CHANDLER, RAYMOND. 1888-1959.
The Big Sleep. New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1939. Salmon cloth. Slightly cocked, light shelfwear, else very good.
First edition, second printing, inscribed by Chandler on front free endpaper to his old war buddy William E. Lever in the first month of publication, in full: "For Bill, who won't like it, from his old friend and companion in arms. Ray Riverside California Feb. 1939." Together with a 60 x 85 mm photograph of Chandler and Lever in uniform, circa 1918, laid down to front pastedown, below Lever's ownership signature.
An exceptional association copy of Chandler's first novel, inscribed to his comrade from the British Royal Air Force during WWI, with whom he regularly corresponded about his travails attempting to become a writer during the 1930s (see subsequent lot). No inscribed copies of The Big Sleep have appeared at auction in the last 30 years, perhaps reflecting Chandler's comment that beside his wife Cissy, Lever was the one friend and companion he kept in contact with during the lonely years he struggled with alcohol addiction and crippling debt as he aspired to become a crime novelist. Bruccoli A1.1.b.