories Chandler wrote for pulp magazines in the 1930s.
It continued to echo in his hard-boiled detective novels featuring Philip Marlowe, as well as the Hollywood screenplays he wrote, including The Blue Dahlia & Alfred Hitchcocks Strangers On A Train. Those echoes were woven into Chandler’s plots as well as his descriptions of physical details.Chandler is commonly grouped with Dashiell Hammett & James Cain as a founding trio of the “hard-boiled” school of detective fiction, & his body of work had an immense stylistic influence on American popular literature.
Chandlers fiction defined a literary genre, & like Byron, Orwell and Kafka, his name has become a common adjective: “Chandleresque” describes not just a style of writing, but a mind-set and worldview as well.Although it has become unfashionable to employ an author’s biography as an interpretative tool for the appreciation of literary fiction (what postmodernists dismissively term the “Biographical Fallacy”), this book nonetheless sets out to illuminate the subtle, at times barely visible ways in which Chandler’s combat memories are embedded throughout his writing.