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Glossary and Character Taxonomy  Breakdown by Country of Origin   Bibliography   Table of Contents    The Best of the Encyclopedia

Marlowe, Philip. Philip Marlowe was created by Raymond Chandler (Carmady, John Dalmas) and appeared in eight novels and collections and three movies from 1939 to 1958, beginning with The Big Sleep.

Philip Marlowe is, with Sam Spade, one of the two most significant detective characters in hard-boiled detective fiction. Marlowe essentially created the archetype of the Bellem, the wise-cracking, cynical, two-fisted hard-boiled detective. Marlowe is college educated and smart, but he is not an intellectual. He is tough but not brutal, a good investigator but not a refined egghead, and romantic without being soppy. He runs his own detective agency, having been thrown out of the L.A.P.D. because of his refusal to follow orders. He is fond of chess.

* I'm including the Philip Marlowe stories and novels in the Best of the Encyclopedia category because Marlowe is archetypal, the stories and novels are historically important, and the stories and novels are great piles of fun to read. As mentioned, Marlowe essentially created the Bellem character type that came to (and still does) dominate hardboiled detective and mystery fiction. In hardboiled fiction, the predecessors to Marlowe were Carroll John Daly's Race Williams (first of the form) and Dashiell Hammett's Sam Spade. But Race Williams and Sam Spade were classical music, verging on dull--Haydn or Mahler, perhaps. Philip Marlowe was jazz, and lively jazz at that. Chandler's prose was diamond-sharp, witty, and full of memorable phrases, images, similes and metaphors. Nothing like it had appeared in detective fiction before, and it quickly became ubiquitous, so powerfully alluring was it to read and write--though few did it as well as Chandler. The Philip Marlowe stories are tremendously enjoyable, classics of detective fiction that age not nor have their strength withered. Highly recommended. 

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