Raymond Chandler’s Response To An Overzealous Editor

Writers Write is a resource for writers. We’ve put together a post on Raymond Chandler’s response to an overzealous editor.

Raymond Chandler was an American novelist and screenwriter. He was born 23 July 1888, and died 26 March 1959.

He is considered to be a founder of the hard-boiled school of detective fiction.

In January 1947, novelist Raymond Chandler wrote a letter to the editor of The Atlantic Monthly, Edward Weeks, asking him to pass on a message to the publication’s proofreader—which has since become the one of Chandler’s most famous quotes.’

“…when I split an infinitive, God damn it, I split it so it will stay split.”

6005 Camino de la Costa La,
Jolla, California
Jan. 18th, 1947

Dear Mr. Weeks:

I’m afraid you’ve thrown me for a loss. I thought “Juju Worship in Hollywood” was a perfectly good title. I don’t see why it has to be linked up with crime and mystery. But you’re the Boss. When I wrote about writers this did not occur to you. I’ve thought of various titles such asBank Night in HollywoodSutter’s Last StandThe Golden Peepshow,All it Needs is ElephantsThe Hot Shop HandicapWhere Vaudeville Went it Died, and rot like that. But nothing that smacks you in the kisser. By the way, would you convey my compliments to the purist who reads your proofs and tell him or her that I write in 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 barroom vernacular, this is done with the eyes wide open and the mind relaxed but attentive. The method may not be perfect, but it is all I have. I think your proofreader is kindly attempting to steady me on my feet, but much as I appreciate the solicitude, I am really able to steer a fairly clear course, provided I get both sidewalks and the street between.

If I think of anything, I’ll wire you.

Kindest Regards,

Source: Letters Of Note

If you enjoyed this post, read these:

  1. Between Friends: Writing Advice From Hemingway To Fitzgerald
  2. 7 Bits Of Writing Advice From Cormac McCarthy
  3. Lisa Jewell’s 12 Writing Tips
  4. 5 Bits Of Writing Advice From Iris Murdoch
  5. 6 Writing Lessons From Bill Watterson
  6. 7 Writing Observations From Ian McEwan
  7. Lauren Beukes’s Top 5 Writing Tips
  8. Kate DiCamillo’s 6 Writing Tips
  9. Louis Sachar On Writing
  10. Writing Advice From The World’s Most Famous Authors
Posted on: 29th April 2012