Murder Must Advertise represents a turning point in Dorothy L. Sayers’s development as a writer and Christian thinker. Previously, she had depicted sinful individuals, but here she expands her moral vision to encompass social sin on a grand scale, focusing on advertising. The novel’s major structural device is the comparison of two groups: an advertising agency and a drug trafficking ring. Although these groups differ superficially, Sayers suggests they are fundamentally similar, as each is a “dream city” based on an illusion. They resemble each other in three ways. In both, a small group of people operates behind the scenes to exploit a larger group in order to profit financially. Both are relentlessly materialistic. And both deny death even though they are agents of death, either physical or spiritual. Although Murder Must Advertise is artistically flawed, it lays the foundation for Sayers’s later work in social criticism and Dante commentary.
"Dream Cities and Cardboard Worlds: Sayers' Moral Vision in Murder Must Advertise,"
Inklings Forever: Published Colloquium Proceedings 1997-2016: Vol. 7, Article 6.
Available at: https://pillars.taylor.edu/inklings_forever/vol7/iss1/6
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