The conflation of the hard-boiled style and war experience has influenced many contemporary crime writers, particularly in the traumatic aftermath of the Vietnam War. Yet, earlier writers in the genre, such as Raymond Chandler, remain overlooked when it comes to examining how their war experience affected their writing. Sarah Trott corrects this oversight by examining Chandler alongside the World War I writers of the Lost Generation as well as highlighting a melding of very different styles in Chandler's work.
Based on Chandler's experience in combat, Trott explains that the writer created detective Philip Marlowe not as the idealization of heroic individualism, as is commonly perceived, but instead as an authentic individual subjected to very real psychological frailties from trauma during the First World War. Inspecting Chandler's work and correspondence indicates that the characterization of the fictional Marlowe goes beyond the traditional chivalric readings and can instead be interpreted as a genuine representation of a traumatized veteran in American society. Substituting the horror of the trenches for the corruption of the city, Chandler formed a disillusioned protagonist in an uncaring America. Chandler did so with the sophistication necessary to straddle genre fiction and canonical literature.
The sum of this work offers a new understanding of how Chandler uses his war trauma, how that experience established the traditional archetype of detective fiction, and how this reading of his fiction enables Chandler to transcend generic limitations and be recognized as a key twentieth-century literary figure.
|Publisher:||University Press of Mississippi|
|Product dimensions:||6.20(w) x 16.60(h) x 0.80(d)|
About the Author
Sarah Trott, Brigend, South Wales, United Kingdom, is a lecturer in American studies at Swansea University. She has published in the edited collection Men After War and the journal Comparative American Studies.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I received a free electronic copy of this interesting look at the life and works of Raymond Chandler from Netgalley, Sarah Trott, and the University Press of Mississippi in exchange for an honest review. Thank you all, for generously sharing your work with me. As a young adult I started reading Raymond Chandler's work, partly because my father enjoyed him so much, and partly because film noir spoke to me. I don't think at that time I associated these genres together. Sarah Trott makes a compelling case for just that - and for the inclusion of Raymond Chandler into the glorified strata that is the Lost Generation of American authors. I grew up with a WWI disabled soldier in my life. My maternal grandfather fought in every major offensive after the US joined the Allies in WWI, and suffered that war's acknowledged form of PTSD, Shell shock, plus mustard gas exposure for his entire long life. He was a wonderful man when he was with us - but sometimes he was back in Europe and then he had to go away to the nearest VA hospital. And sometimes his eyes would change, and his voice would grow gruff and harsh and he would seem lost, and short with us, and then one of the children - he was always surrounded by children - would laugh at something, and he would often come back into his eyes. Just for the innocent laugh of a child. I will re-read Chandler and Hemingway and Dos Passos this winter, after the garden is in and the nights grow cold, to absorb once more all they had to offer to our understanding of the world changes brought about by World War One. And to close my eyes and see again the life return to Grandpa's eyes. Thank you, Sarah Trott, for bringing this all together, for me.