25 November 2021


I must confess that I have not conducted an exhaustive survey of the available literature on Edward VIII, Wallis Simpson, or their sexuality. But the impression I get from what I have looked at suggests that a masterful sexual dominance on his part was not the most obvious public element in their relationship. 

In Thrones, Dominations by Dorothy Sayers (it was 'completed' by J Paton Walsh), the relationship between Rosamund and Laurence Harwell appears to be so structured as to evoke some elements of that between Edward and Wallis. She controls the relationship. She calls the shots, and there are elements of suppliancy and subordination in Lawrence. "It was true that happiness had often to be wooed, pleaded for, struggled for; but he took it for granted that a woman was made like that -- she did not come half-way to meet desire ... she shrank instinctively from passion, but her shrinking inflamed it ... Since every act of love was an act of compliance, it was right to be grateful for it -- her surrender was so beautiful -- an intoxicating compliment that filled one with a perpetual consciousness of achievement. For the territory was never won; Alexander , had he been a lover, need never have lacked for new worlds to conquer -- it would have given him sufficient exercise to reconquer the same world over and over again.

"There were moments when Harwell found the endless ever-renewed warfare exhausting. To come so near, to achieve a conquest so absolute, and then, never to sit and enjoy his heritage in peace, but to find himself battering at the defences again ... She could always, of course, bring him to heel by witholding herself ...

"'But of course I love you for yourself, dearest,' he said desperately, coming over to her. 'How can you possibly think anything else? Oh, damn that telephone! Rosamund, listen ...'

"'Sure?' She smiled over his head as he knelt, in agitated surrender at the bedside, while the bell shrilled unheeded.

"'Certain. ... Surely I've proved it by this time.'

"Her face hardened. She said coldly, 'Hadn't you better answer the telephone?'" 

The two couples, the Wimseys and the Harwells, go to their respective theatres in Paris. The Harwells, at the Grand Guignol, see a melodrama about a woman who murders ... apparently, strangles ... her lover. They find 'the strangling scene' so "terribly exciting" that Rosamund is wriggling with sexual excitement in the homeward-bound taxi. 

The Wimseys, on the other hand, do not need staged kinks to remind them that they are married. They are united in finding the taxi ride to their theatre ... the Comedie-Francaise ... disappointingly rapid. Attempts to elucidate their dialogue ... about worms ... might be inappropriate on as respectable a Family Blog as this one.

Paul Delagardie, who, like any proper old gentleman, goes to the Folies, is reassured that legs ..."and breasts, for that matter ... had improved very much since his young days; for one thing, you see a great deal more of them."

One more episode (in which I will confess to a slight bibliographical uncertainty) ... should finish this topic.

1 comment:

Banshee said...

Wallis Simpson's primary sexual allegiance was "narcissist." (There's a lot of that going around, these days.) So it didn't really matter what happened in bed, as long as there were tons and tons of positive and negative emotional "fuel" involved, for her.

She actually did have brains, when she cared to use them for non-drama, survival, or external-drama-providing purposes, but that's about it.

I never managed to get more than about 15 pages into TD; so it's nice to know that there were some interesting bits, beyond the parts that are known to have been written by Sayers.