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Old 01-22-2018, 10:55 AM   #61
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This contrast is one of the reasons that I especially like reading some older texts. The class disparity from 100 years ago stands out as obvious to us now, but by standing out as it does it makes it easier to look to current times and identify similar issues (issues that are otherwise so easy to overlook because "that's just the way things are").
An excellent point; it does work both ways. I was citing a modern viewpoint as helpful in understanding undercurrents in older books, but you're right; turning the lens around sheds light on our own times, too.

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The disparities and excuses also carry into modern fiction - especially in fantasy: lord and ladies, knights and warriors, heroes and their loyal sidekicks. It seems we have some built in affinity or desire for class systems (though I presume the attraction is only for being on the right side of such class systems).
This makes me think of how those who've had past life regressions seem to have had earlier lives disproportionately in the rich, famous and/or powerful class, when you'd expect the short and brutish lives experienced by the bulk of humanity to predominate.
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Old 01-22-2018, 01:57 PM   #62
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This makes me think of how those who've had past life regressions seem to have had earlier lives disproportionately in the rich, famous and/or powerful class, when you'd expect the short and brutish lives experienced by the bulk of humanity to predominate.
You can see the difference between the rich and the not-so-rich from books written back then. But, I think if you look at how things are today, it's a much larger divide.
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Old 01-22-2018, 02:42 PM   #63
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You can see the difference between the rich and the not-so-rich from books written back then. But, I think if you look at how things are today, it's a much larger divide.
Definitely, and the point I was trying to make earlier in this thread. Yes, there's some paternalism here, and certainly some racism/anti-semitism. But no more than we have today, even if today's is less recognized by our current eyes. Can we honestly say that Muslims are treated any better in the current political climate than the unquestionably nasty treatment of Jews in Whose Body? Does a change in religion make the one more acceptable than the other?
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Old 01-22-2018, 04:42 PM   #64
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Definitely, and the point I was trying to make earlier in this thread. Yes, there's some paternalism here, and certainly some racism/anti-semitism. But no more than we have today, even if today's is less recognized by our current eyes. Can we honestly say that Muslims are treated any better in the current political climate than the unquestionably nasty treatment of Jews in Whose Body? Does a change in religion make the one more acceptable than the other?
I know things today are not as good as they should be. But, I don't care for reading about racism/anti-semitism in books were I don't feel it's appropriate.

Passing which is the current book club book, I expect there to be some racism and it most likely won't bother me given the time period and the subject of the book. Whose Body? bothered me because it doesn't belong.
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Old 01-22-2018, 08:04 PM   #65
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[...] Passing which is the current book club book, I expect there to be some racism and it most likely won't bother me given the time period and the subject of the book. Whose Body? bothered me because it doesn't belong.
You mean, like, it doesn't belong other than being part of the motive

Would Freke have reacted so strongly to his rejection by Christine if the competitor wasn't a Jew? We don't really know, but the book suggests it could have been a factor.
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Old 01-23-2018, 03:39 PM   #66
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Going back to those "superfluous" women, though, it was extremely odd that Peter, a wealthy young aristocrat in his early 30s, hadn't married. His family makes an issue of it, in fact. I think it's strongly implied that Peter might be gay; his characterization bears the hallmarks of the stereotypically gay man of the 20s and quite flamboyantly at times.

I think it's possible to take the references to Jews and, implied, gays as either and both a marker of the times and somewhat subversive. In fact, I think Sayers might just have been striving for the sensational; the whole business was rather over-the-top.
I also got a bit of vibe about Peter’s sexuality at a few places in the text.

I felt that Sayers was having a lark with the book. For example, the suggestion that the unidentified might be “An Australian colonist, for instance, who had made money?” - this seems like a nod at Magwitch from Great Expectations.

I found the modernity of the language interesting - “Before the fire he sat down with his pipe in his mouth and his jazzy coloured peacocks gathered about him.”

Another interesting thing for me was the way that marketing language crept into the text -surely a reflection of Sayer’s day job as a copy writer.

“She wore a charming wrap from Liberty’s”), "vulcanite" and the repeated references to Formamint.

Here is a near contemporary advert for Formamint - “them nasty jujubes”

https://www.illustratedfirstworldwar...1109-0025-001/
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Old 01-24-2018, 09:43 AM   #67
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January 2018 Discussion • Whose Body? by Dorothy L. Sayers

The humor, especially at the beginning of the book, at times made me laugh out loud.

Quote:
“Bunter!”

“Yes, my lord.”

“Her Grace tells me that a respectable Battersea architect has discovered a dead man in his bath.”

“Indeed, my lord? That’s very gratifying.”

“Very, Bunter. Your choice of words is unerring.
I thought the anti-Semitism in the book a reflection on the characters and the times, not on the author herself, especially in light of astrangerhere's revelation that Sayers was involved romantically with a Jewish man at the time of the novel's writing. Such involvement can make someone sensitive to how frequently bigoted comments are heard.

A slight aside: Did Aristotle really say that the Golden Mean kept one from being a golden ass?

Finally, for a Lord, Peter Whimsy sure seemed to use a lot of street English. I refer to his excessive use of dropping the final "g" with words ending in "ing" and his constant use of "ain't" instead of "isn't". I confess to not having experience with lords, but this ain't how I pictured 'em talkin'.

