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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Gospel in Dorothy L. Sayers: Selections from Her Novels, Plays, Letters, and Essays Dorothy L. Sayers, Carole Vanderhoof (Edited by), C. S. Lewi

I read Dorothy L. Sayers’s mysteries a long time ago, and enjoyed the stories, without realising what
Tortured consciences Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane actually had, or really noticing the Christian values of the books. This book shows how the Gospel shines in her mystery novels, cleverly interspersing the relevant extracts from her religious plays and essays, so that you can see how she wrote her beliefs into her novels.

In one example, Lord Peter sees an Anglican minister, troubled about whether he should bring a person guilty of hastening someone’s death to justice. The minister is much more practical and gives excellent advice, but doesn’t dwell on the situation like Lord Peter! He thinks to himself how scrupulous someone of Wimsey’s class, but how vague they are outside their ‘public school code’.


The essays and even the extracts from the plays can be convoluted and sometimes a bit difficult, but in many of them, Sayers shares her enthusiasm for Christianity. She points out that many people who sneer at it have it wrong. If they knew how interesting, exciting and dramatic the Creed really is, they might think again, but they ‘heartily dislike and despise Christianity without having the faintest notion what it is’.

She can also be extremely prescient. In one essay, she studies feminism, and although she agrees in women’s equality, she concludes that we should be treated as individuals in the end, and not put into categories. She argues that we shouldn’t fall into the ‘aggressively feminist “point of view” about everything’ because opposing one class perpetually to another can ‘split the foundations of the State and if the cleavage runs too deep, there remains no remedy but force and dictatorship’.  

This is worth reading if you want more of an insight into Sayers’s Christian beliefs and how she included them in her novels.

I received a free copy of this ebook from Edelweis in exchange for an honest review.

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