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Farewell, My Lovely

Page history last edited by Jon 13 years, 3 months ago

Chandler, Raymond - Farewell, My Lovely (1940)


Farewell is based on three previous short stories, which Chandler combined, expanded and rewrote. "Rewrote" is the key word here. Chandler's skills as a stylist are at their height in this novel, especially its opening sections. The work is full of descriptive passages about LA and Santa Monica (Bay City in the novel). Many of these are so beautifully written they seem like prose poems. Chandler's dialogue and general mise-en-scène in the creation of atmosphere and emotional nuances of character and interaction is also at its height here.


Farewell seems like "a week in the life" of a detective. Marlowe gets put through every possible scene, from the genteel to the adventurous, from the intellectual to the physical. Much of Farewell's claim to be a novel, considered as a unified work of art, comes from this very rounded portrait of a detective and his work.


The best parts of the book are the early sections. On the negative side, the scene in the sinister clinic is much too hair raising for comfort, and throws a negative pall over the reading experience of the book. Much of this and subsequent sections simply wallow in gloom. And like most of Chandler's fiction, the lack of strong overall plot weakens the effect, especially in the later chapters.


Mike Grost


Chandler’s second novel, and altogether tighter and more focused than The Big Sleep.  Very cynical—the police are corrupt, the women are bad, the rich and powerful are in control, and the little man doesn’t have a chance.  At times, the misanthropy, pessimism and despair, the lyricism of the descriptions, and the magical realism of some scenes (notably the scene in the clinic), recall Céline (whom I hate).  I don’t like Chandler—too negative and humourless, and he never leaves me feeling like reading another one soon.

Marlowe’s search for Velma—Grayle quest?  (Mallory.)


Nick Fuller.


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