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Old 01-16-2018, 07:08 PM   #31
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For me it was not so much of a surprise of who did it and why. It was more difficult to deduce the clues to determine how. But, it would be hard for me to describe what the specific clues missing were. I listened to it as an audiobook during the daily commute so it was more difficult to keep track of everything with great attention and I'm more of a visual person. I did also borrow an ebook from my library which was helpful to read the first chapter, the long exposition of Lord Peter's theories near the middle and Sir Julian's confessional letter.
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Old 01-16-2018, 07:18 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by Dazrin View Post
[...]
What clues were missing for you? I thought most of the major ones were there (motive, opportunity, etc.)
I thought most of the pieces were there too. It seemed to me that the book was missing the distractions necessary to make obvious clues more obscure. Pretty much as soon as the link between Freke and Levy was made apparent he became prime suspect, and nothing ever really muddied the water after that.

At the time that I read the Dowager Duchess monologue (in which she makes so many comments about Jews) near the end of chapter 3, I wondered if it seemed so long winded, over the top, and out of place simply because Sayers was trying so hard to hide the fact that this was where she was dropping the critical clue that gave everything else away.
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Old 01-16-2018, 09:29 PM   #33
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Indeed, I thought that critical clue stuck out very clearly despite the attempt to bury it in general chatter. Once we had the mountaineering hobby listed, the how became pretty clear too.

It was just all too fancy, which then led to that interminable written explanation, which I suppose Sayers thought was psychologically right because of Sir Julian’s belief in his own cleverness and his need to boast about it.
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Old 01-16-2018, 10:24 PM   #34
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Indeed, the who, how, and why were all pretty obvious fairly early. Though I admit that I've read this before, so not the best judge of how well hidden the clues were.

For me, the witty humour were what kept me reading and enjoying this first book in the Lord Peter Wimsey series. And the rest are even better. In this first book, we see some of the elements that have made the books so endearingly popular, but we also see some weaknesses in Sayers craft.
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Old 01-17-2018, 07:05 AM   #35
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Are you suggesting that I should not admit to having a peacock dressing gown, if I don't want to give people the wrong idea about my sexuality, or is that something peculiar to the 1920s?

I do wonder how things might have read in the 1920s. You suggest that "a 20s reader would have been all over in terms of coded references to homosexuality", but might that not be equally true in reverse? (That the things we are interpreting as signals were, in fact, not signals after all.)
Well, I probably wouldn't wear the peacock dressing gown to the supermarket, say, and short of that, who's to know? That said, people in my (very quiet) neighborhood walk their dogs in their pajamas and the college kids go to the market in theirs. You know what your environment will stand.

I can't say I read with 20s eyes, of course, but I've read enough of and from that era to feel reasonably comfortable in my saying that Sayers is being suggestive about Peter's sexuality. It's not just the peacock dressing gown, that's just one of the more "flamboyant" examples.

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It may well be that the "retcon" was made because Sayers found that some people were indeed reading things into her text that she never intended.
Too bad. I'm quite strict about that. The text is the text; people can read into it whatever they like and can support. In fact, it makes it more interesting rather than having an author shut down the possibilities.

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For me, the witty humour were what kept me reading and enjoying this first book in the Lord Peter Wimsey series. And the rest are even better. In this first book, we see some of the elements that have made the books so endearingly popular, but we also see some weaknesses in Sayers craft.
I think once she stopped imitating and borrowing and felt more comfortable with her own voice, the books improved dramatically. But
Spoiler:
the quality declined somewhat, IMO, once she was overtly in love with Lord Peter, or at least that aspect of the books. Busman's Honeymoon is icky and silly.
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Old 01-17-2018, 01:41 PM   #36
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I thought all hat referring to things past wasn't a good idea. Also, the anti-semitism was too much. It didn't need to be.

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And Levy—who was nobody twenty years ago—romps in and carries off Freke’s girl from under his nose. It isn’t the girl Freke would bother about—it’s having his aristocratic nose put out of joint by a little Jewish nobody.
That just one example. Saysers didn't have to put it that way. She could have left out the word Jewish and it would still work.
I'm going to disagree with you here, Jon. I think the point of the remark was to show what a thoroughly nasty person Freke was and Sayers was using his anti-Semitism as the tool. I can read that as anti-anti-Semitism.

The issue crops up I think for two reasons, and that's one of them. The other is that Sayers couldn't resist the means of knowing that the body in the bath wasn't Sir Reuben. A little too clever and self-conscious as was much of the book, but I wouldn't call it disrespectful or anti-Semitic. A little cheesy, mostly.

