Talk:Dorothy L. Sayers

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Featured articleDorothy L. Sayers is a featured article; it (or a previous version of it) has been identified as one of the best articles produced by the Wikipedia community. Even so, if you can update or improve it, please do so.
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November 14, 2023Peer reviewReviewed
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Somerville and God, redux[edit]

Sniffing around a bit after reading Somerville College Chapel, I'm trying to work out exactly what Somerville's status n religion was: it sounds like they were founded with religion distinctly at arm's length (rather than being, like lots of Oxbridge colleges, resolutely Christian but equally determined not to pick a denominational side) -- they do have a chapel, but it's dedicated vaguely to God rather than specifically the Christian one; at the same time, it's inscribed with biblical verses and has a window dedicated to Jesus. However, my sense so far is that Somerville was still theoretically a Christian place.

Strictly speaking, we've buried a lead with instead of an Anglican college: there was, as we've established above, technically only one Anglican college to which S. could have applied. However, there were non-collegiate options available. Not sure that's a major problem, though it might perhaps be worth a footnote? UndercoverClassicist T·C 08:47, 8 February 2024 (UTC)[reply]


Of course I won't put this in the article, but I find the critics quoted on the question of antisemitism don't add up to a good interpretation of Sayers' remarks about Jews. I'll give some examples and then my analysis.

 Example 1:  "the description of Jewish lifestyle by Wimsey's mother:

... it must be very inconvenient what with not working on Saturdays and circumcising the poor little babies and everything depending on the new moon and that funny kind of meat they have with such a slang-sounding name and never being able to have bacon for breakfast." This is not antisemitic, it is an English upper class lady's ignorant puzzlement in the inimitable voice of the Dowager Duchess. There is nothing in it against Jews.

 (By the way, the quotation is from Sayers; Scowcroft is quoting Sayers, who of course is quoting Lady Helena.)
 Example 2:  "the stereotypical physical descriptions of Jewish characters in Whose Body?".  Yes, but it is not against Jews.
 Continuing, "the casual manner in which the racism is used is unpleasant".  As a Jew who loves Sayers' Wimsey novels, I agree, but I came to think  most of this is stereotyping and not very unpleasant.
 Example 3:  "Patterson observes that while Sayers reflected the prejudices of her time":  This is true although I think it would be more accurate to say "the stereotypes", as "prejudice" implies thinking less, which I don't see in most of her Jews.
 Example 4:  "they can soften the thrusts against the Jews if they like and if there are any."

My view is that Sayers had the stereotypes of her time and was completely unconscious of them (cf. Ex. 4). They are not pleasant but I think she meant well, and the strongest evidence is that Wimsey's good buddy Freddy Arbuthnot marries into a Jewish family and converts to Judaism. It's a financial family, of course, but that's who Freddy is; and there is no hint that Freddy is doing anything wrong by marriage and conversion. I would love it if someone who has the time and knowledge will find a critic who clearly understands this as stereotyping but not prejudice, and put appropriate quotations into the article.

It took me decades, much thought, and awareness of English insularity of that period, to see things this way and excuse Sayers, but it's my conclusion.

I'm sure some people will think the article already does enough. I suggest it should be more explicit. Zaslav (talk) 08:23, 9 February 2024 (UTC)[reply]

We follow the sources, as always, not any personal interpretation of Sayers's works. - SchroCat (talk) 08:26, 9 February 2024 (UTC)[reply]


Is there a reason that this article's infobox image features the images caption as part of the image. It looks quite clumsy, could a tighter crop not be used like the one on Spanish Wikipedia's page for her? sovietblobfish (talk) 18:28, 9 February 2024 (UTC)[reply]

Ah nevermind, I see in the archives this has been a topic of debate before and has something to do with copyright. sovietblobfish (talk) 18:30, 9 February 2024 (UTC)[reply]

Oxford comma[edit]

Given the subject, I suggest that the Oxford comma should be allowed. Should we also specify {{British English Oxford spelling}}? -- Verbarson  talkedits 10:21, 10 February 2024 (UTC)[reply]

No and no. Changing the type of English used in an article is frowned upon unless there is very good reason, and just because the subject went to an Oxford college, that's not a strong enough tie to change any article, let alone one that has gone through the FA review process. It won't improve the article or any reader's understanding of it; such cosmetic changes based on personal preference are pointless.
I'll only add that Sayers didn't use Oxford English in her own writing, so there's really no rationale for a change. - SchroCat (talk) 18:13, 10 February 2024 (UTC)[reply]