Tag Archives: Dorthy Sayers

Whose Body?

“He drifted across the passage into his bedroom, and was changing with a rapidity one might not have expected from a man of his mannerisms. He selected a dark-green tie to match his socks and tied it accurately without hesitation or the slightest compression of his lips; substituted a pair of brown shoes for his black ones, slipped a monocle into a breast pocket, and took up a beautiful Malacca walking-stick with a heavy silver knob” (p.4)

Sayers, Dorothy. Whose Body? 1923. Reprint, New York: Dover, 2009


This novel becomes increasingly more and more descriptive as you read through the chapters. As we progress, the attention to detail is so evident that it keeps me wanting to read more. The description of Lord Peter going through the options of his clothing and delicately placing a monocle into his pocket. This vivid imagery helps the reader imagine the scenario in place. Sayers truly describes everything in detail giving clear images of what she wishes you to see. Compared to the other texts we have read such Stein’s story Melanctha or Conrad’s text Heart of Darkness, the imagery is completely evident. The other texts continually use literary devices which can sometimes make the purpose of the scene unclear. Sayers text sets the scene and the purpose of the scene always feels evident.

Immediate Action

” ‘He rang them up to say he couldn’t. He was so upset, poor little man. He’d found a dead body in his bath.’

‘Sorry, Mother, I can’t hear; found what, where?’

‘A dead body, dear, in his bath.’

‘What?—no, no, we haven’t finished. Please don’t cut us off. Hullo! Hullo! Is that you, Mother? Hullo!—Mother!—Oh, yes—sorry, the girl was trying to cut us off. What sort of body?’ ”

I appreciate this chunk of dialogue here for introducing the plot on the first page of the text.  The story open with Lord Peter Wimsey conversing with a cab driver, an already exciting start that puts the reader within the action, and then immediately the reader is thrust forward into the plot.  A dead body is found and in one motion, context is given to the title, and the word body is repeated three times in these four lines to make it impossible to forget.  This writing is exciting; it draws the reader in faster than any other text we’ve read.  Other texts, such as Melanctha and Heart of Darkness felt like they were being told from a distance.  Those texts can be as exciting as this, however, the worlds read about feel at a distance compared to Whose Body? which draws in the reader immediately.  The reader is not expected to simply read and comprehend, but go beyond that and experience the story, which is also made possible by the extensive amount of dialogue.