The diversity of literary and creative output of Sayers reminds me of C.S. Lewis. Sayers wrote mysteries, plays for theatre, plays for radio, theological monographs and treatises, and worked in the classics – most notably in Dante. She engaged her culture; popular culture, literary culture, and academic culture; with a passion and “edge” that many people found uncomfortable – perhaps because she was a woman and women were not expected to act like that, to have that edge. While Lewis does not strike me as having an overt “edge”, his academic and literary understated “edge” was nevertheless there, sometimes breaking through in pointing out the absurdity of current thinking (see the Abolition of Man…I think his overt edge tends to show itself more in his articles and essays). Lewis, as Sayers, was steadfast and unmovable in not being swayed by economic, political, or other pragmatic considerations; hence his long tenure at Oxford without receiving a professorship – he wouldn’t dance to the popular tune and many of his colleagues found that offensive.
In trying to describe Sayers to my wife recently I said, “I think she had a lot in common with Joy Davidman Lewis. They could be blunt, they were intellectual, and they weren’t intimidated in a man’s world.” They were also, I could have added, somewhat eccentric vis-à-vis societal expectations.
Joy Lewis and Dorothy L. Sayers also knew relational heartache with men; however Joy, unlike Dorothy, was blessed in her last season of life with a husband, C.S. Lewis, who loved her deeply and cared for her tenderly; whereas Sayers lived in a marriage with shattered hopes and trust.
To be continued…