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Re: "The Case of Miss Dorothy Sayers" (1937)

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  • Vegetableduck
    This criticism of Gaudy Night got a lot of attention in its day. As I write in Masters of the Humdrum Mystery there were two camps opposed to Gaudy Night:
    Message 1 of 6 , Nov 19, 2012
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      This criticism of Gaudy Night got a lot of attention in its day. As I write in Masters of the Humdrum Mystery there were two camps opposed to Gaudy Night: mystery traditionalists who hated its de-emphasis on mystery and highbrow critics who thought it a failure as a serious novel. Of course it was a big seller, so Sayers had the last laugh, one could argue!

      Curt

      --- In GAdetection@yahoogroups.com, "miketooney49" <miketooney49@...> wrote:
      >
      > More of an attack than a critique.
      >
      > GAUDY NIGHT. Gollancz. 1935. 8/6.
      >
      > <http://gadetection.pbworks.com/w/page/7930643/Gaudy%20Night>
      >
      > BUSMAN'S HONEYMOON. 1937. Gollancz. 8/6.
      >
      > <http://gadetection.pbworks.com/w/page/7931476/Sayers%2C%20Dorothy%20L>
      >
      > 'Scrutiny,' December 1937, "The Case of Miss
      > Dorothy Sayers," by Q. D. Leavis:
      >
      > <http://www.unz.org/Pub/Scrutiny-1937dec-00334?View=PDFPages>
      >
      > Excerpts:
      >
      > "With the above two novels Miss Sayers stepped out of
      > the ranks of detective writers into that of the best-seller
      > novelists, and into some esteem as a literary figure among
      > the educated reading public.
      >
      > "Only D. H. Lawrence could have reviewed these novels
      > adequately. I confine myself to some incidental
      > observations."
      >
      > "The hero is of course Harriet's suitor and ultimate husband,
      > and here again I think Miss Sayers has overstepped the limits
      > of what even a best-seller's public can be expected to
      > swallow without suspicion. Lord Peter is not only of ducal
      > stock and all that a Ouida hero was plus modern sophistication
      > and modern accomplishments -- such as being adored by his
      > men during the Great War and able to talk like a P. G. Wode-
      > house moron -- he is also a distinguished scholar in history,
      > a celebrated cricketer, an authority on antiques, a musician, a
      > brilliant wit, a diplomat on whom the F.O. leans during inter-
      > national crises, a wide and deep reader ..."
      >
      > <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ouida>
      >
      > "This odd conviction that she is in a different class from
      > Edgar Wallace or Ethel M. Dell apparently depends on four
      > factors in these novels. They have an appearance of literari-
      > ness; they profess to treat profound emotions and to be
      > concerned with values; they generally or incidentally affect
      > to deal in large issues and general problems (e.g. 'Gaudy
      > Night' in so far as it is anything but a bundle of best-selling
      > old clothes is supposed to answer the question whether
      > academic life produces abnormality in women); and they
      > appear to give an inside view of some modes of life that
      > share the appeal of the unknown for many readers, particu-
      > larly the life of the older universities."
      >
      > <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethel_M._Dell>
      >
      > "... Miss Sayers' fiction, when it isn't mere detective-story
      > of an unimpressive kind, is exactly that: stale, second-hand,
      > hollow. Her wit consists in literary references. Her deliberate
      > indecency is not shocking or amusing, it is odious merely as
      > so much Restoration Comedy is, because the breath of life
      > was never in it and it is only the emanation of a 'social' mind
      > wanting to raise a snigger ..."
      >
      > <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Restoration_comedy>
      >
      > "Are her vices unique and personal? We all know they are not,
      > experience confirms what her style of writing suggests, that
      > she is representative. That inane wit, that unflagging sense of
      > humour, those epigrams, that affectation of unconventionality,
      > that determined sociality, what a familiar chord they strike."
      >
      > "... if the younger generation read her novels with pleasure as
      > she alleges then the higher education of women is in a sadder
      > way than any feminist could bear to contemplate."
      >
    • Mr Molesack
      Both Queenie Leavis and her husband F R Leavis were important figures at one point, at least in the world of literary criticism. Obviously reading novels was
      Message 2 of 6 , Nov 19, 2012
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        Both Queenie Leavis and her husband F R Leavis were important figures at one point, at least in the world of literary criticism. Obviously reading novels was something that you did in order to inform your sensibilities rather than because you wanted to be entertained. Maddeningly for them, most of us carried on wanting to be entertained, so you can understand why they hated Sayers. Probably the best comment I can make comes from a BBC play about Leavis from 1991, where one of the characters describes the young Q D Leavis as 'about as much fun as a wet weekend in Cleethorpes'.

