February 8th, 2012


Rereading: Strong Poison and Gaudy Night

When all else fails, I read Dorothy Sayers. After all, to quote Peter Wimsey, “…she writes detective stories and in detective stories virtue is always triumphant. They’re the purest literature we have.” (Strong Poison, p. 115)

Having read her entire canon of mysteries, including the ill-judged posthumous one (which was apparently so bad that I can't find a link for it) put together by a woman with an insatiable need to make the people into people politically correct for our time*, I do not read for the solution to the puzzle. That said, solving puzzles soothes my soul. As a writer, I also appreciate the opportunity to see how the puzzle was constructed, where the clues are hidden, how it all fits together. Sometimes I see places where it is clear that different pieces were written at different times, particularly in Gaudy Night where the novel overshadows the mystery and Sayers clearly had to go back and force in some focus on the ostensible plot.

I also find Sayers’s voice congenial. I am also reading her translation of Chanson de Roland and enjoy her scholarly voice in the introduction and footnotes. However, Roland is not soothing, so I have set him aside for the mysteries.

If I complete my tasks for today, my reward is Busman’s Honeymoon.

*I do not condone casual racism, sexism, etc., of course, but it is foolish to pretend it did not exist. We are all people of our time and I am sure that future generations will look back on our presently invisible because “normal” biases as equally horrific.