Something Old, Something New discussion

The Big Sleep (Philip Marlowe #1)
This topic is about The Big Sleep
14 views
Archived Reads - 2014 > May 2014-The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

Comments Showing 1-13 of 13 (13 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Kate S (last edited May 01, 2014 06:05PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kate S Here is where we will discuss the classic noir tale of The Big Sleep. Please be aware there may be spoilers in this thread!

Let's get ready for our first taste of Philip Marlowe and what he has to offer...

Some background about the author and the novel from Wikipedia.

Optional Discussion Questions

1. How does Chandler create a dark tone?

2. Is this novel a social critique? Political? Moral?

3. Consider the role of women in the novel. Do women have any power? What type? How does Chandler view women? How about Marlowe?

4. How are the issues of homosexuality and male fraternity important to the story?

5. What does this novel say about the United States of America during the 1930s?


Katy Mann | 41 comments Kate S wrote: "Here is where we will discuss the classic noir tale of The Big Sleep. Please be aware there may be spoilers in this thread!

Let's get ready for our first taste of Philip Marlowe and w..."


Just getting started. I'm a huge Humphrey Bogart fan, so it should be fun to read the novel. I'm not very far into the novel yet, but some of the lines from it made it into the movie.


Kate S I enjoyed the "ambiance" of this book. The whole book felt like a smoke-filled room. It's been awhile since I read it, but I remember the impressions.

I have not yet seen this movie (at least not in adulthood), but may make an effort to see it soon.


Katy Mann | 41 comments Kate S wrote: "I enjoyed the "ambiance" of this book. The whole book felt like a smoke-filled room. It's been awhile since I read it, but I remember the impressions.

I have not yet seen this movie (at least no..."


Seeing the movie as an adult would be a good idea. Classic film noir grows on you. I find there were things I missed even as a teenager that I'm seeing as a "grown-up" (assuming that I've earned that distinction)


message 5: by Michelle, Too many books, too little time! (new) - rated it 4 stars

Michelle (shelld79) | 754 comments Mod
I started reading this last night as I decided to have a little break from The Companions.
I have to say I'm really surprised as to how good this book is so far. It's surprising me because it doesn't feel like it was written in the late 30's to me.
I'm really keen to see how it all plays out now and may have to look into watching the movie as well once I finish.


Elaine | 140 comments I read this back in 2005, way before GR and whilst I don't really remember a lot of the details, other than the overall story, I do recall quite enjoying it.


Katy Mann | 41 comments Michelle wrote: "I started reading this last night as I decided to have a little break from The Companions.
I have to say I'm really surprised as to how good this book is so far. It's surprising me because it does..."


From what I've read so far, the movie is very faithful to the book. And they both captured an era. Plus the movie has Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.


message 8: by Michelle, Too many books, too little time! (new) - rated it 4 stars

Michelle (shelld79) | 754 comments Mod
Katy wrote: "Michelle wrote: "I started reading this last night as I decided to have a little break from The Companions.
I have to say I'm really surprised as to how good this book is so far. It's surprising m..."


I noticed that there were two movies made from it. The Humphrey Bogart one and then one in the late 70's as well. I wonder how they both stack up against each other?
I love Humphrey Bogart as my mother used to watch a lot of those old movies all the time when I was little so I got a bit of a soft spot for them. I'm actually quite surprised I don't remember her watching this one.


message 9: by Michelle, Too many books, too little time! (new) - rated it 4 stars

Michelle (shelld79) | 754 comments Mod
I'm a bit over a third into this now and can't believe I put off reading it for so long. I'm thoroughly enjoying the way it is written as it's so easy and fast to read and Marlowe seems to be a very interesting and charismatic character.


message 10: by Michelle, Too many books, too little time! (new) - rated it 4 stars

Michelle (shelld79) | 754 comments Mod
So I finally finished this last night and found it a really easy and enjoyable read.

Here are my answers to the discussion questions:

1. How does Chandler create a dark tone?
In my opinion it is through the way all of the characters seem to be unhappy with their life in general in some way. There wasn't really any lightheartedness or true happiness portrayed by a single character through the entire book. It was all very depressing really.

2. Is this novel a social critique? Political? Moral?
Definitely a moral critique. It showed all too well that money doesn't buy happiness and just seems to complicate life instead. Also, it shows how stupid decisions can come back and bite you later on and that you can't really trust anyone.

3. Consider the role of women in the novel. Do women have any power? What type? How does Chandler view women? How about Marlowe?
Chandler seems to portray women with having a sexual power and not much else. All of the women seemed to be very weak in character but strong to play the defenceless and flirty angle all of the time.
Marlowe seems to appreciate women for what they are actually capable of a bit more.

4. How are the issues of homosexuality and male fraternity important to the story?
I didn't really feel this was a strong aspect to the story at all (especially with what is around these days) but I'm assuming it was definitely a contraversial issue when it was written.

5. What does this novel say about the United States of America during the 1930s?
To me it portrayed life to be quite bleak. I didn't really get much of an opinion on much else regarding the United States from reading it. Maybe I missed something?


message 11: by Cody (new)

Cody Endres I'm just about to begin the book so I can't add much to the conversation yet, but I just wanted to let everyone know that The Big Sleep film is airing on TCM Tuesday morning. I'm going to DVR it so I can watch it when I finish reading.


message 12: by Cody (last edited May 22, 2014 10:13PM) (new)

Cody Endres I just finished the book this evening. The book and Chandler's straight-forward writing hold up amazingly well over time. I finished it in only three sittings!

I'd have to agree with Michelle that the novel is mainly a moral critique. Marlowe is no saint, but he sure seems like one compared to the women of The Big Sleep. Aside from Agnes, every woman attempted to sleep with him or, at the least, shared a kiss. Even the silver-wig girl, which was a rather awkward moment that I'm not too sure I fully understood.

The novel certainly made the United States (Los Angeles specifically) look hopeless. Prohibition was in effect even though most of the characters seemed to enjoy a good drink, criminals were making money hand over fist, and happiness was a rare commodity. I would even go so far as to say that the character most at peace is Mr. Sternwood on his deathbed.


message 13: by Katy (new) - rated it 3 stars

Katy Mann | 41 comments Cody wrote: "I just finished the book this evening. The book and Chandler's straight-forward writing hold up amazingly well over time. I finished it in only three sittings!

I'd have to agree with Michelle th..."


I agree with Cody. The book is more of a moral critique.

Most of the characters seem to be grifters or have something they were trying to hide or pull over on someone. The women were using sex to get by. About the only character I saw not trying to do something was the woman in the legitimate bookstore, and who knows what she was doing with the legal books.

Bleak, but that's what noir was all about.


back to top