That doesn't exclude, of course, the throw-away comments about "Hebrews" and so forth, but again, they were the words in the mouths of the characters and a reflection on them and their times. In fact, I don't think there was a Jewish character, or am I forgetting someone minor? Unless Lady Levy was a convert.
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Old 01-17-2018, 01:45 PM   #37
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For me, the witty humour were what kept me reading and enjoying this first book in the Lord Peter Wimsey series. And the rest are even better. In this first book, we see some of the elements that have made the books so endearingly popular, but we also see some weaknesses in Sayers craft.
I found this to be rather dry. I didn't find it funny. If anyone nominated this as a book because of the humor, I would have felt ripped-off.
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Old 01-17-2018, 01:51 PM   #38
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I'm going to disagree with you here, Jon. I think the point of the remark was to show what a thoroughly nasty person Freke was and Sayers was using his anti-Semitism as the tool. I can read that as anti-anti-Semitism.

The issue crops up I think for two reasons, and that's one of them. The other is that Sayers couldn't resist the means of knowing that the body in the bath wasn't Sir Reuben. A little too clever and self-conscious as was much of the book, but I wouldn't call it disrespectful or anti-Semitic. A little cheesy, mostly.

That doesn't exclude, of course, the throw-away comments about "Hebrews" and so forth, but again, they were the words in the mouths of the characters and a reflection on them and their times. In fact, I don't think there was a Jewish character, or am I forgetting someone minor? Unless Lady Levy was a convert.
Back then, not many Jews married outside the faith. So chances are that Lady Levy would be Jewish without having converted.

I still think there was no need to have Jewish hating characters. I do like the idea of the circumcision as a way to tell that the body was not that of Levy. But I still stand by my saying there was too many derogatory remarks against Jews.
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Old 01-17-2018, 02:02 PM   #39
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Back then, not many Jews married outside the faith. So chances are that Lady Levy would be Jewish without having converted.
I thought it was quite clear that she was not Jewish prior to their marriage. I don't remember it saying whether or not she converted though.
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Old 01-17-2018, 02:29 PM   #40
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I found this to be rather dry. I didn't find it funny. If anyone nominated this as a book because of the humor, I would have felt ripped-off.
Well, humor is very subjective. We don't all find the same things funny. I wouldn't classify this book in the humor category too, although I do agree with CRussell that I found it witty in places and chuckled out loud. An example would be some of the exchanges between Lord Peter and Bunter.
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Old 01-17-2018, 03:05 PM   #41
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Back then, not many Jews married outside the faith. So chances are that Lady Levy would be Jewish without having converted..
Jon, her first name was Christine!
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Old 01-17-2018, 08:18 PM   #42
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Back then, not many Jews married outside the faith.
True, but when she was writing the book, she was lying naked with one of us -- and, to her distress, he wouldn't marry her. See:

The Curious Case of Dorothy L. Sayers & the Jew Who Wasn’t There
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It turns out that at the time she created Lord Peter Wimsey, she was embroiled in what ended up as a desperately unhappy love affair with one John Cournos, a Russian-born Jewish novelist and poet. A bohemian figure, Cournos had fled the Russian revolution at age 10 with his parents and settled in America, then came to England to write. He and Sayers had a passionate though unconsummated romance, detailed for posterity in his otherwise forgotten ninth novel, The Devil Is an English Gentleman, which describes how they would lie naked on the couch together, arguing about whether to go further.
I am totally sympathetic to Ms. Sayers's romantic angst, even if her defense against contemporary antisemitism charges, regarding Whose Body?, maybe wasn't 1,000 percent accurate:

Quote:
"My own opinion is that the only people who were presented in a favourable light were the Jews!”
I just found this thread, and it's been eight years since I read the book (I keep records ), but I don't recall being offended. To me, antisemitism means believing that the Jews are ruining the world. Dorothy Sayers had nothing to do with that.
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Old 01-18-2018, 09:15 AM   #43
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Sayers did write derogatory comments about Jews.
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Old 01-18-2018, 09:33 AM   #44
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Sayers did write derogatory comments about Jews.
Indeed she did - in the same fictional story that she has a doctor confess to murder and professional detectives appear like morons next to an amateur. So the question becomes: what parts of this were entirely made up to fit the story she wanted to write, and what parts reflect the author's internal beliefs concerning Jews, doctors and detectives?

You have obviously formed your own opinions on this but other opinions are possible.
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Old 01-18-2018, 10:56 AM   #45
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Yes, other opinions are possible. And due to my opinion, I won't be reading any more of her books.
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