Vera Findlater has violated her integrity in an attempt to shield her friend.The pun on the name is obvious: Vera, truth, finds out too late that her relationship was out of proportion.In Begin Here, a wartime essay on aspects of peace, she defines freedom as it was understood in medieval England: “Freedom . In the essay “Creed or Chaos,” she stresses that it is fatal to allow people to “suppose that Christianity is only a mode of feeling . The idea of maintaining right relationships with God, one’s neighbor and oneself is an important theme, for instance, in her third novel, Unnatural Death (1927).
To countless students, she was the scholar and translator who made Dante’s Divine Comedy not only readable but enjoyable, and surprisingly relevant to their own era.
At the time of her death in 1957, Sayers’s writings, aside from her best novels and short stories, were not well known outside England, but in the past ten years, particularly in the United States, her reputation as a Christian humanist has grown steadily. Sayers was the only child of Henry Sayers, headmaster of the Cathedral Choir School, Oxford, and Helen Leigh Sayers, great-niece of Percival Leigh, “the Professor” of Punch.
This theme of integrity in personal relationships is important in the novels that develop the romance between Lord Peter and Harriet Vane.
Strong Poison (1930) opens with Harriet on trial for the murder of her former lover.
This article appeared in the Christian Century, November 14, 1979, p. Copyright by the Christian Century Foundation and used by permission.
Dorothy Sayers Essays
Current articles and subscription information can be found at Over the dean’s protests that most wives would not give a pin about the loss of their husband’s professional honor, Miss Chilperic shyly suggests that if a wife did accept such dishonesty, it would be tantamount to living on immoral earnings.This comment delights Lord Peter, who declares that if people ever come around to accepting this standard of honesty -- that is, if they ever learn to value the integrity of the mind equally with that of the body -- a social revolution will take place. Harriet could stand free and equal with Peter, since in that sphere she had never been false to her own standards.Work, she says, is not what one does to live, but the thing one lives to do. She understood the advertising milieu well, for in the ‘20s and ‘30s, while writing her novels, she had been employed as a copywriter in just such an advertising agency, Benson’s in London.“It is, or should be, the full expression of the worker’s faculties, the thing in which he finds spiritual, mental, and bodily satisfaction, and the medium in which he offers himself to God.” She continues: We should ask of an enterprise, not “will it pay? In this novel, Lord Peter dashes off clever copy that delights his colleagues at Pym’s advertising agency without letting his unsuspecting associates know that he is actually hired to discover who is carrying on some nefarious scheme under cover of the agency. Upon my soul, I sometimes wonder why the long-suffering public doesn’t rise up and slay us.The Church’s approach to an intelligent carpenter is usually confined to exhorting him not to be drunk and disorderly in his leisure hours, and to come to church on Sundays.by Mary Brian Durkin Sister Durkin is associate professor of English at Rosary College, River Forest, Illinois.While employed at Blackwell’s, Oxford, she published two small volumes of verse, Op. Settling in London, she secured work as a copywriter in an advertising firm, and in her free time finished her first novel, Whose Body?After 12 novels and several collections of short stories, she announced that she intended to stop writing fiction and to turn to more serious subjects.Someone suggests that perhaps the student felt he had to sacrifice his professional integrity so that he could secure his degree, desperately needed if he were to support a wife and family.Another don questions: If a wife knew that her home and financial security were purchased at the cost of her husband’s integrity, would her reaction be one of dismay and guilt?