Literary Birthday – 23 July – Raymond Chandler

Raymond Chandler was born 23 July 1888, and died 26 March 1959.


  1. Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.
  2. In writing a novel, when in doubt, have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand.
  3. Would you convey my compliments to the purist who reads your proofs and tell him or her that I write a sort of broken-down patois which is something like the way a Swiss waiter talks, and that when I split an infinitive, God damn it, I split it so it will stay split and when I interrupt the velvety smoothness of my more or less literate syntax with a few sudden words of bar-room vernacular, that is done with the eyes wide open and the mind relaxed and attentive. The method may not be perfect, but it is all I have.
  4. Any man who can write a page of living prose adds something to our life, and the man who can, as I can, is surely the last to resent someone who can do it even better. An artist cannot deny art, nor would he want to. A lover cannot deny love.
  5. The most durable thing in writing is style, and style is the most valuable investment a writer can make with his time.
  6. When a book, any sort of book, reaches a certain intensity of artistic performance it becomes literature. That intensity may be a matter of style, situation, character, emotional tone, or idea, or half a dozen other things. It may also be a perfection of control over the movement of a story similar to the control a great pitcher has over the ball.
  7. Everything a writer learns about the art or craft of fiction takes just a little away from his need or desire to write at all. In the end he knows all the tricks and has nothing to say.
  8. Most critical writing is drivel and half of it is dishonest. It is a short cut to oblivion, anyway. Thinking in terms of ideas destroys the power to think in terms of emotions and sensations.
  9. At least half the mystery novels published violate the law that the solution, once revealed, must seem to be inevitable.
  10. The perfect detective story cannot be written. The type of mind which can evolve the perfect problem is not the type of mind that can produce the artistic job of writing.

Must-read: Raymond Chandler’s Response To An Overzealous Editor and Raymond Chandler Remembers His Wife

Raymond Chandler was an American novelist and screenwriter. He is considered to be a founder of the hard-boiled school of detective fiction. His novels include The Big SleepFarewell, My Lovely, and The Long Goodbye.

by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 23rd July 2013