Raymond Chandler Quotes (102 Quotes)


    I looked down at the chessboard. The move with the knight was wrong. I put it back where I had moved it from. Knights had no meaning in this game. It wasn't a game for knights.



    It was a smooth silvery voice that matched her hair. It had a tiny tinkle in it, like bells in a doll's house. I thought that was silly as soon as I thought of it.

    It was about eleven o'clock in the morning, mid October, with the sun not shining and a look of hard wet rain in the clearness of the foothills. I was wearing my powder-blue suit, with dark blue shirt, tie and display handkerchief, black brogues, black wool socks with dark little clocks on them. I was neat, clean, shaved and sober, and I didn't care who knew it. I was everything the well-dressed private detective ought to be. I was calling on four million dollars.





    She lowered her lashes until they almost cuddled her cheeks and slowly raised them again, like a theatre curtain. I was to get to know that trick. That was supposed to make me roll over on my back with all four paws in the air.

    She was thinking. i could see, even on that short acquaintance, that thinking was always going to be a bother for her.



    Such a lot of guns around town and so few brains. You're the second guy I've met within hours who seems to think a gat in the hand means a world by the tail.


    Under the thinning fog the surf curled and creamed, almost without sound, like a thought trying to form inself on the edge of consciousness.

    Hair like steel wool grew far back on his head and gave him a domed brown forehead that might at careless glance seemed a dwelling place for brains.



    You were dead, you were sleeping the big sleep, you were not bothered by things like that, oil and water were the same as wind and air to you. You just slept the big sleep, not caring about the nastiness of how you died or where you fell. Me, I was part of the nastiness now. Far more a part of it than Rusty Regan was.

    I don't mind your showing me your legs. They're very swell legs and it's a pleasure to make their acquaintace. I don't mind if you don't like my manners. They're pretty bad. I grieve over them during the long winter nights.

    If my books had been any worse, I should not have been invited to Hollywood, and if they had been any better, I should not have come.

    When in doubt, have two guys come through the door with guns.

    Alcohol is like love. The first kiss is magic, the second is intimate, the third is routine. After that you take the girl's clothes off.

    The English may not always be the best writers in the world, but they are incomparably the best dull writers.

    She jerked away from me like a startled fawn might, if I had a startled fawn and it jerked away from me.

    That's one thing I like about Hollywood. The writer is there revealed in his ultimate corruption. He asks no praise, because his praise comes to him in the form of a salary check. In Hollywood the average writer is not young, not honest, not brave, and a bit overdressed. But he is darn good company, which book writers as a rule are not. He is better than what he writes. Most book writers are not as good.

    Would you convey my compliments to the purist who reads your proofs and tell him or her that I write in a sort of broken-down patois which is something like the way a Swiss waiter talks, and that when I split an infinitive, God damn it, I split it so it will stay split, and when I interrupt the velvety smoothness of my more or less literate syntax with a few sudden words of bar-room vernacular, that is done with the eyes wide open and the mind relaxed but attentive.

    The overall picture, as the boys say, is of a degraded community whose idealism even is largely fake. The pretentiousness, the bogus enthusiasm, the constant drinking, the incessant squabbling over money, the all-pervasive agent, the strutting of the big shots (and their usually utter incompetence to achieve anything they start out to do), the constant fear of losing all this fairy gold and being the nothing they have never ceased to be, the snide tricks, the whole damn mess is out of this world.


    Some are able and humane men and some are low-grade individuals with the morals of a goat, the artistic integrity of a slot machine, and the manners of a floorwalker with delusions of grandeur.

    What did it matter where you lay once you were dead In a dirty sump or in a marble tower on top of a high hill You were dead, you were sleeping the big sleep, you were not bothered by things like that. Oil and water were the same as wind and air to you.

    It is pretty obvious that the debasement of the human mind caused by a constant flow of fraudulent advertising is no trivial thing. There is more than one way to conquer a country.


    Chess is the most elaborate waste of human intelligence outside of an advertising agency.

    The minute you try to talk business with him he takes the attitude that he is a gentleman and a scholar, and the moment you try to approach him on the level of his moral integrity he starts to talk business.

    Throughout the history of commercial life nobody has ever quite liked the commission man. His function is too vague, his presence always seems one too many, his profit looks too easy, and even when you admit that he has a necessary function, you feel that this function is, as it were, a personification of something that in an ethical society would not need to exist. If people could deal with one another honestly, they would not need agents.

    From 30 feet away she looked like a lot of class. From 10 feet away she looked like something made up to be seen from 30 feet away.

    Ability is what you're capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.

    There is something about the literary life that repels me, all this desperate building of castles on cobwebs, the long-drawn acrimonious struggle to make something important which we all know will be gone forever in a few years, the miasma of failure which is to me almost as offensive as the cheap gaudiness of popular success.

    So by all means let's have a television show quick and long, even if the commercial has to be delivered by a man in a white coat with a stethoscope hanging around his neck, selling ergot pills. After all the public is entitled to what it wants, isn't it The Romans knew that and even they lasted four hundred years after they started to putrefy.

    There are two kinds of truth the truth that lights the way and the truth that warms the heart. The first of these is science, and the second is art. Without art science would be as useless as a pair of high forceps in the hands of a plumber. Without science art would become a crude mess of folklore and emotional quackery.

    What greater prestige can a man like me (not too gifted, but very understanding) have than to have taken a cheap, shoddy and utterly lost kind of writing, and have made of it something that intellectuals claw each other about.

    Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean.

    Woe, woe, woe... in a little while we shall all be dead. Therefore let us behave as though we were dead already.

    Good critical writing is measured by the perception and evaluation of the subject; bad critical writing by the necessity of maintaining the professional standing of the critic.

    I said something which gave you to think I hated cats. But gad, sir, I am one of the most fanatical cat lovers in the business. If you hate them, I may learn to hate you. If your allergies hate them, I will tolerate the situation to the best of my ability.

    Television's perfect. You turn a few knobs, a few of those mechanical adjustments at which the higher apes are so proficient, and lean back and drain your mind of all thought. And there you are watching the bubbles in the primeval ooze. You don't have to concentrate. You don't have to react. You don't have to remember. You don't miss your brain because you don't need it. Your heart and liver and lungs continue to function normally. Apart from that, all is peace and quiet. You are in the man's nirvana. And if some poor nasty minded person comes along and says you look like a fly on a can of garbage, pay him no mind. He probably hasn't got the price of a television set.

    Chess is as elaborate a waste of human intelligence as you can find outside an advertising agency.

    If you believe in an ideal, you don't own you, it owns you.

    Its idea of ''production value'' is spending a million dollars dressing up a story that any good writer would throw away. Its vision of the rewarding movie is a vehicle for some glamour-puss with two expressions and eighteen changes of costume, or for some male idol of the muddled millions with a permanent hangover, six worn-out acting tricks, the build of a lifeguard, and the mentality of a chicken-strangler.


    More Raymond Chandler Quotations (Based on Topics)


    Man - Business & Commerce - World - Writing - Mind - Life - Art - Movies - Thought & Thinking - English - Sleep - Advertising - Television - Money & Wealth - Manner - Perfection - Law & Regulation - Sense & Perception - Performance Arts - View All Raymond Chandler Quotations

    More Raymond Chandler Quotations (By Book Titles)


    - The Big Sleep

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