Saturday, August 29, 2015

A Literary Reference : The Big Sleep

I went over to a floor lamp and pulled the switch, went back to put off the ceiling light, and went across the room again to the chessboard on a card table under the lamp. There was a problem laid out on the board, a six-mover. I couldn’t solve it, like a lot of my problems. I reached down and moved a knight, then pulled my hat and coat off and threw them somewhere. All this time the soft giggling went on from the bed, that sound that made me think of rats behind a wainscoting in an old house.

- - - - -

"Put the light out," she giggled.

I threw my cigarette on the floor and stamped on it. I took a handkerchief out and wiped the palms of my hands. I tried it once more.

"It isn’t on account of the neighbors," I told her. "They don’t really care a lot. There’s a lot of stray broads in any apartment house and one more won’t make the building rock. It’s a question of professional pride. You know—professional pride. I’m working for your father. He’s a sick man, very frail, very helpless. He sort of trusts me not to pull any stunts. Won’t you please get dressed, Carmen?"

"Your name isn’t Doghouse Reilly," she said. "It’s Philip Marlowe. You can’t fool me."

I looked down at the chessboard. The move with the knight was wrong. I put it back where I had moved it from. Knights had no meaning in this game. It wasn’t a game for knights.

Raymond Chandler, The Big Sleep, Pan, 1969, p.127, p. 128-9. (Original date of publication 1939.)

[A Literary Reference index]


Anonymous said...

Strange as it might seem, Raymond Chandler, like Raymond Keene, was educated at Dulwich College. Somehow, the latter isn't quite from the same mould as Philip Marlowe. MW

Mike G said...

In another piece Marlowe plays through a Capablanca game and makes appropriate comments about its remorseless logic (or similar). It's at the end of one of the books and he plays through the game to unwind after solving another case (I think).

ejh said...

The High Window, it seems.