The Letters of Dorothy L. Sayers: 1937-1943, From Novelist to Playwright

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9780312181277: The Letters of Dorothy L. Sayers: 1937-1943, From Novelist to Playwright

The Letters of Dorothy L. Sayers: 1937-1943, From Novelist to Playwright

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Review:

Fans of Dorothy L. Sayers's fictional hero, Lord Peter Wimsey, who are hoping for his creator's insights into his character, the writing of mysteries, or the creation of literature in general will find little to satisfy their curiosity in this second volume of Sayers's letters from 1937 to 1943. In fact, there's virtually no mention of novels, or the writing of them, since Sayers had pretty much traded in Lord Peter for religious commentary and the theater by 1937. The Letters of Dorothy L. Sayers contains a great deal of correspondence concerning theology, Sayers's efforts in the theater, and even some letters to her illegitimate son, John Anthony.

From Kirkus Reviews:

Lord Peter Wimsey's creator turns her attentionand correspondenceto the Lord Himself. In this second volume of letters, Sayers switches roles from beloved detective novelist to an increasingly well-regarded if sometimes beleaguered Christian playwright. It's a testament to her strength as a writer and thinker that Sayers confines her new role not [to] prophet, but only sort of painstaking explainer of official dogma. These letters include lively, substantive arguments with religious leaders, politicians, collaborators, and detractors. The war years were productive ones for Sayers, who wrote five plays for the stage and others for radio, lectured, wrote articles, and published two books, all concerning Christianity. Sayers commendably turns her pen's power to the war itself, seizing the opportunity to connect religion with reality. On September 10, 1939, one week after Great Britain went to war with Germany, Sayers wrote to a Christian newsletter editor that the Church ought to ``say something loud and definite'' about what's happening in the world. She's at her finest when she corrects distortions of her work and responds to sincere inquiries, which in turn inspire thoughtful explication. With humility, intelligence, clarity, and an occasional barb, she eschews ignorance. Her task is to imaginatively explain Christian doctrine, which, she reminds her correspondents, isn't her creation: ``I didn't think it was `my' theology exactly; I thought it was the Church's.'' The price of this isn't zealotry but monotony. With the exception of a scattered reference to her husband and some letters to her adolescent ``unacknowledged'' son, her letters focus almost exclusively on Christianity. Interestingly, the mystery surrounding her son gets solved, though not in her lettersReynolds appends to this volume particulars about Sayers's son, thus filling in a gap in his biography Dorothy L. Sayers: Her Life and Soul (1993). Followers of Wimsey's sleuthing may not enjoy following Sayers's prolix letters on Christianity. (8 pages b&w photos, not seen) -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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