Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Pince-nez and Party Favors

[[E V E N T S]] * Today marks what would have been the 106th birthday of Dorothy L. Sayers, the British-born, Oxford-educated author-translator who wrote 11 novels and 21 short stories featuring amateur detective Lord Peter Wimsey. The tall, aristocratic, and garrulous Wimsey (whose middle name just happened to be “Death”) appeared first in Whose Body? (1923), which turns on the discovery of an unclothed corpse found in an architect’s bathtub. Sayers’ last Wimsey novel was Busman’s Honeymoon (1937), though two additions to the series--Thrones, Dominations (1998, based on an unfinished Sayers novel) and A Presumption of Death (2002)--were made by another English novelist, Jill Paton Walsh.

Although Lord Peter ranks among the most renowned, if eccentric figures in detective fiction (Sayers once described him as a mixture of Fred Astaire and P.G. Wodehouse’s Bertie Wooster), and his stories continue to sell well, even half a century after the author’s death in 1957, Sayers herself thought her translation of Dante’s Divina Commedia was her finest written work.

ADDENDUM: If you’ve never read Sayers’ Wimsey stories, now’s your golden opportunity. A complete, online version of Whose Body? can be found here.

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