Thursday, June 05, 2014

Dorothy's rapier, etc.

Dorothy Sayers at The Lapidary Craft
The English language has a deceptive air of simplicity: so have some little frocks; but they are not the kind that any fool can run up in half an hour with a machine. . . . [English] is a rich, noble, flexible, and sensitive because it combines an enormous vocabulary of mixed origin with a superlatively civilized and almost wholly analytical syntax. This means that we have not merely to learn a great number of words with their subtle distinctions of meaning and association, but to put them together in an order determined only by a logical process of thought. There is no good English with clear thinking, and (as some cynic has justly observed) “most people would die sooner than think, and most of them do.” - Dorothy Sayers
Recommending "Dorothy Sayers on Writing" at The Lapidary Craft.
Hat tip to The Prufrock News

Dorothy Sayers on men and women

I enjoyed the Lapidary Craft quotes so much that I'm tossing in another one by Dorothy Sayers... I've never read much Sayers, aside from Gaudy Night, so perhaps I ought to put her on the list.
A man once asked me ... how I managed in my books to write such natural conversation between men when they were by themselves. Was I, by any chance, a member of a large, mixed family with a lot of male friends? I replied that, on the contrary, I was an only child and had practically never seen or spoken to any men of my own age till I was about twenty-five. "Well," said the man, "I shouldn't have expected a woman (meaning me) to have been able to make it so convincing." I replied that I had coped with this difficult problem by making my men talk, as far as possible, like ordinary human beings. This aspect of the matter seemed to surprise the other speaker; he said no more, but took it away to chew it over. One of these days it may quite likely occur to him that women, as well as men, when left to themselves, talk very much like human beings also. ― Dorothy L. Sayers, Are Women Human? Astute and Witty Essays on the Role of Women in Society 
What I am doing

detail, proposed cover art by Clive Hicks-Jenkins
Drudging, ferrying, writing when I can.  I have been noodling around with tiny stories, which range in topic from cephalopods to celebrity fans (and do not always begin with "c"), but what I really need to do is finish work that has been sitting around in "almost" state for a year or more, waiting for me. I'm making a resolution to finish up three book manuscripts that need to be tidied and in two cases re-ordered--time-consuming but not difficult tasks. I also need to work on fall events for Glimmerglass, as I have done nothing about that matter! And I need to think about the summer workshop at Antioch.

Notes on my recent books, #1

Rose Kelleher, poet (Maryland) at Amazon. On A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage: I hope this book receives the recognition it deserves. I was going to say it was "beautifully written," but that seems superficial somehow, so I'll say it's ~masterfully~ written. Youmans is a poet, true, but the poetry here is used in the service of the story, to bring scenes and characters to life; it's not decoration. I'm amazed at Youman's ability to inhabit another world so fully, as if she'd been reincarnated and were remembering it all firsthand. As others have noted, you want to linger over the descriptions and at the same time move forward to see what happens next.


  1. I like what Sayers says about the English languages and sentences. My most recent posting at Beyond Eastrod might have appealed to her. Also, there is this: you need to find more to do in your life as your schedule seems somewhat relaxed. Thank goodness I do not have such a schedule. Enjoy your leisure-filled day.

    1. Yes, I do too. Shall fly by and see what you are up to later on. In the middle of laundry and room-quarrying...

      I am trying to be more organized. It seems for the last month that I've slipped somehow--feel time sifting through my fingers with not enough done. Agh!

  2. Very much enjoyed the passage about women's humanity. I wonder if that fellow ever caught on. Doubt it.

    1. Oh, I like to think that he did, as the thought silenced him.


Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.