WTF? The first edition cover of Raymond Chandler’s Farewell, My Lovely
Raymond Chandler‘s Farewell, My Lovely (1940) has always been my favourite Philip Marlowe novel, and one of my all-time favourite novels, period. After all, what’s not to love? Moose Malloy? Velma? Shine bars? Jewel thieves? Betrayal? Armed robbery? Love with no limits? And tromping through it all is Marlowe, a man who realizes he’s both tarnished and possibly even afraid? It even served as the inspiration for both the best film adaptation of Chandler’s work, Murder My Sweet, and arguably the best screen Marlowe ever, Dick Powell.
But the first edition cover, published by Alfred A. Knopf of New York way back in 1940, has always intrigued me. And now, thanks to this larger-than-life scan someone recently sent me (current asking price for a decent copy of the first edition is over ten grand over on Abebooks, so it’s a bit out of my budget), I’ve finally had a good squint at it, and it turns out my befuddlement was not misplaced.
I love the typography, and the canted text. The classic drop shadows, but the abstract doohickies floating in from stage left at the top? What the hell are they? Clouds? Mutant amoebas? Slow-moving bullets? UFOs? And what on earth is that to the right? A high school exercise in perspective? Laser beams? Death rays?
I mean, really. What the fuck?
Granted, Chandler hasn’t been particularly well-served by his publishers when it came to his covers. Particularly in the early years.
For example, the 1951 Pocket Books edition of Farewell, My Lovely. I thought well enough of it to re-imagine it once for this site, but apparently Chandler himself was not a fan.