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 is considered to be a founder of the hard-boiled school of detective fiction. Find out more about him here
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 Hollywood, Sutter’s Last Stand, The Golden Peepshow,All it Needs is Elephants, The Hot Shop Handicap, Where 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, (Signed)
Source: Letters Of Note
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