Quotations by Sayers, Dorothy


What is repugnant to every human being is to be reckoned always as a member of a class and not as an individual person.

Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957) English author, translator, apologist
“Are Women Human?”, Address to a Women’s Society (1938)

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To oppose one class perpetually to another — young against old, manual labour against brain-worker, rich against poor, woman against man — is to split the foundations of the State; and if the cleavage runs too deep, there remains no remedy but force and dictatorship. If you wish to preserve a free democracy, you must base it — not on classes and categories, for this will land you in the totalitarian State, where no one may act or think except as a member of a category. You must base it upon the individual Tom, Dick and Harry, and the individual Jack and Jill — in fact, upon you and me.

Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957) English author, translator, apologist
“Are Women Human?”, Address to a Women’s Society, conclusion (1938)

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As I grow older and older
And totter towards the tomb,
I find I care less and less
Who goes to bed with whom.

Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957) English author, translator, apologist
“That’s Why I Never Read Modern Novels”

Recalled on her death (17 Dec 1957)
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Somehow or other, and with the best of intentions, we have shown the world the typical Christian in the likeness of a crashing and rather ill-natured bore—and this in the name of one who assuredly never bored a soul in those thirty-three years during which he passed through the world like a flame.

Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957) English author, translator, apologist
“The Dogma is the Drama” (1938)
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Probably no man has ever troubled to imagine how strange his life would appear to himself if it were unrelentingly assessed in terms of his maleness; if everything he wore, said, or did had to be justified by reference to female approval; if he were compelled to regard himself, day in and day out, not as a member of society, but merely (salvâ reverentiâ) as a virile member of society.

Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957) English author, translator, apologist
“The Human-Not-Quite-Human,” Unpopular Opinions (1947)
    (Source)

Reprinted in her Are Women Human? (1971).
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Either your pride or mine have to be sacrificed — I can only appeal to your generosity to let it be yours.

Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957) English author, translator, apologist
Busman’s Honeymoon, “Promalthion” [Wimsey] (1937)
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I’ve always felt absolutely certain [life] was good — if only one could get it straightened out. I’ve hated almost everything that ever happened to me, but I knew all the time it was just things that were wrong, not everything. Even when I felt most awful I never thought of killing myself or wanting to die — only of somehow getting out of the mess and starting again.

Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957) English author, translator, apologist
Busman’s Honeymoon, ch. 14 [Harriet] (1937)
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And what do all the great words come to in the end, but that? I love you — I am at rest with you — I have come home.

Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957) English author, translator, apologist
Busman’s Honeymoon, ch. 16 [Peter to Harriet] (1937)
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It’s a pity the dead are so quiet; it makes us ready to forget them.

Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957) English author, translator, apologist
Busman’s Honeymoon, ch. 17 [Wimsey] (1937)
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The worst I know of her is that she doesn’t like my face, but that will hurt her more than it will me. I mean, you know, she’s the one that’s got to look at it.

Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957) English author, translator, apologist
Busman’s Honeymoon, ch. 3 [Wimsey] (1937)
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She always says, my lord, that facts are like cows. If you look them in the face hard enough they generally run away.

Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957) English author, translator, apologist
Clouds of Witness, ch. 4 [Bunter] (1926)
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The Church’s approach to an intelligent carpenter is usually confined to exhorting him not to be drunk and disorderly in his leisure hours, and to come to church on Sundays. What the Church should be telling him is this: that the very first demand that his religion makes upon him is that he should make good tables. Church by all means, and decent forms of amusement, certainly—but what use is all that if in the very center of his life and occupation he is insulting God with bad carpentry? No crooked table legs or ill-fitting drawers ever came out of the carpenter’s shop at Nazareth. Nor, if they did, could anyone believe that they were made by the same hand that made Heaven and earth.

Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957) English author, translator, apologist
Creed or Chaos? (1940)
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It is the business of the Church to recognize that the secular vocation, as such, is sacred. Christian people, and particularly Christian clergy, must get it firmly into their heads that when a man or woman is called to a particular job of secular work, that is as true vocation as though he or she were called to specifically religious work. […] In nothing has the Church lost Her hold on reality as in Her failure to understand and respect the secular vocation. She has allowed work and religion to become separate departments, and is astounded to find that, as a result, the secular work of the world is turned to purely selfish and destructive ends …

Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957) English author, translator, apologist
Creed or Chaos? (1940)
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What do we find God ‘doing about’ this business of sin and evil? … God did not abolish the fact of evil; He transformed it. He did not stop the Crucifixion; He rose from the dead.

Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957) English author, translator, apologist
Creed or Chaos? (1940)
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A facility for quotation covers the absence of original thought.

Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957) English author, translator, apologist
Gaudy Night [Wimsey] (1936)
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“Please don’t do that,” said Harriet, feeling as though she were feebly saying, “Drop it, Caesar,” to somebody else’s large and disobedient Alsatian.

Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957) English author, translator, apologist
Gaudy Night, ch. 12 (1936)
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“Do you find it easy to get drunk on words?”

