The Simple Art of Murder refers to both a critical essay and a collection of short stories written by hard-boiled detective fiction author Raymond Chandler.
The essay is considered a seminal piece... More > of literary criticism. Although Chandler's primary topic is the art (and failings) of detective fiction, he touches on general literature and modern society as well.
The opening statement – "Fiction in any form has always intended to be realistic" – places Chandler in a lineage with earlier American Realists, in particular Mark Twain and his critique of James Fenimore Cooper, "Fenimore Cooper's Literary Offenses". Chandler dissects A. A. Milne's The Red House Mystery much as Twain tears apart Cooper's The Deerslayer, namely by revealing what is ignored, brushed over, and unrealistic. "If the situation is false," Chandler writes, "you cannot even accept it as a light novel, for there is no story for the light novel to be about."< Less