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Dorothy L. Sayers

Dorothy L. Sayers Books

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A classic author from the golden era of mysteries, Dorothy L. Sayers is best known for her series featuring nobleman-detective Lord Peter Wimsey.

For more about Dorothy Sayers, read the profile in Dorothy L. Sayers Profile at the Mystery Time Line.

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Bettina - 05:04pm Sep 23, 2002 PST(#103 of 118)

I read Gaudy Night when I was rather young, 16 I think. I was very much impressed and from that day on, my greatest wish was to study in Oxford. I wanted to be a scholar and rediscover footnotes that had been forgotten for centuries. I wanted to learn to be well-bred and to speak with the Oxford accent. I wanted to be sophisticated and have endless discussions about values and things. Somehow, however, I never got to Oxford. First of all, my marks weren't nearly good enough. And then, my parents would never have been able to afford the fees. I'm 22 now, studying English in Germany. And actually, I'm always pleased when I come across one of Lord Peter's and Harriet's many quotations in my reading. I've never read any Kai-Lung though, nor any Donne. It's not the kind of thing that's usually on the syllabus of German universities. But I've read Tristram Shandy, just because Harriet reads it in Have His Carcase. And I enjoyed it quite a lot! Anyway, I just want to say that reading Sayers has influenced me and my perception of English literature quite a lot. I know I sound very solemn. Never mind. I'd be interested to know if any of you have had similar experiences while reading Sayers.


Magnus Klaue - 01:03pm Sep 29, 2002 PST(#104 of 118)

have to admit that i dislike the books of dorothy l. sayers VERY much. i think they are an exellent example for a kind of pseudo-intellectual literature that tries to be appear than it is. these exhausting dialogues about arts, fashion, philosohy, literature...just to show that she is intelligent and knows all the classics. but in the whole, the books are totally boring!! the plots may be sufficient for a short story but not for a novel. besides, she is racist and fascist, just read what she writes about the 'working class', about indians, blacks and so's a horrible experience to read these books.

Bettina - 03:35am Oct 8, 2002 PST(#105 of 118)

Hey, this is cool!

At last someone who actually writes something controversial! Thanks Magnus.

Of course, the reader of a Sayers novel must always bear in mind that she wrote it before WW II when political correctness was as unheard of as space rockets.

I admit that she is a little show-off. I don't deny it, even though I realised it only lately.

Actually I would like Magnus to give some examples of Dorothy Sayers' racism and fascism. As he suffered so much reading her novels, I'm sure he'll be able to give us some interesting quotations.

I'd be looking forward to them.

Magnus Klaue - 04:34am Oct 22, 2002 PST(#106 of 118)

Bettina, I remember that there are a lot of passages in "Whose Body" about the 'character' of Jews, and the Jewish protagonist in this novel, the banker, is a good example for an antisemitist caricature. Besides, I believe that in "Unnatural Death", for example, there is a discussion with Whimsey about the habits of the "lower" races. But I don't think just about certain statements in her book, I think it could be shown that her portraits of women, for example, are really misogynist. The intelligent women in Sayers have always sexual comlexes and they are regarded as boring and unattractive (for example the painter in "Bellona", a typical "Blaustrumpf"). This is not only a question of time of publication. The novels of JD Carr or Ellery Queen during these years are much less narrow-minded. I believe it is more a question of 'class attitude'. Besides, you have to admit that her novels are really POOR as detective stories. The puzzle plots are almost non-existent (in "Bellona", for example, the main 'trick' with the dead body is explained in the middle of the book, and the rest is an irrelevancy). I think she wrote some clever short stories, but compared to Queen or Christie, she is no good whodunit author. I think she wanted to much, she tried to be a 'high-brow', intellectual author (which Christie never wanted to be), and that's why I don't like her books.

Sonia pargas - 02:30pm Oct 28, 2002 PST(#107 of 118)

Hi" I am sonia pargas . I have read many of your stories . They are interesting. I like your stories becouse they have alot of action in them.I am a realy smart parson and like reading.I lke reading becouse it is fun and it teaches you alot about life.Eading is fun to me becouse it tells me about oher peoples life"s and how they lived them.

LOVE, Sonia Pargas

Vanessa Knutsen - 05:18am Mar 19, 2003 PST(#108 of 118)

I think Sayers' mysteries are becoming fascinating "period pieces". By this, I mean that they, sort of like Dickens, will not sound as modern to new readers. Footnotes already are needed sometimes to explain some references. (For instance, in my favorite mystery of hers, "the Documents in the Case" there is an online guide explaining the quotes, backgrounds of the late 1920's early 1930's era.Popular novelists, current political figures, obscure literature references are explained.)

This transition to "period piece" in my mind does not mean Sayers books are any less good. But they are best when read with some understanding of the era she came from.

Her view of women is quite complex, and one senses, most particularly in Gaudy Night, that she is struggling with how to best define womens' roles. Her own life, and her great mysteries, and still- admired theological / philosophical books belie the claim she is anti-woman, tho. Understand she was born at the end of the Victorian era. Women were still getting basic rights such as the vote...and the right to education.

Note that it is good to read books 50 years or more older. Maybe they are a little offensive to us on some points, but they may enlighten us on other points our current culture misses...

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