When I returned home from last summer’s Circe Conference the first thing I did was pull out my old copy of The Mind of the Maker by Dorothy L. Sayers. I had not read that book in over 30 years which explains why I didn’t ‘get It’ at the time. Since then, Sayers has become one of my favorite authors. I love her Lord Peter Wimsey series but had never been tempted to return to The Mind of the Maker until The Circe Conference. I am guessing I am not the only one who gave this book another chance after hearing so many speakers refer to it and, to my delight, I was ready to understand much more than I did before. I dream of a day when I can grow up enough to grasp the whole.
Dorothy L. Sayers!! Bless her heart. This woman is often touted as a humanist but rarely ever a humorist and yet she has a wicked wit. When I was one and twenty, I failed to catch that. I read half a dozen Lord Peter books before I realized that often Dorothy was just having fun, the kind of fun that goes on in the stratosphere of a great mind who gets things that most of us miss. This fun is what makes reading Sayers so delightfully fresh even when we already know who-dunnit.
And truth be told, I had grown weary of Sayers over her much blasphemed essay on the trivium: The Lost Tools of Learning. Somebody missed the tongue-in-cheek in that one too but I imagine all the hoo-ha is not making Sayers roll over in her grave except to maybe laugh at us. She was not a woman to take herself seriously.
You could call The Mind of the Maker Sayers’ treatise on education. It is also her manifesto on writing and a book on the theology of the Trinity. The fact that she wove so many subjects around her theme tells us much about her great mind. As with all her books it is sprinkled with humor. I would say be on the lookout for the funny parts but I think maybe they are best enjoyed by coming upon them unawares.
In Gaudy Night Dorothy Sayers writes, “Do you find it easy to get drunk on words?”
“So easy that, to tell you the truth, I am seldom perfectly sober.”
Reading Dorothy Sayers is an experience like no other. Her command of English is more subtle than P.G. Wodehouse’s but just as profound. It is that subtlety that makes it so much fun. You just never know what will happen when you open up one of her books even if you have read it before. That is why, in the spirit of Alan Jacobs’s idea of reading for pleasure, I plan to reread The Mind of the Maker for the second time this year and then have another go-round of Lord Peter books. Therefore, if you run into me you will not be surprised to find me drunk on words. Can I offer you a drink?