A Series of Unfortunate Events - Setting


The books seem to be set in an alternate, "timeless" world with stylistic similarities to both the 19th century and the 1930s, though with contemporary, and seemingly anachronistic scientific knowledge. Credit cards are mentioned in The Bad Beginning. One example of this "technological disconnect" is documented in The Hostile Hospital, where the Baudelaire children send a message via Morse code on a telegraph, yet in the Last Chance General Store, there is fiber-optic cable for sale. An "advanced computer" appears in The Austere Academy, which, while outdated by current standards, is nonetheless more advanced than the earliest computers; this computer's exact functions are never stated, as its only use in the book is to show a picture of Count Olaf (which both Mr. Poe and Vice Principal Nero believe will keep him away), but in the companion book The Unauthorised Autobiography, one of the letters describes the computer as capable of an advanced act of forgery. Also, in the Austere Academy, Mr. Remora mentions that he watched television at a telling of one of his classroom stories, suggesting television exists as well. One of the few clues to the exact date comes towards the end of the final book in the series, where Klaus mentions he plans to read a set of novels by PG Wodehouse, which would put the novel no earlier than the 20th century. The setting of the world has been compared to Edward Scissorhands in that it is "suburban gothic". Although the film version sets the Baudelaires' mansion in the city of Boston, Massachusetts, real places rarely appear in the books, although many are mentioned. For example, in The Reptile Room, Uncle Monty and the Baudelaires plan a trip to Peru; there are also references to the fictional nobility of North American regions, specifically the Duchess of Winnipeg and the King of Arizona. A book in Jerome and Esmé Squalor's library was titled Trout, In France They're Out.

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