3 x Phil Marlowe

Chandler s

Raymond Chandler, Třikrát Phil Marlowe, Praha: Odeon, 1967 (Translated by František Jungwirth, Heda Kovályová and Josef Schwarz).

Judging the book by the state of its cover, this copy of a Czech translation of Chandler has definitely found a readership, in over four decades since it was published. The book consists of three Chandler’s masterpieces  : The Big Sleep ; Farewell, My Lovely and The Long Good-Bye (Hluboký spánek –; Sbohem buď, lásko má –; Loučení s Lennoxem) ; It contains an afterword  by Josef Škvorecký.  (With thanks to Marcela Bucova)

Abstract

Soubor tří detektivních románů, spojený společným detektivem Marlowem. Autor tvořil tohoto detektiva s přesvědčením, “že těmito hanebnými ulicemi musí kráčet muž, který sám není hanebný, který nemá ani špinavé ruce, ani strach … není to ani eunuch, ani satyr … od nikoho nepřijme nepoctivé peníze a od nikoho si nedá líbit drzost”, protože “kdyby bylo dost takových lidí, žilo by se … na světě bezpečně”. Detektivky, které kromě požadovaného napínavého a spádného děje mají uznávané hodnoty literární a zejména neodolatelný slovní humor.

Which translates roughly (and with renewed thanks to Marcela Bucova) as:

“This book comprises three detective novels, united by a common detective, Marlowe. The author of this detective expressed the belief that  “down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid… he is neither a eunuch nor a satyr…He will take no man’s  money dishonestly and no man’s insolence without a due and dispassionate revenge. If there were enough like him, the world would be a very safe place to live in”. The Detective novel, in addition to the required suspense and plotting  has recognized the value of literary writing and especially  of an irresistible verbal humor”

It is interesting to compare this condensed version with the original text by Chandler  (The Simple Art of Murder). And to ponder on the nature  and moral, aesthetic, ideological or otherwise  significance to be found in  the elements which were retained,  and in those which were left out.

Here is the original text by Chandler :

“Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid… He is the hero; he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common
man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor — by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it,  and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world  and a good enough man for any world. I do not care much about his private  life; he is neither a eunuch nor a satyr; I think he might seduce a duchess
and I am quite sure he would not spoil a virgin; if he is a man of honor  in one thing, he is that in all things.

He is a relatively poor man, or he would not be a detective at all. He is a common man or he could not go among common people. He has a sense of character, or he would not know his job. He will take no man’s  money dishonestly and no man’s insolence without a due and dispassionate  revenge. He is a lonely man and his pride is that you will treat him as
a proud man or be very sorry you ever saw him. He talks as the man of his age  talks — that is, with rude wit, a lively sense of the grotesque, a disgust for sham, and a contempt for pettiness.

The story is this man’s adventure in search of a hidden truth, and it would be no adventure if it did not happen to a man fit for adventure.  He has a range of awareness that startles you, but it belongs to him by right,  because it belongs to the world he live in. If there were enough like him, the world would be a very safe place to live in, without becoming too dull to be worth living in”.

This edition was printed at 120 000 copies (the mention “120000 výt” features in the Library record)

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