Tuesday, February 10, 2015

“Advanced old women”: A warning



When I spend extended time abroad, as in this current two-month trip to Bolivia, part of my strategy for relaxation and relief is reading. My Kindle lets me bring along a whole library, and part of the fun of preparation is choosing what new books to include.
This time my repertoire includes two murder mysteries by Dorothy Sayers, friend of C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams and J.R.R. Tolkien, and member of the Inklings, the literary group these remarkable writers formed in the first half of the 20th century.
Sayers’ mysteries are not overtly Christian, other than the fact the justice is always served, and right and wrong are clearly delineated (eg., murder is always wrong.) What I especially enjoy is the person of Lord Peter Wimsey, a staunch member of England’s upper crust, and a brilliant amateur detective. He works through impeccable logic to puzzle through the pieces of a mysterious crime, but he depends on intuition to arrive at the aha! moment that actually solves the riddle. He reminds me most of Chesterton’s Father Brown, the priest who also is a brilliant amateur detective. And just as dryly funny.
Lord Peter Wimsey (great name!) gives off these wonderful asides of wisdom as he goes about his crime solving business. One of these especially struck my fancy (interesting phrase) last week. Wimsey is reflecting on his mother, an extremely upper-crusty Duchess, and he observes that, “Time and trouble will tame an advanced young woman, but an advanced old woman is uncontrollable by any earthly force,” (from Clouds of Witnesses).
I wonder if Sayers was writing about herself? At this time in my life, the idea of “an uncontrollable advanced old woman” appeals to me. Is this something to aim towards? Maybe. Maybe not.
At any rate, thank you again, Dorothy Sayers. Something to think about.

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