Dorothy L. Sayers is a notable representative of detective fiction, particularly well-known for the most significant figure of her writing, Lord Peter Wimsey. This character appears in most of the novels and several stories she wrote between the 1920s and 1930s, and throughout these years gradually became the Great Detective, who serves as an example of the typical hero in the world of murder mystery novels.
Providing the preview of other famous mystery novel writers in the beginning of the genre, and specifically in the Golden Age of the Detective Fiction between the First and the Second World Wars, it is possible to observe some specific aspects of Sayers’s writing. For example, when comparing her to Agatha Christie’s works including the character of Hercule Poirot, it is visible that Sayers chose to create a similarly distinctive, but much more visible Great Detective, at least when he was first created. Lord Peter Wimsey is not only an extraordinary detective with a great sense of humour, but also a tall, handsome aristocrat with brilliant speaking demeanour and gentlemanly manners, and his methods are crucial for the development of the genre, too. In addition to this, commenting on Sayers’s personal and professional life, one can understand the circumstances around the author which led her to the creation of her Great Detective. The escape from traditional Victorian values and the influence of First World War were the most inspiring aspects which she reflected in the novels selected. Sayers’s style of writing detective fiction helped to popularize and further improve the genre, also by breaking conventions of the time. Throughout her years of activity, she attempted to upgrade the mystery to the novel of manners where the characters would be as fascinating for the reader as the mystery, and denied the static flatness of the Great Detective. The novels selected represent English life in the period between the wars, and provide the synthesis of the mystery with many social issues and economic changes.
The main aim of this thesis was to describe the individuality of Lord Peter Wimsey himself, accenting his qualities and pointing out the changes the character underwent during his existence. These are particularly visible when comparing the two novels discussed, Whose Body? and Murder Must Advertise, which have the interval of ten years between their publications. The first mentioned, although having an interesting plot, represents a traditional mystery, while the latter one is a more serious novel demonstrating a deeper analysis of the main character. When Sayers became aware of the fact that the character of her detective in the first novel was created as very conventional and idealistic, she gradually changed Wimsey’s characteristics; from a rather shallow amateur investigator with snobbish mannerisms, he transformed into a deep and compassionate gentleman with extraordinary abilities to solve mysteries.
This work then provides an overall image of Wimsey; both his outside appearance and personal qualities, and also depicts his professional brilliance as a detective. Despite showing some unrealistic attributes, the creation of Wimsey in Sayers’s works considerably contributes to her writing, as well as the whole genre. She managed to create an undoubtedly confident and strong Great Detective with a sense of compassion, who is classy, ingenious, sleek and knowledgeable, but also provocative at the same time. The complex personality of Lord Peter Wimsey, gradually developing throughout the years of Sayers's attempt to establish a modern form of detective fiction, proves him to be one of the most significant representatives of a Great Detective.
Chesterton, Gilbert Keith. The Innocence of Father Brown. Middlesex: Penguin Books. 1970. Print.
Christie, Agatha. The Mysterious Affair at Styles. New York: Dover Publications, Inc. 1997. Print.
Collins, Wilkie. The Woman in White. London: Chatto & Windus. 1920. Print.
Doyle, Arthur Conan, Sir. The Hound of the Baskervilles. Dover Publications, Inc. 1994. Print.
Sayers, Dorothy L. Murder Must Advertise. London: New English Library. 1988. Print.
--- Whose Body?. London: New English Library. 1987. Print.
“Biography of DLS.” The Dorothy L Sayers Society. n.d. Web. 16 Apr 2013. <http://www.sayers.org.uk/dorothy.html>
Connelly, Kelly C. “From Detective Fiction to Detective Literature: Psychology in the novels of Dorothy L. Sayers and Margaret Millar”. Clues: A Journal of Detection 25.3 (2007): 35-47. HÖGSKOLAN DALARNA BIBLIOTEK. Web. 19 Apr 2013.
Dale, Alzina Stone. Dorothy L. Sayers: The Centenary Celebration. Bloomington: iUniverse, Inc. 2005. Print.
“Dorothy L. Sayers Biography.” Biography Base. n.d. Web. 14 Apr 2013.
Göpffarth, Maren. Sayers, Dorothy L. and Lord Peter Wimsey. Munich: GRIN Verlag. 2003. Print.
Hardesty, Susan M.. “Using the ‘Little Grey Cells’”. The English Journal 72.5 (1983): 37-40. JSTOR. 21 Jan 2013.
Hayes, Aden W., and Tololyan Khachig. “The Cross and the Compass: Patterns of Order in Chesterton and Borges”. Hispanic Review 49.4 (1981): 398-405. JSTOR. Web. 21 Jan 2013.
