Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Paris. Although the French capital is the country’s political, cultural, and artistic center, none of these attributes appears to matter in Monsieur Lecoq, except insofar as they contribute to the quest for justice, or, more likely, to crime. The only time that one of Paris’s famous cathedrals appears is when its bell wakes Lecoq; the only allusion to the city’s arts is made when Lecoq visits theaters investigating the identity of a man suspected of a triple homicide. Likewise, no private or public Parisian venue exists except as it relates to the investigation. Émile Gaboriau, who worked in Paris as a journalist, describes the living quarters of the very rich and the very poor; crime and justice are all that unite them. This is emphasized when Lecoq visits the morgue, which many Parisians of the period visited for entertainment.

A great deal of Lecoq’s expertise is his knowledge of Paris. There, Gaboriau draws on his own knowledge of the city, learned as a journalist. This knowledge extends beyond the official maps of the city; Lecoq trails his murder suspects out of a garden and into the unmarked wasteland beyond; he can track suspects even down unnamed streets.

Locales outside Paris are important primarily as they influence Paris, symbolizing European anxiety over a shifting sense of place in the nineteenth century. Some places produce known characters, such as a coachman who volunteers his help in the investigation in part because he is a Breton....

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(Great Characters in Literature)

Mandel, Ernest. Delightful Murder: A Social History of the Crime Story. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984. Monsieur Lecoq, among other detective and mystery novels, is analyzed as a social commentary. The novel is explored as a statement on the society during which the book was written.

Murch, A. E. The Development of the Detective Novel. New York: Kennikat Press, 1968. Explores the influence Monsieur Lecoq had on the detective novel genre. Contains an analysis of Lecoq as a character.

Symons, Julian. Bloody Murder: From the Detective Story to the Crime Novel. Winchester, Mass.: Faber and Faber, 1972. Monsieur Lecoq is analyzed in this work as an exemplary and influential detective novel. Places Monsieur Lecoq within the tradition and development of the detective and mystery novel.

Thomson, H. Douglas. Masters of Mystery: A Study of the Detective Story. London: Folcroft, 1969. Explores Monsieur Lecoq as an influential work. Contains a detailed analysis of the structure and characterizations in the novel.

Wright, Willard Huntington. “The Great Detective Stories.” In The Art of the Mystery Story: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Howard Haycraft. New York: Biblo and Tannen, 1946. Contains an analysis of Monsieur Lecoq as he develops in the novel. Monsieur Lecoq is compared to other great mystery characters.