During his illustrious career as a detective novelist, Raymond Chandler filled a series of small, leather-bound notebooks—of which just two survived—with writing of a less varnished nature, their pages home to random musings, lists of similes (“Lower than a badger’s balls”), notes on style, collections of Chandlerisms (“Goodnight, goodbye and I’d hate to be you”), and the occasional diary entry. When he wrote this one in February of 1938, Chandler was forty-nine, and it would be another year before his debut novel, The Big Sleep, was released into the wild.
The Diary Entry
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. Neither is independent of the other or more important than the other. 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. The truth of art keeps science from becoming inhuman, and the truth of science keeps art from becoming ridiculous.
The Notebooks of Raymond Chandler was first published in 1976, edited by Frank MacShane. It’s a single volume, quite slim, and doesn’t feature everything from those surviving notebooks; however, it contains more than a few gems and is worth picking up. I’d also suggest grabbing a copy of Selected Letters of Raymond Chandler, also edited by MacShane, which in my humble opinion is a magnificent collection.
Diary entry excerpted from The Notebooks of Raymond Chandler. Published by HarperCollins. Copyright © The Estate of Raymond Chandler. Reproduced by permission of the Estate c/o Rogers, Coleridge & White Ltd., 20 Powis Mews, London W11 1JN.