“A MASTERPIECE RIGHT OUT OF THE GATE”: FIRST EDITION OF CHANDLER’S THE BIG SLEEP
CHANDLER, Raymond. The Big Sleep. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1939. Octavo, original orange cloth, original dust jacket.
First edition of Chandler’s first and most famous novel, with rarely found original dust jacket.
The Big Sleep, Raymond Chandler’s first novel, “was a masterpiece right out of the gate and introduced a new kind of detective story, build on the hard-boiled foundation laid by Dashiell Hammett” (Johnson I:44). The novel was published when Chandler was 51, after years of apprenticeship in pulp magazines. “It’s my ambition,” he once said, “to write a mystery story without one word of explanation at the end. In The Big Sleep I almost succeeded.” This was the novel that announced Chandler’s literary coming-of-age and defined the mythic status of his wise-cracking detective Philip Marlowe. “Chandler is fun to read,” commented writer George Higgins. “He was also one hell of a writer, and those are hard to find” (Hardboiled Mystery Writers, 81-3). A Haycraft Queen cornerstone novel. William Faulkner co-authored the screenplay adaptation of The Big Sleep for Howard Hawks’ 1946 film starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. “First Edition” stated on copyright page; price of “$2.00 net” to dust jacket front flap. Bruccoli A1.1.a. Hubin II:152.
Book fine; ink notation to front panel, slight chipping to spine ends, minor toning to spine of scarce unrestored near-fine dust jacket.