The Long Embrace

The Long Embrace

Raymond Chandler and the Woman He Loved

Book - 2007
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Raymond Chandlerwas one of the most original and enduring crime novelists of the twentieth century. Yet much of his pre-writing life, including his unconventional marriage, has remained shrouded in mystery. In this compelling, wholly original book, Judith Freeman sets out to solve the puzzle of who Chandler was and how he became the writer who would create in Philip Marlowe an icon of American culture. Freeman uncovers vestiges of the Los Angeles that was terrain and inspiration for Chandler's imagination, including the nearly two dozen apartments and houses the Chandlers moved into and out of over the course of two decades. She also uncovers the life of Cissy Pascal, the older, twice-divorced woman Chandler married in 1924, who would play an essential role in how he came to understand not only his female characters--and Marlowe's relation to them--but himself as well. A revelation of a marriage that was a wellspring of need, illusion, and creativity,The Long Embraceprovides us with a more complete picture of Raymond Chandler's life and art than any we have had before. From the Hardcover edition.
Publisher: New York, NY : Pantheon Books, [2007]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2007
ISBN: 9780375423512
Branch Call Number: 813 CHAND FRE
Characteristics: 353 pages : illustrations, map ; 25 cm


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Nov 26, 2017

There are better biographies of Raymond Chandler, if you are looking for a straight biography. But The Long Embrace is good reading for Chandler aficionados. The author, Judith Freeman, is attached to Raymond Chandler and his much older wife, Cissy. I won't comment on the attachment beyond saying that few readers are so attached to the authors they read.
Freeman attempts to fathom Ray's relationship with Cissy, a sophisticated and fetching older woman who always kept her true age a secret from Ray. Freeman's interest borders on, but does not reach the point of prurience. Much of the book attempts to tease out where and how much Cissy influenced Chandler's writing. Not surprisingly, the erotic aspects of Chandler's stories take a large part and Freeman delves into Chandler's infidelities as well as his devotion to his wife.
Freeman did her research, visiting the Chandler archives in Los Angeles and Oxford and exploring the many addresses in Southern California where the Chandlers lived. However, the book is more about impressions and inferences rather than facts.
After reading The Long Embrace, my appreciation for Chandlers works has increased and I see aspects of his books that I would not notice without Freeman's insight, but I could easily argue that Freeman overstretched the scanty facts.

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