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Raymond Chandler's arresting new formula for crime fiction

In The Big Sleep, published 75 years ago this week, the reading public met a very different kind of detective for the first time

Seventy-five years ago this week a revolution in crime-writing began when Knopf published The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler's first novel. Reviews in 1939 were wary and unenthusiastic, however, and only gradually was it recognised that Chandler had pulled off a bold fusion of highbrow and lowbrow – much-applauded by authors such as Wh Auden, Graham Greene and Evelyn Waugh, but also much-imitated by fellow chroniclers of murder.

What was so new? Almost everything in the first chapter, which introduces Philip Marlowe as he visits the Sternwood family mansion. Marlowe speaks to us. Whereas Holmes, Poirot, Maigret, Sam Spade are observed externally, Marlowe is the detective as autobiographer, starting three consecutive sentences in the first paragraph with "I" (ending with "I was calling on four million dollars").

He is a private detective,

See full article on The Guardian - Film News