Quotes: Dorothy L. Sayers

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[W]hen I see men callously and cheerfully denying women the full use of their bodies, while insisting with sobs and howls on the satisfaction of their own, I simply can't find it heroic, or kind, or anything but pretty rotten and feeble.

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He was being about as protective as a can-opener.

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If anybody does marry you it will be for the pleasure of hearing you talk piffle.

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Oh, well, faint heart never won so much as a scrap of paper

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Don't be so damned discouraging," said Wimsey.

"I have already carefully explained to you that this time I am investigating this business. Anybody would think you had no confidence in me."

"People have been wrongly condemned before now."

"Exactly; simply because I wasn't there."

"I never thought of that.

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For whatever reason God chose to make man as he is— limited and suffering and subject to sorrows and death—He had the honesty and the courage to take His own medicine. Whatever game He is playing with His creation, He has kept His own rules and played fair. He can exact nothing from man that He has not exacted from Himself. He has Himself gone through the whole of human experience, from the trivial irritations of family life and the cramping restrictions of hard work and lack of money to the worst horrors of pain and humiliation, defeat, despair and death. When He was a man, He played the man. He was born in poverty and died in disgrace and thought it well worthwhile.

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There were crimson roses on the bench; they looked like splashes of blood.

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Now, it is frequently asserted that, with women, the job does not come first. What (people cry) are women doing with this liberty of theirs? What woman really prefers a job to a home and family? Very few, I admit. It is unfortunate that they should so often have to make the choice. A man does not, as a rule, have to choose. He gets both. Nevertheless, there have been women ... who had the choice, and chose the job and made a success of it. And there have been and are many men who have sacrificed their careers for women ... When it comes to a choice, then every man or woman has to choose as an individual human being, and, like a human being, take the consequences.

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Why would you family think about it?"

"Oh, my mother's the only one that counts, and she likes you very much from what she's seen of you."

"So you had me inspected?"

"No-dash ti all, I seem to be saying all the wrong things today. I was absolutely stunned that first day in court, and I rushed off to my mater, who's an absolute dear, and the kind of person who really understands things, and I said, 'Look here! here's the absolutely one and only woman, and she's being put through a simply ghastly awful business and for God's sake come and hold my hand!' You simply don't know how foul it was.

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The planet's tyrant, dotard Death, had held his gray mirror before them for a moment and shown them the image of things to come.

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It is extraordinarily entertaining to watch the historians of the past ... entangling themselves in what they were pleased to call the "problem" of Queen Elizabeth. They invented the most complicated and astonishing reasons both for her success as a sovereign and for her tortuous matrimonial policy. She was the tool of Burleigh, she was the tool of Leicester, she was the fool of Essex; she was diseased, she was deformed, she was a man in disguise. She was a mystery, and must have some extraordinary solution. Only recently has it occrurred to a few enlightened people that the solution might be quite simple after all. She might be one of the rare people were born into the right job and put that job first.

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The one thing which seems to me quite impossible is to take into consideration the kind of book one is expected to write; surely one can only write the book that is there to be written.

(Letter to Muriel St. Clare Byrne, 8 September 1935)

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See that the mind is honest, first; the rest may follow or not as God wills. [That] the fundamental treason to the mind ... is the one fundamental treason which the scholar's mind must not allow is the bond uniting all the Oxford people in the last resort.

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Nothing goes so well with a hot fire and buttered crumpets as a wet day without and a good dose of comfortable horrors within. The heavier the lashing of the rain and the ghastlier the details, the better the flavour seems to be.

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Lord Peter Wimsey: Facts, Bunter, must have facts. When I was a small boy, I always hated facts. Thought they were nasty, hard things, all nobs.
Mervyn Bunter: Yes, my lord. My old mother always used to say...
Lord Peter Wimsey: Your mother, Bunter? Oh, I never knew you had one. I always thought you just sort of came along already-made, so it were. Oh, excuse me. How infernally rude of me. Beg pardon, I'm sure.
Mervyn Bunter: That's all right, my lord.
Lord Peter Wimsey: Thank you.
Mervyn Bunter: Yes indeed, I was one of seven.
Lord Peter Wimsey: That is pure invention, Bunter, I know better. You are unique. But you were going to tell me about your mater.
Mervyn Bunter: Oh yes, my lord. My old mother always used to say that facts are like cows. If you stare them in the face hard enough, and they generally run away.
Lord Peter Wimsey: By Jove, that's courageous, Bunter. What a splendid person she must be.
Mervyn Bunter: I think so, my lord.

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Once lay down the rule that the job comes first and you throw that job open to every individual, man or woman, fat or thin, tall or short, ugly or beautiful, who is able to do that job better than the rest of the world.

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Has it ever struck you as odd, or unfortunate, that today, when the proportion of literacy is higher than it has ever been, people should have become susceptible to the influence of advertisement and mass propaganda to an extent hitherto unheard of and unimagined?

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Harriet was silent. She suddenly saw Wimsey in a new light. She knew him to be intelligent, clean, courteous, wealthy, well-read, amusing and enamoured, but he had not so far produced in her that crushing sense of utter inferiority which leads to prostration and hero-worship. But she now realised that there was, after all, something god-like about him. He could control a horse.

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A man once asked me ... how I managed in my books to write such natural conversation between men when they were by themselves. Was I, by any chance, a member of a large, mixed family with a lot of male friends? I replied that, on the contrary, I was an only child and had practically never seen or spoken to any men of my own age till I was about twenty-five. "Well," said the man, "I shouldn't have expected a woman (meaning me) to have been able to make it so convincing." I replied that I had coped with this difficult problem by making my men talk, as far as possible, like ordinary human beings. This aspect of the matter seemed to surprise the other speaker; he said no more, but took it away to chew it over. One of these days it may quite likely occur to him that women, as well as men, when left to themselves, talk very much like human beings also.

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Parker looked distressed. He had confidence in Wimsey's judgment, and, in spite of his own interior certainty, he felt shaken.
"My dear man, where's the flaw in [this case]?"
"There isn't one ... There's nothing wrong about it at all, except that the girl's innocent.