Murder by Sound: Listening to Crime Scenes in Anna Katharine Green’s Short Fiction

Alessandra Calanchi


Anna Katharine Green’s Violet Strange stories, published in 1915, feature modern representations of both crime scenes and methods of investigation. This essay analyzes the descriptions of such scenes and methods from the perspective of soundscape studies, revealing Green’s unprecedented awareness of the dynamics of perpetrating/investigating a crime. Silence, noises, music, and voices offer a complex and articulated context, which is never detached from the action but, on the contrary, participates in a multi-layered construction of meanings. Aural witnesses, whispering, and eavesdropping are part of the multitude of ways in which soundscapes inform the text. Finally, this essay analyzes how crime and even murder are frequently connected to sound and how listening to the crime scene can lead to the solution of a mystery.


American literature, crime fiction, soundscape

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