Red Wind notes

Red Wind notes - 1 Notes on Raymond Chandlers Red Wind Marc...

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1 Notes on Raymond Chandler’s “Red Wind” Marc Seals University of Wisconsin—Baraboo/Sauk County Raymond Chandler’s claim to a place in the canon of American literature seems to be gaining ground. In 1995, the Library of America dedicated two volumes to Raymond Chandler. Chandler’s collected short fiction was finally released in 2002 (in an Everyman’s Library edition). The May 2004 issue of American Heritage Magazine contained an article by Allen Barra which listed the people who have, in the judgment of the writer, had the greatest influence on popular culture in America over the last fifty years; Raymond Chandler was listed third. Barra says, “[A]lthough Chandler evokes the forties as does no other American writer, his real influence was to be on later decades” (26-7). Barra goes on to assert that Chandler “helped create the look and feel of film noir that haunts Hollywood to this day” (27). Most significant for instructors of literature may be the fact that the recently released Seventh Edition of The Norton Anthology of American Literature, Vol. D includes Chandler’s short story “Red Wind.” Chandler has always been recognized as an important author in Great Britain; this prompted Chandler to write in a 1952 letter: “In England I am an author. In the USA just a mystery writer” ( Selected Letters 320). Perhaps his reputation in the United States is finally (to use a rather tired phrase) “transcending the genre” of detective fiction. “Red Wind” was first published in the January 1938 issue of Dime Detective Magazine . Critic William Marling calls “Red Wind” a “lesser effort, despite its reputation” (65). Chandler himself, in contrast, told Hamish Hamilton in a 1948 letter
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2 that he considered the tale to be one of his best ( Raymond Chandler Speaking 218). Marling is perhaps a bit harsh in his valuation; “Red Wind” is one of the most fully developed of Chandler’s short stories, possessing a complete Chandler hero named John Dalmas—a wisecracking, chess-playing, simile-delivering, chivalrous private detective 1 . Chandler biographer Jerry Speir notes the many “stylistic affinities” that “Red Wind” shares with Chandler’s novels (98). Though most of these elements are present in earlier stories, Peter Wolfe points out that in “Red Wind” Chandler avoids “stock characters and settings.” This allows Chandler, Wolfe says, to “write with verve, concentration and conviction” (104). There are several additional noteworthy elements upon which an instructor seeking to effectively teach “Red Wind” might wish to focus. The story concerns a confluence of several of Chandler’s favorite plot elements—blackmail, a necklace, and pearls. As the title indicates, Chandler utilizes weather as a motif. In this case, the hot, dry Santa Ana winds that plague southern California autumns are used to foreshadow violence and death. Calling these winds “red” might evoke thoughts of blood, passion,
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Red Wind notes - 1 Notes on Raymond Chandlers Red Wind Marc...

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