The Big Sleep

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Mathew Martinez
Engl. 1147-104
Essay 5

Artificially Realistic: The Contradictions of the Detective Genre

Raymond Chandler is a writer against the notion of the artificial detective story. He believes that the detective story should portray realism. However, the genre of realism is often seen as a boring style of writing that lacks the weight that an otherwise artificial story would sustain. Chandlers statements issued in “The Simple Art of Murder” are quite contradicting to the product that he provides for his readers in his “realistic” detective agendas. While the characters of the story The Big Sleep can be seen as very real individually, it is when Chandler brings the characters together for the purposes of the story itself that his plot becomes moderately artificial. The exaggerations presented by Chandler serve as social criticisms and the reader see’s this through the private thoughts of Marlowe about the socially abnormal characters and situations. Raymond Chandler is plagued by the notion of the fantastical against the realistic in the detective genre. Chandler is an avid critic for the fantasy and a great supporter of realism. Chandler writes that the detective stories that portray the fantastical atmosphere, “…are too contrived, and too little aware of what goes on in the world” (Chandler 527). Fantasy of the detective genre leaves the reader disillusioned, which raises a question of the plausibility of the situation, the question of whether the event or problem could ever happen or should it even take place. Chandler writes: When they did unreal things, they ceased to be real themselves. They became puppets and cardboard lovers and papier-mâché villains and detective of exquisite and impossible gentility. The only kind of writer who could be happy with these properties was the one who did know what reality was (Chandler 528).

This goes along with Chandler’s belief that the author should never belittle a reader by...
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