CHANDLER, Raymond (1888-1959). A collection of 16 typed letters signed ("Raymond Chandler" (2) and "Ray") to Deirdre Gartrell, 49 Carlton Hill, London, and La Jolla CA, 15 February 1956 - 14 August 1957, frequent corrections in autograph, one letter including a typscript 14-line poem. Together 40 pages, 8vo and 4to, with three telegrams and a manuscript account by the recipient of the circumstances of the correspondence. Provenance: Deirdre Gartrell.
THE ART OF LOVE AND THE PAINS OF LONELINESS. The 68-year old Chandler, fresh from two suicide attempts, thanks his 17-year old correspondent for her cheer-up letter, and, more significantly, "for your measurements, which 20 years ago would have made me rather excitable." In June 1956 he goes on "I suppose you realise, baby, that I am old enough to be your grandfather," before describing his new quarters in La Jolla ("a superb climate, but nothing from the neck up"). The letters continue with a broad range of reflections on a writer's life ("A writer with a reputation doesn't get only praise; he also gets malice, envy, and some abuse, sarcasm, malignant reviews from jealous little men ..."), education in the US and Britain ("All our staterun institutions are co-educational and there is too damn much sex in them. On the other hand we don't breed sodomites like the English boarding schools"), and memories of the First World War: "If you had to go over the top somehow all you seemed to think of was trying to keep the men spaced, in order to reduce casualties ... It's only human to want to bunch for companionship in face of heavy fire." The central subject of the correspondence, however, is the relations between the sexes, and how to manage them: "I'd like to say this to you, though, from a man who knows a great deal about women, that no girl is as safe as she thinks she is ... I have a talent for women, and the basis of it is this: You never treat them except as something to be adored and respected and you never lay a hand on them until you know that they are ready and willing to get into bed with you. (This is the shock system) ... Kisses may be many things. But if you ever feel yourself beginning to tremble, run like hell." The letters express particular concern at his correspondent's relationships: "If you are a passionate and sensual type, you will find that he will be no good in bed ... If you should ever feel yourself slipping ... hop on a plane and come and see me, of course as my guest in every possible sense." Above all, Chandler's reflections are dominated by happy memories of his own marriage: "I had ... a long and very ideal marriage -- except for the last few years when I had to watch my wife die by half inches of fibrosis of the lungs ... Love is a strange thing. I smoked a pipe from morning to night when my wife was alive and she loved it ... I used to drink a great deal of tea, and my wife loved that ... Since she died I don't smoke a pipe or drink tea; I suppose it may be wrong, but everything intimately connected with her likes has died with me when she died."
Published in The Australian Love Letters of Raymond Chandler (1996). After the death of his wife Cissy in 1954, Chandler's alcoholism worsened, and it was a report of his suicide attempt in February 1955 that prompted the beginning of this exchange. Together 16 items. (16)