        --- In GAdetection@yahoogroups.com, "Vegetableduck" <praed_street@...> wrote:
        >
        > This criticism of Gaudy Night got a lot of attention in its day. As I write in Masters of the Humdrum Mystery there were two camps opposed to Gaudy Night: mystery traditionalists who hated its de-emphasis on mystery and highbrow critics who thought it a failure as a serious novel. Of course it was a big seller, so Sayers had the last laugh, one could argue!
        >
        > Curt
        >
        > --- In GAdetection@yahoogroups.com, "miketooney49" <miketooney49@> wrote:
        > >
        > > More of an attack than a critique.
        > >
        > > GAUDY NIGHT. Gollancz. 1935. 8/6.
        > >
        > > <http://gadetection.pbworks.com/w/page/7930643/Gaudy%20Night>
        > >
        > > BUSMAN'S HONEYMOON. 1937. Gollancz. 8/6.
        > >
        > > <http://gadetection.pbworks.com/w/page/7931476/Sayers%2C%20Dorothy%20L>
        > >
        > > 'Scrutiny,' December 1937, "The Case of Miss
        > > Dorothy Sayers," by Q. D. Leavis:
        > >
        > > <http://www.unz.org/Pub/Scrutiny-1937dec-00334?View=PDFPages>
        > >
        > > Excerpts:
        > >
        > > "With the above two novels Miss Sayers stepped out of
        > > the ranks of detective writers into that of the best-seller
        > > novelists, and into some esteem as a literary figure among
        > > the educated reading public.
        > >
        > > "Only D. H. Lawrence could have reviewed these novels
        > > adequately. I confine myself to some incidental
        > > observations."
        > >
        > > "The hero is of course Harriet's suitor and ultimate husband,
        > > and here again I think Miss Sayers has overstepped the limits
        > > of what even a best-seller's public can be expected to
        > > swallow without suspicion. Lord Peter is not only of ducal
        > > stock and all that a Ouida hero was plus modern sophistication
        > > and modern accomplishments -- such as being adored by his
        > > men during the Great War and able to talk like a P. G. Wode-
        > > house moron -- he is also a distinguished scholar in history,
        > > a celebrated cricketer, an authority on antiques, a musician, a
        > > brilliant wit, a diplomat on whom the F.O. leans during inter-
        > > national crises, a wide and deep reader ..."
        > >
        > > <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ouida>
        > >
        > > "This odd conviction that she is in a different class from
        > > Edgar Wallace or Ethel M. Dell apparently depends on four
        > > factors in these novels. They have an appearance of literari-
        > > ness; they profess to treat profound emotions and to be
        > > concerned with values; they generally or incidentally affect
        > > to deal in large issues and general problems (e.g. 'Gaudy
        > > Night' in so far as it is anything but a bundle of best-selling
        > > old clothes is supposed to answer the question whether
        > > academic life produces abnormality in women); and they
        > > appear to give an inside view of some modes of life that
        > > share the appeal of the unknown for many readers, particu-
        > > larly the life of the older universities."
        > >
        > > <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethel_M._Dell>
        > >
        > > "... Miss Sayers' fiction, when it isn't mere detective-story
        > > of an unimpressive kind, is exactly that: stale, second-hand,
        > > hollow. Her wit consists in literary references. Her deliberate
        > > indecency is not shocking or amusing, it is odious merely as
        > > so much Restoration Comedy is, because the breath of life
        > > was never in it and it is only the emanation of a 'social' mind
        > > wanting to raise a snigger ..."
        > >
        > > <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Restoration_comedy>
        > >
        > > "Are her vices unique and personal? We all know they are not,
        > > experience confirms what her style of writing suggests, that
        > > she is representative. That inane wit, that unflagging sense of
        > > humour, those epigrams, that affectation of unconventionality,
        > > that determined sociality, what a familiar chord they strike."
        > >
        > > "... if the younger generation read her novels with pleasure as
        > > she alleges then the higher education of women is in a sadder
        > > way than any feminist could bear to contemplate."
        > >
        >
      • curt evans
        Queenie Leavis does seem to have felt there was something disturbingly decadent about reading a novel purely for fun! Curt From: Mr Molesack Sent: Tuesday,
        Message 3 of 6 , Nov 19, 2012
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          Queenie Leavis does seem to have felt there was something disturbingly decadent about reading a novel purely for fun!

