Maybe the Best Letter Ever Sent by a Writer to an Editor

To Edward Weeks, editor of the Atlantic Monthly:

By the way, would you convey my compliments to the purist who reads your proofs and tell him or her that I write in a sort of broken-down patois which is something like the way a Swiss waiter talks, and that when I split an infinitive, God damn it, I split it so it will stay split, and when I interrupt the velvety smoothness of my more or less literate syntax with a few sudden words of barroom vernacular, this is done with the eyes wide open and the mind relaxed but attentive. The method may not be perfect, but it is all I have. I think your proofreader is kindly attempting to steady me on my feet, but much as I appreciate the solicitude, I am really able to steer a fairly clear course, provided I get both sidewalks and the street between.

Kindest regards,
Raymond Chandler

Edward Weeks edited the Atlantic Monthly from 1938 to 1966. Raymond Chandler  began writing detective novels in his mid-40s—among the best known are The Big Sleep, Farewell, My Lovely, and The Long Goodbye. This letter, written in 1947, appears in Writers and Friends, a memoir by Weeks published by Atlantic-Little, Brown.

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