The Gentle Art of Murder: The Detective Fiction of Agatha Christie

By Earl F. Bargainnier | Go to book overview

Chapter II

Setting

High-class advertisers have long known her rule of work: keep the background innocuous if you want your product to stand out.

Nigel Dennis

... nor do we want a description of scenery when the only thing that matters to us is to decide exactly how long it takes us to walk from the boat-house above the mill-race to the gamekeeper's cottage on the other side of the coppice.

Somerset Maugham

...she tells more about what happened to England since the First World War than The Times— either of London or New York. That quick and unerring eye for the homely detail is worth volumes of social history.

Emma Lathen

Among critics of detective fiction, there is a clear division of thought on setting. One group desires a careful delineation of locale inextricably linked to the action; the other group wants as little physical description as possible. Christie's work has always appealed more to the second group, while being often attacked for its bland backgrounds by the first. In explaining why she gave up attempts to become a sculptor, Christie said, "I had no eye for visual forms.... I realized I couldn't really see things." 1 She was being modest, for she did see things. But certainly descriptions of natural scenery do not play a large part in her work. Her attitude is that of her narrator in The Man in the Brown Suit: 'I guarantee no genuine local color—you know the sort of thing—half a dozen words in italics on every page. I admire it very much, but I can't do it" (107). Nor does she often place her stories in specialized milieus—the lawyer's office, the theatre, the university—where the action is integral to the locale. The major exception is Murder in Mesopotamia, which takes place at an Iraqi archaeological dig, and that was the result of personal experience. Her usual method is to sketch the physical scene quickly, leaving it to the reader to fill in the details as his imagination desires. The setting is never obtrusive; it is not mere decoration or filler, which is allowed to distract from the central action of mystification-detection. She does not attempt, as some other writers do, "to conceal a shaky plot behind a screen of

-21-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Gentle Art of Murder: The Detective Fiction of Agatha Christie
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Gentle Art of Murder - The Detective Fiction of Agatha Christie *
  • Contents *
  • Preface 1
  • Chapter I - Golden Age Detective Fiction: an Introduction to Christie's Genre 4
  • Chapter II - Setting 21
  • Chapter III - Characters 38
  • Chapter IV - Plot 144
  • Chapter V - Devices, Diversions, & Debits 167
  • Chapter VI - Theme 190
  • Chapter VII - The Achievement of Agatha Christie 199
  • Notes 205
  • Bibliography 210
  • Index of Characters 223
  • Index of Novel and Short Story Titles 227
  • Key to Documentation 230
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 232

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.