          Curt

          From: Mr Molesack
          Sent: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 12:50 AM
          To: GAdetection@yahoogroups.com
          Subject: [GAdetection] Re: "The Case of Miss Dorothy Sayers" (1937)


          Both Queenie Leavis and her husband F R Leavis were important figures at one point, at least in the world of literary criticism. Obviously reading novels was something that you did in order to inform your sensibilities rather than because you wanted to be entertained. Maddeningly for them, most of us carried on wanting to be entertained, so you can understand why they hated Sayers. Probably the best comment I can make comes from a BBC play about Leavis from 1991, where one of the characters describes the young Q D Leavis as 'about as much fun as a wet weekend in Cleethorpes'.

          --- In mailto:GAdetection%40yahoogroups.com, "Vegetableduck" <praed_street@...> wrote:
          >
          > This criticism of Gaudy Night got a lot of attention in its day. As I write in Masters of the Humdrum Mystery there were two camps opposed to Gaudy Night: mystery traditionalists who hated its de-emphasis on mystery and highbrow critics who thought it a failure as a serious novel. Of course it was a big seller, so Sayers had the last laugh, one could argue!
          >
          > Curt
          >
          > --- In mailto:GAdetection%40yahoogroups.com, "miketooney49" <miketooney49@> wrote:
          > >
          > > More of an attack than a critique.
          > >
          > > GAUDY NIGHT. Gollancz. 1935. 8/6.
          > >
          > > <http://gadetection.pbworks.com/w/page/7930643/Gaudy%20Night>
          > >
          > > BUSMAN'S HONEYMOON. 1937. Gollancz. 8/6.
          > >
          > > <http://gadetection.pbworks.com/w/page/7931476/Sayers%2C%20Dorothy%20L>
          > >
          > > 'Scrutiny,' December 1937, "The Case of Miss
          > > Dorothy Sayers," by Q. D. Leavis:
          > >
          > > <http://www.unz.org/Pub/Scrutiny-1937dec-00334?View=PDFPages>
          > >
          > > Excerpts:
          > >
          > > "With the above two novels Miss Sayers stepped out of
          > > the ranks of detective writers into that of the best-seller
          > > novelists, and into some esteem as a literary figure among
          > > the educated reading public.
          > >
          > > "Only D. H. Lawrence could have reviewed these novels
          > > adequately. I confine myself to some incidental
          > > observations."
          > >
          > > "The hero is of course Harriet's suitor and ultimate husband,
          > > and here again I think Miss Sayers has overstepped the limits
          > > of what even a best-seller's public can be expected to
          > > swallow without suspicion. Lord Peter is not only of ducal
          > > stock and all that a Ouida hero was plus modern sophistication
          > > and modern accomplishments -- such as being adored by his
          > > men during the Great War and able to talk like a P. G. Wode-
          > > house moron -- he is also a distinguished scholar in history,
          > > a celebrated cricketer, an authority on antiques, a musician, a
          > > brilliant wit, a diplomat on whom the F.O. leans during inter-
          > > national crises, a wide and deep reader ..."
          > >
          > > <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ouida>
          > >
          > > "This odd conviction that she is in a different class from
          > > Edgar Wallace or Ethel M. Dell apparently depends on four
          > > factors in these novels. They have an appearance of literari-
          > > ness; they profess to treat profound emotions and to be
          > > concerned with values; they generally or incidentally affect
          > > to deal in large issues and general problems (e.g. 'Gaudy
          > > Night' in so far as it is anything but a bundle of best-selling
          > > old clothes is supposed to answer the question whether
          > > academic life produces abnormality in women); and they
          > > appear to give an inside view of some modes of life that
          > > share the appeal of the unknown for many readers, particu-
          > > larly the life of the older universities."
          > >
          > > <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethel_M._Dell>
          > >
          > > "... Miss Sayers' fiction, when it isn't mere detective-story
          > > of an unimpressive kind, is exactly that: stale, second-hand,
          > > hollow. Her wit consists in literary references. Her deliberate
          > > indecency is not shocking or amusing, it is odious merely as
          > > so much Restoration Comedy is, because the breath of life
          > > was never in it and it is only the emanation of a 'social' mind
          > > wanting to raise a snigger ..."
          > >
          > > <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Restoration_comedy>
          > >
          > > "Are her vices unique and personal? We all know they are not,
          > > experience confirms what her style of writing suggests, that
          > > she is representative. That inane wit, that unflagging sense of
          > > humour, those epigrams, that affectation of unconventionality,
          > > that determined sociality, what a familiar chord they strike."
          > >
          > > "... if the younger generation read her novels with pleasure as
          > > she alleges then the higher education of women is in a sadder
          > > way than any feminist could bear to contemplate."
          > >
          >





