key points of the big sleep.

Key Facts

full title ·  The Big Sleep

author ·  Raymond Chandler

type of work ·  Novel

genre ·  Crime novel; detective novel; mystery; noir; Los Angeles fiction

language ·  English

time and place written ·  Late 1930s, Los Angeles

date of first publication ·  1939

publisher ·  Alfred Knopf

narrator ·  Philip Marlowe, a private detective, describes the actions that take place as he describes the commission at hand

point of view ·  First person

tone ·  The author and narrator share the same tone of darkness and cynical romanticism

tense ·  Immediate past

setting (time) ·  1930s

setting (place) ·  Los Angeles

protagonist ·  Philip Marlowe

major conflict ·  Detective Philip Marlowe is hired to take care of a blackmailing case involving a man named Arthur Gwynn Geiger, a pornographer whose death causes many other deaths. The novel also concerns the search for Rusty Regan, which occupies the second half of the book and becomes a second plot line

rising action ·  The murder of Geiger; the death of Owen Taylor; Brody’s blackmailing and death; Carol Lundgren’s capture; Agnes’s partnership with Harry Jones and, earlier, Joe Brody; the finding of Mona Grant; Carmen’s appearance in Marlowe’s bed; General Sternwood’s admission of wanting to find Rusty Regan; Carmen’s attempt to murder Marlowe in the oilfields

climax ·  Carmen attempts to kill Marlowe in the abandoned oil field, causing Marlowe to put the pieces of the Rusty Regan puzzle together and link it with the rest of the plot

falling action ·  Marlowe’s explanation to Vivian Sternwood of what he knows about Rusty Regan causing her to confess to the disposal of her husband’s body and causing her to promise to help Carmen towards a cure for her madness.

themes ·  The cynicism of 1930s America; the corruption of American society

motifs ·  The knight; the weather

symbols ·  The greenhouse; the orchids; the stained glass; the chessboard

foreshadowing ·  The portrait and its dark eyes; the stained glass; the weather

Time viewed 19:30 pm

These are the key points that were pointed out to me from the spark-notes website. I found these useful at the beginning of my research as it has helped me direct my further research and choose what I would like to concentrate on.

Sisterly love.

Carmen Sternwood

Like Marlowe, Carmen is not what she appears. She appears to be, as her father says a young, childish girl who “likes to pull the wings off flies.” Her “flies,” however turn out to be much larger than her father imagined. Carmen murders Rusty Regan, the character Marlowe has been searching for futilely. Carmen is so important because she illustrates an inherent “doubleness” that exists throughout the novel.

In a feminist reading, we might see Carmen as a character that is portrayed in a typically anti-feminist manner. She is unintelligent and emotional. She is spoiled just like her sister, Vivian. Carmen is a flirtatious, giggly, beautiful girl with the heart of a murderess. More important, she is mentally instable—a Siren of sorts, much like the deadly Sirens who tempt Odysseus in Homer’sOdyssey. The portrayal of women in The Big Sleep is one that can be explored further in the characters of Vivian Sternwood and the attractive Mona Mars.

Time viewed 19:07 pm

From my research so far I have chosen to concentrate on the sisters. I believe their characters are good representations of the concept unruliness. This is the detailed character description of the youngest sister; Carmen.

What is the book about?

Chapter 2

Marlowe follows the butler into the greenhouse, where the sick General is waiting. The greenhouse is uncomfortably hot, filled with jungle-like greenery, and the air thick and moist, suffused with a suffocating odor of wet orchids. They reach an open space where the sick and dying General is sitting in his wheelchair. Marlowe sits down and accepts a drink of brandy, and is told that he may smoke. The ailing General Sternwood explains that, like the orchids, he seems only to be able to exist in this heat.

The two men have a fast-paced conversation. Marlowe describes himself briefly and the General outlines the case that Marlowe is supposed to “take care of.” The General says he is being blackmailed, and not for the first time. He had been blackmailed in the past by a man named Joe Brody, to whom he had to pay $5,000 in order for Joe to the General’s youngest daughter, Carmen, alone.

Now, the General is again being blackmailed through a scheme involving his daughter, by man named Arthur Gwynn Geiger, who claims that Carmen has a number of gambling debts, for which he provides three signed promissory notes. Sternwood shows Marlowe the promissory notes, which carry Carmen’s signature and date from September, the month prior. Also attached is a card that carries the name of Mr. Arthur Gwynn Geiger and the name of his business, “Rare Books and De Luxe Editions.” The rare book business appears to be some kind of cover for Geiger, who is asking for $1,000.

 Sternwood then introduces another mystery when he mentions the disappearance of his son-in-law, Rusty Regan. The General had taken a liking to Regan because Regan had spent many hours with the General in the hot greenhouse talking to him. Regan had been a soldier in the Irish revolution, an illegal immigrant in the United States, and had married the General’s eldest daughter, Vivian Sternwood. After this aside about Regan’s disappearance, the conversation ends.

Marlowe exits the greenhouse to find Norris, the butler, ready to write out a check for him and telling him that “Mrs. Regan”—Vivian Sternwood—would like to see him. Apparently Mrs. Regan is curious as to why her father has called in a private detective.

Time viewed 19:00 pm.

This is just an extract from spark-notes which goes into detail about the plot of The Big Sleep. Due to the short time span that this project is I do not have time to read the book itself as I would of liked. During further reading I found a suggested metaphor of the green house lined with the daughters. The orchids are representations of their personalities.

A visual inspiration.

William Boyd Fascination book jacket

We are asked to respond to the brief in a photographic way and in a creative manner. When researching through the theory on book cover design I came across this photograph/ book cover design and feel that I can take inspiration from it when approaching my own creative response. My one criticism is that the hierarchy is not all that clear, perhaps smaller text could have been used to display this.

Penguin books- research, inspiration.

  • Handmade fonts.
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 In response to this next project I would like to take more of a typographic approach. My reasons being maybe perhaps simple but type has a long and ageing history as does Penguin itself. This is  a post in a blog I came across that inspired me and also came across with strong and powerful images of how the hand made typefaces can be applied. This is leading me to ask myself how can I make my own typeface with things that I wouldn’t even  consider before seeing this post.