20 February 2023

Sayers (2): Abortion?

DLS was, from the beginning, not averse to writing ... erotically? ... not, I think, the right word; 'explicitly', perhaps. Her first draft of her novel Whose Body had laid some emphasis on the status, in terms of Circumcision, of a naked male corpse. Busman's Honeymoon is full of John-Donnery; Donne was an author himself awake to the possibilities of bringing together the corporeal and the geographical. DLS was not above writing a novel the key to which is Interbellum Lesbianism. But I do not think that anything she wrote earlier was quite as explicit as the episode early in Thrones and Dominations, situated at the back of a Parisian taxi, where Wimsey takes his wife's hand and starts burbling on about "cherishing worms". 

And the relationship between Laurence and Rosamund Harwell is given a basis in the sexual exploitation of sexual frustration. He wants a baby; she is determined not to allow this to happen. The role of her ridiculous dog in chapter 6 is, in my view, masterly.

My hypothesis, advanced as nothing more than a hypothesis, is that Rosamund, having become pregnant, seeks a solution to this problem in Abortion. Harwell loses his temper when he finds out.

I wonder if Sayers slips into her draft an allusive reference to the sexual act which had resulted in that conception.

On the night when Lord Dawson killed George V, Rosamund has gone to bed, while Laurence listens to the bulletins. After the announcement of the Royal Death, he goes to bed. "His sudden arrival startled her. She said, 'Not already?' and he answered. 'Yes; he's gone,'  and she could only cry, 'Oh Laurence!' and cling to him. A rich melancholy enfolded them. They felt the grief of a nation lap them in luxurious sheets of sympathetic bereavement. A whole epoch was collapsing about them, while at the core of darkness they lit their small blaze of life and were comforted."

How exactly does one 'light a small blaze of life'?

Sayers, with ironic detachment, characterises this as "a night of stars and love".

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