Playback.London: Hamish Hamilton, 1958 Stock Code: 145639
From the creator of Philip Marlowe to the creator of James BondFirst edition, first impression, an outstanding presentation copy to Ian Fleming, inscribed by the author on the front free endpaper, "To Ian, with love, Ray", an inscription expressive of the remarkable friendship between two masters of the thriller, creators of two of the century's most memorable fictional characters, James Bond and Philip Marlowe.
This friendship, aptly represented by the affectionate presentation of this book - Chandler's final completed novel before his death the following year - was of great consequence for modern literature: without Chandler's encouragement, it seems very probable that Fleming would have ended the Bond series after only a few novels.
Fleming had long admired Chandler's work before their first meeting over a dinner in London at Stephen Spender's in May 1955, shortly after the publication of Moonraker on 7 April, and with Diamonds are Forever completed in manuscript. "Fleming treated him with the deference he reserved for very few. Chandler had arrived in England a month before and was just emerging from a long spell of drinking which had followed the death of his beloved wife Cissie at La Jolla in California the previous year... Two more different characters than the creators of Philip Marlowe and James Bond it would be hard to find, but since that dinner at the Spenders' they had met on several occasions and got on well together" (Pearson, The Life of Ian Fleming, pp. 231-32).
Their meeting was of enormous consequence to Fleming's literary career: "The friendship between the two men... was to prove of importance to Fleming and also James Bond. Indeed, but for Chandler it is more than likely that Fleming would have finished off his hero for good at the big desk at Goldeneye the following year. For when he came back to London from Jamaica with the manuscript of Diamonds Are Forever in March 1955, Fleming had had enough of his creation... he seems to have convinced himself that he had gone as far with writing about James Bond as he ever would or could" (Pearson, pp. 232-33). However, Chandler encouraged Fleming, praising the second Bond novel Live and Let Die, which Fleming had apparently sent to him beforehand, and writing a testimonial about the book for Fleming's publishers. "The interest and support of Chandler had come at a crucial moment for Ian Fleming, and the brief meetings between them in May and early June, even before the testimonial was written, had an electric effect on the attitude of Fleming to his writing and his hero... Chandler's approval seems to have made Fleming quickly decide that his next book, instead of finishing Bond for good, would go to the opposite extreme. It would be different from any other book he had written, it would have depth and seriousness. Bond would become a 'rounded character' like Chandler's hero Philip Marlowe" (Pearson, pp. 237-38).
Intriguingly, on the dedication page, the dedication "To Jean and Helga without whom this book would never have been written" has the terminal line crossed out, apparently in Chandler's hand and in the same pen as the inscription.
Octavo. Original red cloth, spine lettered in yellow. With dust jacket. Housed in a black cloth chemise and a black morocco-backed slipcase.
Bump to foot of spine, faint partial tanning to endpapers, slight lean to spine, a very good copy in the faintly spine-tanned jacket with rubbing to the extremities and small chips to the spine ends.
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