Tag Archives: Whose Body? Dorothy L. Sayers

Whose Body?

“After she’ad put Mrs.Thipps to bed, she’ad slipped out to go to the Plumber’s and Glaziers’ Ball at the “Black Faced Ram” Mr.Williams ‘ad met ‘er and brought ‘er back. E’could testify to where she’s been and that there wasn’t no ‘arm in it.”

Sayers, Dorothy. Whose Body? 1923. Reprint, New York, Dover, 2009, p66.

The use of a more slangy language, or at least not proper English, differs here from the one in Melanchta. It is too used to give speech to a person of a lower class, a domestic, as in Melanchta it is used for people considered, at the time, as lesser. But it is used mostly for humor, and do not aim at disturb our comprehension of the plot as it confusing in Melanchta. It is rather use to accentuate and caricature in a humorous way the features of ther personality as it quickly gives us an impression of Grace Horrocks ‘s character, a rather excitable, simple domestic.  The way her deposition -no proper dialogue features and it is one continuous speech- is transposed just shows that she is not that important.

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.