Every other week, Expedictionary spotlights a literary quote for your enjoyment. This week is an excerpt from Raymond Chandler’s classic detective novel, The Big Sleep.
One of the monuments of crime noir and detective fiction, The Big Sleep is a triumph on many levels. Chandler’s talent for voice coupled with astute social observations made him one of the greatest writers of the 20th century.
Here’s a passage from the novel that explains the memorable title. Be warned, this passage contains a minor spoiler.
“What did it matter where you lay once you were dead? In a dirty sump or in a marble tower on the top of a high hill? You were dead, you were sleeping the big sleep, you were not bothered by things like that. Oil and water were the same as wind and air to you. You just slept the big sleep, not caring about the nastiness of how you died or where you fell. Me, I was part of the nastiness now. Far more a part of it than Rusty Regan was. But the old man didn’t have to be. He could lie quiet in his canopied bed, with his bloodless hands folded on the sheet, waiting. His heart was a brief, uncertain murmur. His thoughts were as gray as ashes. (SPOILER ALERT) And in a little while he too, like Rusty Regan, would be sleeping the big sleep.” (END OF SPOILERS)