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The Detective as Veteran: The trauma of war in the work of Raymond Chandler. / Sarah Louise Trott

Swansea University Author: Sarah Louise Trott

Abstract

Raymond Chandler created his detective Philip Marlowe not as the idealisation of heroic individualism as is commonly perceived, but instead as an authentic individual subjected to very real psychological frailties resulting from his traumatic experiences during World War One. Marlowe's characte...

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Published: 2010
Institution: Swansea University
Degree level: Doctoral
Degree name: Ph.D
URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa42370
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spelling 2018-08-02T16:24:28.9945936 v2 42370 2018-08-02 The Detective as Veteran: The trauma of war in the work of Raymond Chandler. b5092f595ad29b61bce3d229ae1376fd NULL Sarah Louise Trott Sarah Louise Trott true true 2018-08-02 Raymond Chandler created his detective Philip Marlowe not as the idealisation of heroic individualism as is commonly perceived, but instead as an authentic individual subjected to very real psychological frailties resulting from his traumatic experiences during World War One. Marlowe's characterisation goes beyond the traditional chivalric readings and should instead be interpreted as an authentic representation of a traumatised veteran in American society. Substituting the horror of the trenches for the corruption of the city. Chandler's disillusioned protagonist and his representation of an uncaring American society resonate strongly with the dislocation of the Lost Generation. Consequently, it is profitable to consider Chandler not simply as a generic writer but as a genuine literary figure. This thesis re-examines important primary documents highlighting extensive discrepancies in existing biographical narratives of Chandler's war experience, and unveils an account that is significantly different from that of his biographers, revealing the trauma that troubled Chandler throughout his life. The application of psychological behavioural interpretation to interrogate Chandler's novels demonstrates the variety of post-traumatic symptoms that tormented both Chandler and his protagonist. A close reading of his personal papers reveals the psychological symptoms of PTSD that were subconsciously encoded into Marlowe's characterisation. Marlowe can only be understood a character shaped by Chandler's own experiences. This conflation of the hard-boiled style and war experience has influenced many contemporary crime writers, particularly in the traumatic aftermath of the Vietnam War. The sum of this work offers a new understanding of Chandler's traumatic war experience, how that experience established the traditional archetype of detective fiction, and how this reading of his work allows Chandler to transcend generic limitations to be recognised as a key twentieth century literary figure. E-Thesis American literature. 31 12 2010 2010-12-31 COLLEGE NANME English Language and Applied Linguistics COLLEGE CODE Swansea University Doctoral Ph.D 2018-08-02T16:24:28.9945936 2018-08-02T16:24:28.9945936 College of Arts and Humanities English Language and Applied Linguistics Sarah Louise Trott NULL 1 0042370-02082018162449.pdf 10798078.pdf 2018-08-02T16:24:49.0870000 Output 7665513 application/pdf E-Thesis true 2018-08-02T16:24:49.0870000 false
title The Detective as Veteran: The trauma of war in the work of Raymond Chandler.
spellingShingle The Detective as Veteran: The trauma of war in the work of Raymond Chandler.
Sarah Louise Trott
title_short The Detective as Veteran: The trauma of war in the work of Raymond Chandler.
title_full The Detective as Veteran: The trauma of war in the work of Raymond Chandler.
title_fullStr The Detective as Veteran: The trauma of war in the work of Raymond Chandler.
title_full_unstemmed The Detective as Veteran: The trauma of war in the work of Raymond Chandler.
title_sort The Detective as Veteran: The trauma of war in the work of Raymond Chandler.
author_id_str_mv b5092f595ad29b61bce3d229ae1376fd
author_id_fullname_str_mv b5092f595ad29b61bce3d229ae1376fd_***_Sarah Louise Trott
author Sarah Louise Trott
author2 Sarah Louise Trott
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description Raymond Chandler created his detective Philip Marlowe not as the idealisation of heroic individualism as is commonly perceived, but instead as an authentic individual subjected to very real psychological frailties resulting from his traumatic experiences during World War One. Marlowe's characterisation goes beyond the traditional chivalric readings and should instead be interpreted as an authentic representation of a traumatised veteran in American society. Substituting the horror of the trenches for the corruption of the city. Chandler's disillusioned protagonist and his representation of an uncaring American society resonate strongly with the dislocation of the Lost Generation. Consequently, it is profitable to consider Chandler not simply as a generic writer but as a genuine literary figure. This thesis re-examines important primary documents highlighting extensive discrepancies in existing biographical narratives of Chandler's war experience, and unveils an account that is significantly different from that of his biographers, revealing the trauma that troubled Chandler throughout his life. The application of psychological behavioural interpretation to interrogate Chandler's novels demonstrates the variety of post-traumatic symptoms that tormented both Chandler and his protagonist. A close reading of his personal papers reveals the psychological symptoms of PTSD that were subconsciously encoded into Marlowe's characterisation. Marlowe can only be understood a character shaped by Chandler's own experiences. This conflation of the hard-boiled style and war experience has influenced many contemporary crime writers, particularly in the traumatic aftermath of the Vietnam War. The sum of this work offers a new understanding of Chandler's traumatic war experience, how that experience established the traditional archetype of detective fiction, and how this reading of his work allows Chandler to transcend generic limitations to be recognised as a key twentieth century literary figure.
published_date 2010-12-31T04:09:11Z
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