Whose Body?

“Dorothy L. Sayers’s Whose Body? (1923) is one of the inaugural texts of Golden Age detective fiction, but unlike many interwar detective novels it exhibits a powerful interest in the materiality of the body and the embodied nature of subjectivity. Like much classic detective fiction, Sayers’s work can be read in relation to ratiocination and the intellect, but the body and bodily experience play an equally, if not more, important role in her first novel. Whose Body?‘s intense corporality complicates notions of the interwar detective novel as a consolatory form of fiction, emphasizing instead its probing examination of the unhealed social wounds of the First World War.” Eric Sandberg: “The Body in the Bath” : Dorothy L. Sayers’s Whose Body? And Embodied Detective Fiction (April 2019)

From Chapter VII: (the Dowager Duchess of Denver is speaking)

” ” ‘Did you hear anything unusual in the night?’ says the little man, leaning forward and screaming at her, and so crimson in the face and his ears sticking out so—just like a cherubim in that poem of Tennyson’s—or is a cherub blue?—perhaps it’s seraphim I mean—anyway, you know what I mean, all eyes, with little wings on its head. And dear old Mrs. Thipps saying, ‘Of course I have, any time these eighty years,’ and such a sensation in court till they found out she thought he’d said, ‘Do you sleep without a light?’ and everybody laughing, and then the Coroner said quite loudly, ‘Damn the woman,’ and she heard that, I can’t think why, and said: ‘Don’t you get swearing, young man, sitting there in the presence of Providence, as you may say. I don’t know what young people are coming to nowadays’—and he’s sixty if he’s a day, you know,” said the Duchess.”

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