This article accompanies the fable
Nowhere is Christie more "modernist" than in The Mysterious Mr. Quin, a collection of short stories first published in 1930. Even though its mysteries are resolved, they leave the same sense of unease as other modernist works, where it's apparent that both tradition and modernity are mirages. She just draws attention to the literary machinery in a different way from, say, the Bloomsbury Group or the Surrealists. In celebrating Commedia dell'arte and its dark whimsy, Christie isn't that distant from Picasso, Stravinsky and Chaplin and writers like P.G. Wodehouse and Georges Simenon.
While Christie enjoyed the process, it drove French poet Paul Valéry up the wall.
That great Valéry line can be sourced to André Breton in Manifeste du surréalisme in 1924 and the paragraph itself belong to writer Eric Ormsby who puts it exquisitely, in the Wall Street Journal no less.
Another who struggled with this dilemma was the under-rated painter Dora Carrington, arguably the most interesting figure associated with the Bloomsbury Group. She was almost an antithesis to Christie and when her life unraveled she committed suicide in 1932. Above is Tidmarsh (1918), a mill house near Reading that was one of the Bloomsbury Group's favorite retreats in the years after World War I, just as Greenway would be for Christie.