“So easy that, to tell you the truth, I am seldom perfectly sober. Which accounts for my talking so much”

Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957) English author, translator, apologist
Gaudy Night, ch. 15 [Harriet and Peter] (1936)
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Three hundred years ago it mattered comparatively little. But now that you have the age of national self-realization, the age of colonial expansion, the age of the barbarian invasions and the age of the decline and fall, all jammed cheek by jowl in time and space, all armed alike with poison-gas and going through the outward motions of an advanced civilization, principles have become more dangerous than passions. It’s getting uncommonly easy to kill people in large numbers, and the first thing a principle does — if it really is a principle — is to kill someone.

Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957) English author, translator, apologist
Gaudy Night, ch. 17 [Wimsey] (1936)
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There is only one kind of wisdom that has any social value, and that is the knowledge of one’s own limitations.

Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957) English author, translator, apologist
Gaudy Night, ch. 17 [Wimsey] (1936)
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“But one has to make some sort of choice,” said Harriet. “And between one desire and another, how is one to know which things are really of overmastering importance?”

“We only know that,” said Miss de Vine, “when they have overmastered us.”

Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957) English author, translator, apologist
Gaudy Night, ch. 2 (1936)
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I imagine you come across a number of people who are disconcerted by the difference between what you do feel and what they fancy you ought to feel. It is fatal to pay the smallest attention to them.

Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957) English author, translator, apologist
Gaudy Night, ch. 2 [De Vine to Harriet] (1936)
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Harriet; I have nothing much in the way of religion, or even morality, but I do recognize a code of behavior of sorts. I do know the worst sin — perhaps the only sin — passion can commit, is to be joyless. It must lie down with laughter or make its bed in hell — there is no middle way.

Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957) English author, translator, apologist
Gaudy Night, ch. 23 [Wimsey] (1936)
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I always have a quotation for everything — it saves original thinking.

Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957) English author, translator, apologist
Have His Carcase, ch. 4 [Wimsey] (1932)
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All over London the lights flickered in and out, calling on the public to save its body and purse: SOPO SAVES SCRUBBING — NUTRAX FOR NERVES — CRUNCHLETS ARE CRISPER — EAT PIPER PARRITCH — DRINK POMPAYNE — ONE WHOOSH AND IT’S CLEAN — OH, BOY! IT’S TOMBOY TOFFEE — NOURISH NERVES WITH NUTRAX — FARLEY’S FOOTWEAR TAKES YOU FURTHER — IT ISN’T DEAR, IT’S DARLING — DARLING’S FOR HOUSEHOLD APPLIANCES — MAKE ALL SAFE WITH SANFECT — WIHIFFLETS FASCINATE. The presses, thundering and growling., ground out the same appeals by the million: ASK YOUR GROCER — ASK YOUR DOCTOR — ASK THE MAN WHO’S TRIED IT — MOTHERS! GIVE IT TO YOUR CHILDREN — HOUSEWIVES! SAVE MONEY — HUSBANDS! INSURE YOUR LIVES — WOMEN! DO YOU REALIZE? — DON’T SAY SOAP, SAY SOPO! Whatever you’re doing, stop it and do something else! Whatever you’re buying, pause and buy something different! Be hectored into health and prosperity! Never let up! Never go to sleep! Never be satisfied. If once you are satisfied, all our wheels will run down. Keep going — and if you can’t, Try Nutrax for Nerves!

Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957) English author, translator, apologist
Murder Must Advertise, ch. 5 (1933)
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She has a sense of humor … and brains … life wouldn’t be dull. One would wake up, and there would be a whole day full of jolly things to do. And then we would come home and go to bed… and that would be jolly too.

Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957) English author, translator, apologist
Strong Poison [Wimsey] (1930)
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Trouble shared is trouble halved.

Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957) English author, translator, apologist
The Five Red Herrings, ch. 9 [Wimsey] (1939)
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“Why doesn’t God smite this dictator dead?” is a question a little remote from us. Why, madam, did He not strike you dumb and imbecile before you uttered that baseless and unkind slander the day before yesterday? Or me, before I behaved with such cruel lack of consideration to that well-meaning friend? And why, sir, did He not cause your hand to rot off at the wrist before you signed your name to that dirty little bit of financial trickery?

Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957) English author, translator, apologist
The Man Born to Be King (1943)
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Books … are like lobster shells, we surround ourselves with ’em, then we grow out of ’em and leave ’em behind, as evidence of our earlier stages of development.

Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957) English author, translator, apologist
The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club [Wimsey] (1928)
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Setting aside the scandal caused by His Messianic claims and His reputation as a political firebrand, only two accusations of personal depravity seem to have been brought against Jesus of Nazareth. First, that He was a Sabbath-breaker. Secondly, that He was “a gluttonous man and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners” – or (to draw aside the veil of Elizabethan English that makes it sound so much more respectable) that He ate too heartily, drank too freely, and kept very disreputable company, including grafters of the lowest type and ladies who were no better than they should be. For nineteen and a half centuries, the Christian Churches have laboured, not without success, to remove this unfortunate impression made by their Lord and Master. They have hustled the Magdalens from the Communion-table, founded Total Abstinence Societies in the name of Him who made the water wine, and added improvements of their own, such as various bans and anathemas upon dancing and theatre-going. They have transferred the Sabbath from Saturday to Sunday, and, feeling that the original commandment “Thou shalt not work” was rather half-hearted, have added to it the new commandment, “Thou shalt not play.”

Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957) English author, translator, apologist
Unpopular Opinions (1947)
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