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"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."Raymond Chandler. The Big Sleep. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1939. First edition, first printing, of the author's first book. Octavo (7.375 x 5 inches). , 277, , [2, blank] pages. Publisher's brownish orange V cloth (smooth) decoratively stamped and lettered in dark gray blue on front cover and spine. All edges trimmed. Top edge stained dark blue. Original color pictorial dust jacket by Hans J. Barschel. Spine very slightly darkened, minor rubbing to corners and spine extremities, some browning to endpapers from pastedown glue. Jacket with a short closed tear at lower corner of rear panel, reinforced with tissue on the verso, and a few additional repairs at the edges of the flap folds. The rear panel and spine of the jacket are very slightly browned. A very attractive copy.
"'Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid....He is the hero; he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man.' This is the Code of the Private Eye as defined by Raymond Chandler in his 1944 essay 'The Simple Act of Murder.' Such a man was Philip Marlowe, private eye, an educated, heroic, streetwise, rugged individualist and the hero of Chandler's first novel, The Big Sleep. This work established Chandler as the master of the 'hard-boiled' detective novel, and his articulate and literary style of writing won him a large audience, which ranged from the man in the street to the most sophisticated intellectual. Marlowe subsequently appeared in a series of extremely popular novels, among them The Lady in the Lake, The Long Goodbye, and Farewell, My Lovely" (Elizabeth Diefendorf, editor, The New York Public Library's Books of the Century, p. 112).
Selected as one of Time Magazine's All-Time 100 Novels, with the following review: "'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.' This sentence, from the first paragraph of The Big Sleep, marks the last time you can be fully confident that you know what's going on. The first novel by Raymond Chandler, who at the time was a 51-year-old former oil company executive, is a mosaic of shadows, a dark tracery of forking paths. Along them wanders Philip Marlowe, a cynical, perfectly hard-boiled private investigator hired by an old millionaire to find the husband of his beautiful, bitchy wildcat daughter. Marlowe is tough and determined, and he does his best to be a good guy, but there are no true heroes in Chandler's sun-baked, godforsaken Los Angeles, and every plot turn reveals how truly twisted the human heart is."
Bruccoli, Chandler, A1.1.a.
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