          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Allan Griffith
          ... The Leavis s had a lot to do with making the world of literary criticism humourless and entirely cut off from the real world. Al
          Message 4 of 6 , Nov 20, 2012
          • 0 Attachment
            > 1a. Re: "The Case of Miss Dorothy Sayers" (1937)
            > Posted by: "Mr Molesack" mr.molesack@... mr.molesack
            > Date: Mon Nov 19, 2012 10:50 pm ((PST))
            >
            > Both Queenie Leavis and her husband F R Leavis were important figures at one point, at least in the world of literary criticism. Obviously reading novels was something that you did in order to inform your sensibilities rather than because you wanted to be entertained. Maddeningly for them, most of us carried on wanting to be entertained, so you can understand why they hated Sayers. Probably the best comment I can make comes from a BBC play about Leavis from 1991, where one of the characters describes the young Q D Leavis as 'about as much fun as a wet weekend in Cleethorpes'.

            The Leavis's had a lot to do with making the world of literary
            criticism humourless and entirely cut off from the real world.

            Al
          • Françoise Thomas-Eschaux de Maisons
            Oh, I do agree with that! Françoise ________________________________ De : curt evans À : GAdetection@yahoogroups.com Envoyé le
            Message 5 of 6 , Nov 21, 2012
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              Oh, I do agree with that!

              Françoise


              ________________________________
              De : curt evans <praed_street@...>
              À : GAdetection@yahoogroups.com
              Envoyé le : Mardi 20 novembre 2012 8h01
              Objet : Re: [GAdetection] Re: "The Case of Miss Dorothy Sayers" (1937)


               
              Queenie Leavis does seem to have felt there was something disturbingly decadent about reading a novel purely for fun!

              Curt

              From: Mr Molesack
              Sent: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 12:50 AM
              To: GAdetection@yahoogroups.com
              Subject: [GAdetection] Re: "The Case of Miss Dorothy Sayers" (1937)

              Both Queenie Leavis and her husband F R Leavis were important figures at one point, at least in the world of literary criticism. Obviously reading novels was something that you did in order to inform your sensibilities rather than because you wanted to be entertained. Maddeningly for them, most of us carried on wanting to be entertained, so you can understand why they hated Sayers. Probably the best comment I can make comes from a BBC play about Leavis from 1991, where one of the characters describes the young Q D Leavis as 'about as much fun as a wet weekend in Cleethorpes'.

