All of the Sayers quotes for this week were from a single book, Gaudy Night. I didn’t plan it that way; I was looking for the quote about the chessmen and was overwhelmed by twitter-sized quotes. So I just stuck with the one book, close to the last of the books about Lord Peter, and in fact close to the end of Dorothy Sayers’ mystery writing career.

Dorothy Sayers was a Christian scholar, one of the first women to receive a degree from Oxford, and the story is set in a fictitious women’s college in that University. Lord Peter has been wooing Harriet (a mystery writer) ever since her first appearance in Strong Poison, and she also played a pivotal role in Have His Carcase. This book is as much a romance as a mystery.

Thursday: “The first thing a principle does is to kill somebody.” One of the things Lord Peter says to Harriet that she later recalls when she is realizing that he doesn’t want static stability.

Friday: “The confidante has a very heavy and thankless task.” Harriet to Miss Briggs, who has been trying to cope with Violet Cattermole’s problems.

Saturday: “This goes to prove that even minor poetry may have its practical purposes.” Harriet has jotted down the first eight lines of a sonnet in her notebook of the case, simply because it was the only paper immediately to hand when the lines came into her head. Later, when Lord Peter returns the notebook, he has added the sestet. The completed sonnet reads:

“Here then at home, by no more storms distrest,
Folding laborious hands we sit, wings furled.
Here in close perfume lies the rose-leaf curled,
Here the sun stands and knows not east or west.
Here no tide runs; we have come, last and best,
From the wide zone in dizzying circles hurled
To that still center where the spinning world
Sleeps on its axis, to the heart of rest.

“Lay on thy whips, O Love, that we upright
Poised on the perilous point, in no lax bed
May sleep, as tension at the verberant core
Of music sleeps; for if thou spare to smite,
Staggering, we stoop, stooping, fall dumb and dead,
And dying so, sleep our sweet sleep no more.”

Again, the part Lord Peter has added gives Harriet insight into his character. Challenge to the reader—find the definition of “verberant.” (Yes, it is a word.)

Sunday: “I loved them, and you gave them to me.” Harriet to Peter, when the carved ivory chessmen he gave her are destroyed. His response: “‘You gave them to me, and I loved them’ is all right, but ‘I loved them, and you gave them to me’ is irreparable.”

Monday: “What would that matter, if it made a good book?” Lord Peter to Harriet, after suggesting some changes to make one of her characters more human. (The suggested changes would require that (1) the whole book be rewritten, and (2) Harriet bare her soul to a degree she has been avoiding ever since being tried for murder.)

Tuesday: “The protective male? He was being about as protective as a can-opener.” Harriet’s response to Lord Peter’s suggestion.

Wednesday: “Guiltily, he reached for the damaged tissues and began Healing the injury.” Bowling. From Homecoming. Snowy has been conditioned from birth that his odd talents are both wrong and could get him killed if anyone found out about them.

Next week I’ll go back to random science fiction and fantasy, though I may use classics or other genres in the future.

Advertisements