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MAYBE YOUR READING habits are like mine? I always seem to have four or five books that I’m part way through. Whenever I finish one, I’ve added another to my on-again/off-again reading stack.
One of these books is Raymond Chandler’s The Big Sleep, the annotated version.
Copious notations in this annotated book command my attention. I’ve watched the 1946 Bogart/Bacall flick enough times to know much of the book’s complex plot.
Today, tidbits are about sleeping with Virginia Woolf and dreaming about a naked girl with long jade earrings. (The naked girl is wearing the earrings, not me.)
The Dream. Philip Marlowe has just rescued the daffy Sternwood daughter from a porno shoot where there’s a pornographer’s dead body, and then there isn’t. No wonder Marlowe goes home and drinks too much hot toddy (annotation: “Whiskey mixed with hot water and sugar.”).
Marlowe says, “I went to bed full of whiskey and frustration and dreamed about a man in a bloody Chinese coat who chased a naked girl with long jade earrings while I ran after them and tried to take a photograph with an empty camera.”
Carmen Sternwood wasn’t naked in the movie, but I recognize the Chinese coat and long jade earrings.
Other Dreams. An annotation mentions Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone, 1868, which both T.S. Eliot and Jorge Luis Borges call the first proper detective novel.
This got me thinking of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue, 1841; The Mystery of Marie Rogȇt, 1842, and The Purloined Letter, 1845. These three feature C. Auguste Dupin in what Wikipedia calls “important early forerunners of the modern detective story.” No dream sequences, though.
My favorite dream is in Alfred Hitchcock’s psychoanalytic Spellbound, 1945; the scene designed by no less than Salvador Dali. The website artsy.net gives details of this Hitchcock/Dali collaboration. See also “Mickey and a Melting Watch?” for a Dali/Disney collaboration.
Woolf, Marlowe and Exclusion. Another annotation accompanies Marlowe’s musing on “big houses in ghostly enormous grounds, vague clusters of eaves and gables and lighted windows high on the hillside, remote and inaccessible like witch houses in a forest.”
The annotation cites A Room of One’s Own, 1929, in which Virginia Woolf writes, “What was the truth about these houses… dim and festive now with their red windows in dusk, but raw and red and squalid… at nine o’clock in the morning?”
“Woolf,” observe the annotators, “comments from the outside, excluded from membership in patriarchal ‘Oxbridge’ by gender. Marlowe comments from the outside, excluded by class.”
With heady thought such as these, no wonder it takes me a while to finish a book. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2021