On ouvre un livre au hasard et on lit

Time this week calls Philip Marlowe "amoral." This is pure nonsense. Assuming that his intelligence is as high as mine (it could hardly be higher), assuming his chances in life to promote his own interest are as numerous as they must be, why does he work for such a pittance? For the answer to that is the whole story, the story that is always being written by indirection and yet never is written completely or even clearly. It is the struggle of all fundamentally honest men to make a decent living in a corrupt society. It is an impossible struggle; he can't win. He can be poor and bitter and take it out in wisecracks and casual amours, or he can be corrupt and amiable and rude like a Hollywood producer. Because the bitter fact is that outside of two or three technical professions which require long years of preparation, there is absolutely no way for a man of this age to acquire a decent affluence in life without to some degree corrupting himself, without accepting the cold, clear fact that success is always and everywhere a racket.
The stories I wrote were ostensibly mysteries. I did not write the stories behind those stories, because I was not a good enough writer. That does not alter the basic fact that Marlowe is a more honorable man than you or I. I don't mean Bogart playing Marlowe and I don't mean because I created him. I didn't create him at all; I've seen dozens like him in all essentials except the few colorful qualities he needed to be in a book. (A few even had those.) They were all poor; they will always be poor. How could they be anything else.

Lettre de Raymond Chandler à John Houseman, octobre 1949.  
The Raymond Chandler Papers. Atlantic Monthly Press, 2000.

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