Heilbrun, Carolyn. “Sayers, Lord Peter and God”. The American Scholar. 37.2. (1968), p. 324-334. Web. 1 Nov 2012.
Hitchman, Janet. Such a Strange Lady: A Biography of Dorothy L. Sayers. New York: Harper & Row, 1975. Print.
James, P. D. “An Introduction”. In The Art of Murder, British Crime Fiction. The British Council, 1993. Print.
Kendrick, Walter M.. “The Sensationalism of The Woman in White”. Nineteenth-Century Fiction 32.1 (1977): 23. JSTOR. Web 20 Jan 2013.
Kenney, Catherine. The Remarkable Case of Dorothy L. Sayers. Kent: Kent State University Press, 1991. Print.
Kissane James, and John M. Kissane. “Sherlock and the Ritual of Reason”. Nineteenth-Century Fiction 17.4 (1963): 353-355. JSTOR. Web. 22 Jan 2013.
Liukkonen, Petri. “Dorothy L. Sayers.” Kirjasto. n.d. Web. 14 Apr 2013.
McGregor, Robert Kuhn, and Ethan Lewis. Conundrums for the Long Week-End: England, Dorothy L. Sayers and Lord Peter Wimsey. Kent: Kent State University Press, 2000. Print.
McManis, Douglas R.. “Places for Mysteries”. Geographical Review 68.3 (1978): 328-334. JSTOR. Web. 21 Jan 2013.
Meckier, Jerome. “Wilkie Collins’s the Woman in White: Providence against the Evils of Propriety”. Journal of British Studies 22.1 (1982): 104-126. JSTOR. Web 21 Jan 2013.
Molander Danielsson, Karin. The Dynamic Detective: Special Interest and Seriality in Contemporary Detective Series. Uppsala: Diss. Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2002. Print
Scaggs, John. Crime Fiction. London: Routledge, 2005. Print.
Strout, Cushing. “Romance and the Literary Detective: The Legacy of Dorothy Sayers”. Sewanee Review 109.3 (2001): 423-437. HÖGSKOLAN DALARNA BIBLIOTEK. Web. 19 Apr 2013.
Symons, Julian. Bloody Murder. London: Penguin Books. 1974. Print.
Trodd, Anthea. “Crime Fiction”. Women’s Writing in English: Britain 1900-1945. London: 1998, p. 129-136. Print.
Williams, Merryn. Six Women Novelists. London: Macmillan, 1987. p. 81-97. Print.
Účelem této práce je analýza osobnosti detektiva Lorda Petera Wimseyho z různých perspektiv. Práce se soustředí na dva romány od spisovatelky Dorothy L. Sayersové, ve kterých Wimsey vystupuje – Whose Body? a Murder Must Advertise, a které poukazují na postupné změny v chování a odborných schopnostech dané postavy.
Táto práce v první řade zkoumá roli Sayersové jako významné a inovativní autorky detektivních románů; na základě přehledu jiných představitelů detektivních románů, obzvlášť v tzv. Zlatém Věku Detektivní Literatury, je možné ustanovit její převratný styl psaní. Kromě toho jsou v práci zohledněné jisté aspekty z osobního života Sayersové, jelikož jsou spojené s její tvorbou postavy Lorda Petra Wimseyho.
Hlavním cílem této práce je poukázat na vývoj postavy Wimseyho, co se jeho osobnostních kvalit, jako i kvalit v oblasti kriminálního vyšetřovaní týče. V průběhu své existence se zformoval v seriózní literární postavu s hloubkou osobnosti a silnými schopnostmi skutečného detektiva, jako je to zřejmé ve druhém z analyzovaných románů. Na konci je možné pozorovat Wimseyho jako silnou osobnost plnou zodpovědnosti a porozumění, co z něho dělá ukázkového gentlemana.
The aim of the thesis is to analyse the character of a Great Detective, Lord Peter Wimsey, from various points of view. The thesis focuses on two novels by Dorothy L. Sayers, featuring Wimsey – Whose Body? and Murder Must Advertise, which express a gradual change in the detective character’s behaviour and professional skills.
First of all, Sayers’s role as a significant and innovative writer of detective novels is explored; providing the outline of other representatives of the genre, especially of the Golden Age of Detective Fiction, Sayers’s distinguished style of writing is established. Moreover, certain aspects of Sayers’s personal life are considered, as they are connected to the creation of Lord Peter Wimsey.
The main ambition of this work is to point out the growth of Wimsey’s character considering his personal qualities, as well as qualities as a criminal investigator. Throughout his existence, the character is formed into a serious figure with a deep personality and strong abilities of a Great Detective, as it is visible in the second novel analysed. In the end, one can see Wimsey as a strong person full of responsibility and understanding, making him an exemplary gentleman.