Women, Work and WimseynJames Brabazon: Dorothy L. Sayers;nCharles Scribner’s Sons; New York.nby Keith Bowern«1 1 like the Gargoyle best,” Dorothy L.nSayers wrote in a poem from her midteens.nShe continues, “… while thenparson, foil of pride/Spouts at his wearynflock inside /The Gargoyle, from his loftynseat/Spouts at the people in the street.”nThe figure was prophetic, for, thoughnshe could never have known it at thentime, Dorothy L. Sayers would somedaynfind her vocation imitating that architecturalnfixture. A gargoyle serves annumber of purposes, from the mundanento the metaphysical. According tonRussell Kirk, who makes a hobby of suchninnominati, their foremost purpose isnplumbing: they throw rain off the roofsnso as to protect the stone walls from beingnstreaked. They represent the demons excludednfrom the sacred precincts of thenchurch. Most pertinently, they remindncomplacent passersby that evil does exist,nand that it is grotesque.nDorothy L. Sayers will be principallynremembered for her masterly detectivennovels, but for her, that was not her truenwork. Nor was applying her considerablenpoetic talents to the composition ofnGuinness advertisements for Benson’s,nan agency where she once toiled. WhennDorothy L. Sayers wrote about work,nthere was no temptation for her to overratenit, as some of the Distributistnwritings tend to; she was a realist. Work,nfor some, is the sweat of the brow ignominiouslynconverted into bullion. Butnwhen in the proper relationship with itsnagent (“the work proclaims the worth ofnthe workman”), work is a transcendentnthing.nWork is considered the central point ofnDorothy L. Sayers’s life in James Braba-n2on’s biographical portrait. “Creativity”nMr. Bower is an editor o/HillsdalenReview.nis a better term, sidestepping the morassnof economic and sociological cliches withnwhich our age tends to consider the subject.nThe demysticized perspective ofnwork—in which it fonctions as part of thenlabor-capital-profit equation—was abominablento her. As Brabazon writes,nSayers “tarred capitalism and socialismnwith the same bmsh” on this account,nand she was even willing to support thenmedieval Church in its hatred of usury,nnot just because of the biblical injunctionnbut because in seeming to create somethingn(interest) from nothing (money),nman was mocking God’s creativity.nHer best work of apologetics is an extendednanalogy entitled The Mind of thenMaker. Throughout his biography,nBrabazon points out how fittingly shenassumed the tasks she took up, and this isna prime example. Dogmatic theology is andistant field for any layman, as difiGcultnto popularize as campanology, which shenrendered comprehensible to solve thenWimsey mystery of The Nine Tailors. InnThe Mind of the Maker Sayers used thencreative process of art as a model andnneatly transposed the three acts of intuition,nenergy and enthusiasm into the TriunenGodhead, thus making it easy to seenhow three distinct faculties could emanatenfrom one mind. Her analogy fornPurgatory in her Introductory Papers onnDante is sweet and irrefotable. There isnno evidence of her having sat in at thentraining sessions for F.J. Sheed’s streetcornerncatechists, but her supreme talentnwas like theirs: the ability to communicatenabout realities ranging from theneternal to the evanescent.nIt is a temptation of literary biographersnto see their subject’s life as an extensionnof one of their themes, and I cannotnfault Brabazon for doing this; it is soncompelling in this case. From GaudynNight to her commissioned play for thenCanterbury Festival, Zeal to Thy House,nSayers was struggling to come to gripsnwith her life. She seemingly found an an­nnnswer with her theory of “the right job.”nStemming from her analogy of the Trinity,nit’s the idea that one’s dignity as anhuman comes from superseding the financialnconsiderations of work, and puttingnone’s energy at the service of intuitionnand talent instead. C.S. Lewis oncenargued with her that this theory was simplynan excuse for doing what she fancied,nwith the addition of God’s blessing.nOne of Sayers’s most delighrful essaysnon Christianity is “The Other Six DeadlynSins,” wherein she does a marvelousnanalysis of the state of Gluttony, Avarice,nWrath, Covetousness, Pride, Sloth andnLust (which had stolen center stage) innwartime England. The penultimate offense.nSloth, is considered briefly andnprincipally as that mortal sin which keepsnpeople from thinking clearly. No onencould accuse Dorothy L. Sayers of havingntransgressed in this regard; a mere glancenat her bibliography thwarts such a suspicion.nYet, she characterizes “whifflingnactivity of body” as a dissemblance oftennfabricated by Sloth to snare souls. Obviously,nif it is possible to wrap the facts ofnanyone’s life around the kernel of onenmasterful vice, this would not be thenenergumen in Dorothy L. Sayers’s soul.nWrath perhaps, but not as long as she wasnso consistently ill-tempered at the propernevils of her day: pomposity, stupidity,nintolerant tolerance (liberalism). Andnthese last two she rightly categorized asnsins of Slothfolness, the first against intellectnand the second against the spirit.nShe was proud by nature, but Pridenwas no harnessing factor in her life. Shenfought the good fight against it. Sayers’snfaithfol marriage and submission to thenself-important and self-centered OswaldnAtherton Fleming exonerates her. If it isnpossible truly to “die to self’ outside of ancontemplative order, she came very closento doing it. Yet she was lusty—in hernyouth at least. The consequences of hernlapse into luxuria were an illegitimatenson, a lifetime of grief and self-consciousndoubt. A dreadfol hypocrisy consumedn^ ^ M H H S InSeptember 198Sn