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Dorothy L. Sayers

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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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Vanessa Knutsen - 04:18am 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...

Lorelei Q - 09:45pm May 8, 2003 PST(#109 of 118)

Hello: Has anyone picked up "A Presumption of Death," the new Wimsey novel by Jill Paton Walsh? I was underwhelmed by "Thrones, Dominations," but have read better reviews this time around ... yet would like another opinion before dropping my $25 on a dud. Thanks!

LeDon Young - 08:20pm Jun 4, 2003 PST(#110 of 118)

Good evening- I am a Dorothy L. Sayers fan, having read everything I could find. I read "Thrones, Dominations" and was very disappointed. I was given "A Presumption of Death" by a friend who know of my devotion to Sayers. Just as with "Thrones..." it is a disapointment. Sayers books may be period pieces, however, she has excellent character development and the young lady who is takeup the mantel lacks that skill. In short-don't waste the $24.

stikeforce - 03:20am Jul 3, 2003 PST(#111 of 118)
"It's a cult... they worship blue oysters"... MST3K 'The Final Sacrifice'

it has to be hard to write period pieces when one didn't live in that period. that's one of the reasons i don't read the "new" holmes stories. i didn't even realize there was a new wimsey novel. wasn't the whole point of "thrones, dominations" to finish an incomplete novel? what is the excuse for a new one? i found ya'lls conversation about the racism and pseudo-intellectualism interesting. the latin does get dense. i thought is was just me not understanding it lol. otherwise i really like the wimsey novels. christie seems to have the same problems with race, or nationalism anyway. heaven knows, the majority of characters despise americans. but calling these writers racist without taking into account the era they were written in stikes me as the same argument for banning huck finn etc. from school libraries. (watch it stikeforce, your southern, liberal tendancies are showing :) try being a southern liberal, talk about HARD going... rotflmao

Morrison Whortleberry - 01:51am Jul 17, 2003 PST(#112 of 118)

I may be joining this discussion rather late but I do feel the need to respond to some of the comments made here. First, the point that DLS is boring, with overstrung plotlines from little foundations. Nevermind that this is an astonishing achievement in itself, but the devil is in the detail. Meticulously built-up and never irrelevant. True the pace is slow at times, but deliberately so, it makes you slow down when reading it, and savour the process.

Next, the supposed pretenciousness. Yes, maybe she is a little, particularly with the quotes she starts her chapters with or some of the assumptions she presumes her readers to go along with her on. But her audience at the time thought nothing strange of affected about this. It says someting more about our own generation's drawbacks in certain regards. And above all else, is not her erudition justified by her own deservingness of it - she put the work in, shame to waste the effort by hiding it.

The race relations business is rather vague and obscure in referances above, and is not something I recall taking away from the novels after reading them. I do recall someting about Jews and money-lenders but this is so common-place for the time that it is barely worth remarking on. Besides, when one comes to Sayers, one expects the dialogue to hold centre-place - if it is the characters having the discussions and making the disparaging comments, DLS is reprting them, not saying such things herself. Treat it as a document of the time.

The comments on her portrayal of women have already been answered.

She is not a whodunit writer but she never tries to be, setting out along a different path. The interest is in the means, or the motive, not the actual villain, who is usually obvious. This is a different kind of puzzle, and one often neglected by other writers. Celebrate the diversity!

Boy, did I go off on one there...


Morrison Whortleberry

kattt - 12:02am Aug 19, 2004 PST(#113 of 118)

has anyone noticed that lord peter wimsey is rather likme the scarlet pimpernel?

Diane Lund - 09:54am Feb 12, 2005 PST(#114 of 118)

Actually yes, he is a bit like the scarlet pimpernel. People see him as a silly excentric nobleman and not as the intelligent creature he is.

I'm usually not that fond of reading detective stories, but Dorothy L. Sayers has become one of my favourite authors. I suppose it's because her novels aren't just about the crime and how to solve a case. It's the characters I find interesting.

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