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Old 01-24-2018, 09:57 AM   #68
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Finally, for a Lord, Peter Whimsy sure seemed to use a lot of street English. I refer to his excessive use of dropping the final "g" with words ending in "ing" and his constant use of "ain't" instead of "isn't". I confess to not having experience with lords, but this ain't how I pictured them talkin'.
It's an affectation. He probably does it to annoy his elderly relatives.
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Old 01-24-2018, 01:56 PM   #69
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It seems to me that much of what was written between the wars in the UK was an escape from the fairly grim realities of life for many people, and I see the romantic notion of charming aristocrats such as Lord Peter very much in that vein.
I have been reading The Golden Age of Murder by Martin Edwards. He is the current President of the Detection Club. He was also the club's first Archivist.
Spoiler:
Can you imagine being a fly on the wall at one of their dinner parties?! To quote Wikipedia for those who aren't aware:
Quote:
The Detection Club was formed in 1930 by a group of British mystery writers, including Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Ronald Knox, Freeman Wills Crofts, Arthur Morrison, Hugh Walpole, John Rhode, Jessie Rickard, Baroness Emma Orczy, R. Austin Freeman, G. D. H. Cole, Margaret Cole, E. C. Bentley, Henry Wade, and H. C. Bailey. Anthony Berkeley was instrumental in setting up the club, and the first president was G. K. Chesterton. There was a fanciful initiation ritual with an oath probably written by either Chesterton or Sayers, and the club held regular dinner meetings in London.

I borrowed the book from an Overdrive library. The second chapter is biographical details about Dorothy L. Sayers. There were a few passages that I would like to share that support Bookpossum's post. I think it's also interesting to consider how the detective story in this period was evolving.

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The movers and shakers in the Detection Club were young writers who at first pretended to write according to a set of light-hearted ‘rules’. This symptomized the ‘play fever’ that swept through Britain after the First World War, when games as different as contract bridge and mah-jongg captured the popular imagination, and crossword puzzles were all the rage. After the loss of millions of lives in combat, and then during the Spanish flu epidemic, games offered escape from the horrors of wartime – as well as from the bleak realities of peace. Economic misery seemed never-ending......Detective stories offered readers pleasure at a time when they feared for the future. As the Wall Street Crash brought the Roaring Twenties to a shuddering end, writers prided themselves on coming up with fresh ways of disguising whodunit or howdunit, but the most gifted novelists itched to do more, to explore human relationships and the complications of psychology.
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Sayers, a woman as forceful as she was erudite, believed the detective story could become something more than mere light entertainment. ‘If there is any serious aim behind the avowedly frivolous organisation of the Detection Club,’ she said shortly after its formation, ‘it is to keep the detective story up to the highest standard that its nature permits, and to free it from the bad legacy of sensationalism, clap-trap and jargon with which it was unhappily burdened in the past.’
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Her intentions were satiric rather than snobbish. A detective who was not a professional police officer, she reasoned, needed to be rich and to have plenty of leisure time to devote to solving mysteries. She conceived Wimsey as a caricature of the gifted amateur sleuth, and found it amusing to soak herself in the lifestyle of someone for whom money was no object......Having fun with Wimsey offered relief from the depressing reality of life on a tight budget. The rent for her flat was seventy pounds a year, and she struggled to make ends meet. As she told her parents, in one of her innumerable frank and entertaining letters, writing about Wimsey ‘prevents me from wanting too badly the kind of life I do want, and see no chance of getting ...’ If the novel did not sell, she intended to abandon her literary ambitions, and take up a permanent job as a teacher.
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Old 01-24-2018, 07:11 PM   #70
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Thanks very much for this, Bookworm-Girl - sounds like another book I need to read! It sheds an interesting light on what was going on back then, and I must admit to being pleased to learn that my interpretation seems to be accurate.
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Old 01-25-2018, 01:01 AM   #71
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Okay, so we think we know why they read so much of this stuff back in the 1920s etc. What's our excuse?

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Old 01-25-2018, 01:24 AM   #72
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Why do I need an excuse. They're fun.
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Old 01-25-2018, 01:50 AM   #73
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Okay, so we think we know why they read so much of this stuff back in the 1920s etc. What's our excuse?

"Economic misery seemed never-ending....."

I think that there is always room for fiction where the characters don't have to worry about finances.

I don't think that this is the only reason that people seem to like stories with competent people looking after upper-class employers who couldn't do without them (such as Jeeves and Wooster, Alfred and Bruce Wayne, Frodo and Sam....). Some of the servants I've read about hardly seem to be in need of pity; a decent salary (as defined by one's needs), the chance to enjoy one's hobby and caring for someone who badly needs you seems like the ideal life for a certain type of person (Jeeves certainly seems to enjoy his life ).

Another reason may possibly be enjoyment of the idea that those upper-class people would starve, have a nervous breakdown, be married off to a scary woman, succumb to evil or otherwise be unable to cope left to their own devices.

Or it may be enjoyment of the romanticized view of a household with servants where all parties care deeply for each other and make their own contributions to the well being of everyone in the household.
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Old 01-25-2018, 03:01 AM   #74
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In a later Wimsey book, Harriet Vane says that when she was poor and unhappy, she wrote light hearted novels (probably cozy mysteries), but now that she's happy and financially secure, she discovers that the book she is writing is turning much darker.
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Old 01-25-2018, 06:24 AM   #75
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Why do I need an excuse. They're fun.
Not always and not this one. Not at all. It wasn't fun. It was rather dry and insulting.
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