              --- In mailto:GAdetection%40yahoogroups.com, "Vegetableduck" <praed_street@...> wrote:
              >
              > This criticism of Gaudy Night got a lot of attention in its day. As I write in Masters of the Humdrum Mystery there were two camps opposed to Gaudy Night: mystery traditionalists who hated its de-emphasis on mystery and highbrow critics who thought it a failure as a serious novel. Of course it was a big seller, so Sayers had the last laugh, one could argue!
              >
              > Curt
              >
              > --- In mailto:GAdetection%40yahoogroups.com, "miketooney49" <miketooney49@> wrote:
              > >
              > > More of an attack than a critique.
              > >
              > > GAUDY NIGHT. Gollancz. 1935. 8/6.
              > >
              > > <http://gadetection.pbworks.com/w/page/7930643/Gaudy%20Night>
              > >
              > > BUSMAN'S HONEYMOON. 1937. Gollancz. 8/6.
              > >
              > > <http://gadetection.pbworks.com/w/page/7931476/Sayers%2C%20Dorothy%20L>
              > >
              > > 'Scrutiny,' December 1937, "The Case of Miss
              > > Dorothy Sayers," by Q. D. Leavis:
              > >
              > > <http://www.unz.org/Pub/Scrutiny-1937dec-00334?View=PDFPages>
              > >
              > > Excerpts:
              > >
              > > "With the above two novels Miss Sayers stepped out of
              > > the ranks of detective writers into that of the best-seller
              > > novelists, and into some esteem as a literary figure among
              > > the educated reading public.
              > >
              > > "Only D. H. Lawrence could have reviewed these novels
              > > adequately. I confine myself to some incidental
              > > observations."
              > >
              > > "The hero is of course Harriet's suitor and ultimate husband,
              > > and here again I think Miss Sayers has overstepped the limits
              > > of what even a best-seller's public can be expected to
              > > swallow without suspicion. Lord Peter is not only of ducal
              > > stock and all that a Ouida hero was plus modern sophistication
              > > and modern accomplishments -- such as being adored by his
              > > men during the Great War and able to talk like a P. G. Wode-
              > > house moron -- he is also a distinguished scholar in history,
              > > a celebrated cricketer, an authority on antiques, a musician, a
              > > brilliant wit, a diplomat on whom the F.O. leans during inter-
              > > national crises, a wide and deep reader ..."
              > >
              > > <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ouida>
              > >
              > > "This odd conviction that she is in a different class from
              > > Edgar Wallace or Ethel M. Dell apparently depends on four
              > > factors in these novels. They have an appearance of literari-
              > > ness; they profess to treat profound emotions and to be
              > > concerned with values; they generally or incidentally affect
              > > to deal in large issues and general problems (e.g. 'Gaudy
              > > Night' in so far as it is anything but a bundle of best-selling
              > > old clothes is supposed to answer the question whether
              > > academic life produces abnormality in women); and they
              > > appear to give an inside view of some modes of life that
              > > share the appeal of the unknown for many readers, particu-
              > > larly the life of the older universities."
              > >
              > > <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethel_M._Dell>
              > >
              > > "... Miss Sayers' fiction, when it isn't mere detective-story
              > > of an unimpressive kind, is exactly that: stale, second-hand,
              > > hollow. Her wit consists in literary references. Her deliberate
              > > indecency is not shocking or amusing, it is odious merely as
              > > so much Restoration Comedy is, because the breath of life
              > > was never in it and it is only the emanation of a 'social' mind
              > > wanting to raise a snigger ..."
              > >
              > > <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Restoration_comedy>
              > >
              > > "Are her vices unique and personal? We all know they are not,
              > > experience confirms what her style of writing suggests, that
              > > she is representative. That inane wit, that unflagging sense of
              > > humour, those epigrams, that affectation of unconventionality,
              > > that determined sociality, what a familiar chord they strike."
              > >
              > > "... if the younger generation read her novels with pleasure as
              > > she alleges then the higher education of women is in a sadder
              > > way than any feminist could bear to contemplate."
              > >
              >

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