Rare Raymond Chandler essay includes writing, office tips

NEW YORK – Philip Marlowe, the most self-reliant of fictional detectives, experienced no manager and no a single to boss about. His creator, Raymond Chandler, wanted some assistance.

“Advice to a Secretary,” a almost never observed essay published this 7 days in the spring difficulty of the literary quarterly The Strand Journal, is a wry established of guidance for his assistant in the 1950s, Juanita Messick. For Chandler, who had small family members outside of his wife and handful of near mates, function was personalized. His tone with Messick assorted from indulgent employer to hapless spouse.

“Assert your individual legal rights at all instances. You are a human currently being. You will not always come to feel nicely. You will be exhausted and want to lie down. Say so. Do it. You will get anxious you will want to go out for a though. Say so, and do it. If you get to perform late, do not apologize. Just give a easy rationalization of why, even if it is a foolish rationalization. You might have had a flat tire. You may possibly have overslept. You may possibly have been drunk. We are equally just folks.”


More of Chandler’s observations:

“I am only exacting in the perception that I want things appropriate. I am not exacting in the perception that I anticipate human beings to subordinate their have lives to my whims. If you need to ever truly feel that I am acting that way, for God’s sake convey to me so.”

“I must have get and group from you, due to the fact I deficiency it myself.”

The essay was found out, like a missing clue, in a shoebox at the University of Oxford’s Bodleian library. Strand handling editor Andrew Gulli, who has printed obscure operates by Chandler (“Notes To An Employer”), William Faulkner, John Steinbeck and lots of other individuals, was anxious to demonstrate Chandler in a extra individual and light-weight-hearted way.

“The motive for publishing this function is that generally writers who have composed works that have really darkish themes are among the most helpful and benign people close to,” he explained. “This get the job done reveals a softer facet to an writer who has been connected with a bleak worldview.”


Chandler was open minded sufficient when it arrived to Messick’s whereabouts but specific about her stenography. He when despatched her a brief memo focused solely to the misuse of present participles. In “Advice To a Secretary,” he details out that Messick transcribed a word improperly, “accept” in its place of “except.”

“If you do not completely understand a sentence, or a word, or a punctuation mark, say so and desire an explanation,” Chandler tells her. “If the explanation you get does not explain factors for you, need yet another explanation. Do not be pleased with just about anything much less than you want. It is by no means stupid to ask concerns. It is only stupid to guess at the solutions and get a probability on getting incorrect.”

Chandler scholar Dr. Sarah Trott notes that Chandler’s decision not to give Marlowe a secretary is in contrast to this kind of sleuths as Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade and Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer. Although Chandler had a heat, playful aspect and the two the writer and his spouse, Cissy, grew to become near to Messick, Chandler avoided these kinds of intimacy in “The Extensive Goodbye,” “The Huge Sleep” and other Marlowe novels.


“He was an introverted character,” Trott advised the AP in a modern email, recalling how the director Billy Wilder regarded him as “kind of acid, sour, grouchy.”

“The isolated life-style that Marlowe life is, I envision, the kind of way of life Chandler coveted,” Trott wrote.



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