Raymond Chandler is considered to be an enormous and exceptional American writer. “The Long Goodbye” is his most excellent work (Lundberg, David 2005). He is most brilliant in his magnificent use of creative metaphor. Just singular! This book hooks people within the first few pages, and then takes you on a winding, scheming path throughout a mysterious episode in private eye Phillip Marlowe’s life. Just when you suppose the story is ending, and you have figured it out, the author takes one more twist, and off you go again, on the way to another dramatic, fascinating turn of the story.
This is a novel regarding a lonely, to some extent-limited man, who is nevertheless ultimately heroic and noble. Marlowe happens to get pleasure from a good whiskey at eleven in the morning, have a bad temper, and nurse a soft spot for charming drunks and wonderful blondes. Well, who does not? Even though Marlowe is of course a P.I. and that provokes several interests by other characters, he is not working on a case. The Long Goodbye is centered on his well-known detective Philip Marlowe. Feelings on it are diverse. While few consider it not on the rank of The Big Sleep or Farewell, My Lovely, others rank it as the best of his work. It is remarkable for using hard-boiled detective fiction as a vehicle for social criticism. It is also recognized for having autobiographical elements that relate to Chandler’s life.
The Long Goodbye, the last of the Marlowe series to be available in his lifetime and hence already colored by nostalgic regret, is a courageous but overheated effort by Chandler to recover the persona he and Dashiell Hammett invented, a persona coarsened and vulgarized in Mickey Spillane’s zillion-selling Mike Hammer series a main affront to Chandler, who thought of himself as a culturally distinguished gentleman. Marlowe’s swan song is, unluckily, tired and slack, particularly the first third; its failure to match the verve and thoughts of his earlier work is encapsulated by an overripe simile such as “I belonged in Idle Valley like a pearl onion on a banana split”-a weak reheating of Farewell, My Lovely’s classic fish-out-of-water metaphor. A milestone in the genre, this novel established for the first time that hard-boiled fiction could provide as a vehicle for social comment and critique.
Though the apparent plot is slower paced and less metaphoric than Chandler’s past novels, the revealed plot demonstrates him using his own life as a material, an autobiographical turn that prepared the means for Ross Macdonald. The Long Goodbye is an enormous work of literature. With it, Chandler rises above the trademark poetic metaphor and accomplishes his deeper promise. Friendship is not for all time friendly. Honor costs and cuts. The Long Goodbye and its heroic anti-hero Philip Marlowe go beyond categories. Chandler wrote The Long Goodbye when he was at the peak of his powers. He was in his 60s, wealthy from Hollywood and paperback sales (Chi, Tai 2005). He did not have to crank out a book. One of Chandler’s letters is occasionally quoted, in which he says that he was not a fine enough writer to write the stories behind Marlowe’s cases. In The Long Goodbye, he does it.
The plot of the book apparently the longest detective novel ever written up to that point deals with Marlowe’s connection in two apparently unrelated missing person cases. Roger Wade, a dirty-book writer and raging alcoholic, and Terry Lennox, a friend of Marlowe’s who dupes the shamus into helping his journey across the border, away from a gruesome murder scene at home. Terry Lennox started out as a mystery. Marlowe solves puzzles. It is what he does for a living, perhaps even a compulsion. Over the next several weeks, more pieces appeared in the puzzle, and then disappeared. The next to emerge was his on-and-off wife, but then she was taken out of the scene, brutally murdered. Afterward the first piece, Terry disappeared into Mexico, then into a police report labeled suicide. Police appeared and disappeared, the wife’s wealthy father come and goes for a moment then gone again, a writer and his wife well, lots more, too.
The narrative’s usually Byzantine machinations are worked out in often ingenious ways. However what truly animates Chandler’s interest is the detective’s sheer weariness and dislike with modern times. There is hence much ruminating on the misery of the world, the unproductiveness of action, and the depravity of modern culture and society. Marlowe is given room for cranky disquisitions on, in uneven chronological order: the legal system, the movies, businessmen, the print media, doctors and lawyers, the advertising agencies, “wetbacks,” television, the Los Angeles smog, the family, and the suburbs. This is noir at its finest. It is dirty, it is violent, and its morality has a very odd look to it. It also provides a window into the post-WWII era, when all the old rules were being broken, and the new ones were not too definite. Philip Marlowe is actually an American classic.
But the deadliest venom is reserved for women generally. The book’s most lethal killer is as all the time in Chandler a woman, Eileen Wade, considered a viperous femme fatale who bludgeons Terry Lennox’s wife, afterward shoots her husband Roger and makes his death materialize as a suicide. Marlowe survives his meeting with Eileen, but his disloyalty at the hands of Terry Lennox who surprisingly turns up alive at book’s end, not guilty of yet complicit in the book’s major crimes alters him in a delicate but intense way. Played for a sucker, Marlowe, nursing wounded feelings nonetheless permits Terry to return to his new life in Mexico.
