Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Court House

Court House. Home of Lucia Harden; an idealized English country estate in Harmouth that contains the valuable Harden Library. After Lucia’s father dies in Italy heavily in debt, she sells the library at an undervalued low price to the father of the gifted young poet Savage Keith Rickman, who then begins an eight-year quest to earn enough money to return the library to its rightful owner and nearly dies from starvation and overwork in the process. At Court House, Rickman discovers both his love for Lucia and, simultaneously, his greatest poetic inspiration. The emergence of this inspiration in a rural, natural environment establishes an urban/pastoral motif that runs throughout the novel.


*London. City in which Keith Rickman and several other characters live and work. It is often referred to throughout the novel as simply “the City.” Rickman’s poetic inspiration, like many of the so-called Decadent poets of the 1890’s, comes first from the urban environment of London. Rickman both works and socializes within the world of literary magazines and journalism on Fleet Street, where petty rivalries between the editor of The Planet and the editor of Metropolis damage Rickman’s potential literary success. Gossip about Rickman is often circulated at the Junior Journalists’ Club, an organization of newspapermen, editors, and literary critics located in the Strand. The city also represents the source of Rickman’s struggles between his artistic...

(The entire section is 627 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Bloom, Harold, ed. May Sinclair. Twentieth-Century British Literature 14. New York: Chelsea House, 1986. Excerpts from several sources summarizing Sinclair’s accomplishments as a novelist. Includes excellent reviews of The Divine Fire from the time of the novel’s first publication.

Boll, Theophilus. Miss May Sinclair, Novelist: A Biographical and Critical Introduction. Rutherford, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1973. Detailed though somewhat favorably biased study of Sinclair’s life and career. Comments on the significance of The Divine Fire to her reputation, and offers brief analyses of plot and narrative techniques.

Brown, Penny. “May Sinclair: The Conquered Will.” In Poison at the Source: The Female Novel of Self-Development in the Early Twentieth Century. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1992. Discusses Sinclair’s work as an example of the way twentieth century female novelists portray difficulties faced by women trying to develop a sense of identity. Links The Divine Fire with other early Sinclair works that share affinities with Victorian fiction.

Kaplan, Sydney J. Feminine Consciousness in the Modern British Novel. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1975. A chapter on Sinclair included in a study of five female British novelists who focus on the tensions between the ideal of sexual equality and the realities of female subordination. Comments on the use of psychological techniques in her fiction.

Zegger, Hrisey. May Sinclair. Boston: Twayne, 1976. Good general introduction to the novelist’s career. Classifies The Divine Fire as an idealistic novel, calling it an allegory of the individual’s journey through life. Considers it one of Sinclair’s least successful artistic productions, despite its popularity.