More fascinating still is the approach Chandler used the novel, which he wrote as his wife lay dying, to evaluate and comment on his own life. Similar to Terry Lennox, Chandler was a soldier scarred by World War I, whose young days at Dabney Oil were full of big cars and illegal affairs. Like Roger Wade, he had turn out to be a middle-aged, self-hating, alcoholic, childless, celebrity writer. Similar to Philip Marlowe, Chandler clung in principles to early ideals, fidelity, belief in character, and value for creation. The novel detests the very self-pity that impels it. Can Chandler combine the parts of his life? Marlowe’s last words to Lennox are “So long, Senor Maioranos. Nice to have known you – however briefly” (311). The final answer is turned out to be No. It is no accident that Terry Lennox and Roger Wade by no means appear together, but rather a psychological impossibility. So as to a woman undoes both is Chandler’s old saw, but secondary here. “Your husband is a guy who can take a long hard look at himself and see what is there,” says Marlowe to Eileen. “Most people go through life using up half their energy trying to protect a dignity they never had” (153).
The description sense of Chandler is in which 300 pages of macho posturing climax with a moaning and licking of wounds. And thematically it’s deeper. Chandler’s phony concept of betrayed brotherhood, his grief of a ruined male camaraderie done in by a domesticated, feminized, consumerist world is illustrated. The Long Goodbye is a novel with plenty of meat on its bones (Marling, William (2001). The plot is engaging and compound, the characters are all exceptionally colorful, the dialogue is excellent and the descriptive passages are in a league of their own. Chandler also presents the people with an abundance of social commentary while discovering a number of significant themes. The novel demonstrates technical perfection is well written with intense description and believable dialogue. The plot is fascinating and amusing, but at times seems a bit implausible. Marlowe’s chase of truth leads him to bogus psychics and a bogus psychiatric ward, to cops who are at most awful scandalous and at best stupid, to the token con artists.
At the center are the staples of detective fiction the deadly attractive women. The novel’s two opening plot lines converge into a chaos of deceitfulness, and Marlowe finds himself in bizarre situations with bizarre ways out, and although it requires at least a little bit of a creative stretch to continue on the journey unblinkingly, the mishaps are nonetheless entertaining. The novel is well written and amusing and this makes up for the implausibility some times over. Even better than the impeccable approach and captivating prose is the overreaching theme, created well enough even to stay coherent regardless of the whirlwind of events and characters. Corruption and deception are at the heart of the novel, and it is up to the honorable Philip Marlowe to find the truth as he travels the rough side of Los Angeles. Nothing is what it appears, including the unforgettable character, Moose Malloy, a tremendously complex character like the mainstream of the novel’s dramatis personae.
As a societal statement, Chandler’s novel deals with gender matters and the nature of success. 1930s America has its own economic legend and considered as a land of opportunity. In this novel, the cost of triumph for a woman is high, and in this novel, the sacrifice costs everyone. Significant to think regarding what it is Chandler bids “farewell”- worth reading for the punch line; taken with the entire novel, the last sentence actually sends it home.
Seemingly a detective story, this novel is one of the huge achievements of twentieth-century literature. In the first three pages alone, Chandler wonderful encapsulates the apathy of modernity, and the prize and rewards offered the lone man who resists the shiftless world of phrases like “who cares?” The mystery itself is not as fascinating as Chandler’s previous work, but the deepness of characterization, passion, and what can only be illustrated as epic humanization carry it far further than the caliber of his prior books. Written in perfectly penetrating and perceptive prose, this novel has more philosophical weight than volumes of French existentialism. This is a magnificent book, filled of insight and bursting with humanity. It is an excellent showcase for Raymond Chandler at the pinnacle of his literary powers. Definitely The Long Goodbye is one of the top ten mysteries written, perhaps even the top three. It has that marvelous yet subtle concept of pathos, the purity of truth, loyalty, perhaps exceptionally American relentlessness, and a gritty, scarred, and hero.
Chandler, Raymond. The Long Goodbye (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard), Vintage; Reissue edition (August 12, 1988), ISBN: 0394757688.
Chi, Tai. “Lyrical Insight”, (Riverside, California United States), April 4, 2005.
Lundberg, David. “Part of an American literary education!” (Greensboro, NC USA) November 12, 2005
Marling, William. “Hard-Boiled Fiction”. Case Western Reserve University. Updated 2 August 2001.