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Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers
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Gaudy Night

by Dorothy L. Sayers

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Lord Peter Wimsey (12)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,6791001,429 (4.32)286
  1. 60
    A Civil Campaign by Lois McMaster Bujold (PhoenixFalls)
    PhoenixFalls: A Civil Campaign is Lois McMaster Bujold's attempt to replicate Gaudy Night -- with an infusion of Georgette Heyer -- in her long-running Vorkosigan Saga.
  2. 20
    The Late Scholar by Jill Paton Walsh (merry10)
    merry10: The Late Scholar is Jill Paton Walsh's further exploration of Dorothy L. Sayers' themes in Gaudy Night.
  3. 20
    A Monstrous Regiment of Women by Laurie R. King (zembla)
    zembla: Both feature good banter, a mystery set in a mostly-female environment, and a tentative romance between the sleuth protagonists.
  4. 20
    Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis (kraaivrouw)
  5. 10
    The Theban Mysteries by Amanda Cross (BookGirlVL)
    BookGirlVL: Amanda Cross's Kate Fansler is an English professor and an amateur sleuth like Harriet Vane. The university and private school settings, as well as the witty, literate dialogue may appeal to readers who loved Dorothy L. Sayer's novels.
  6. 23
    A College of Magics by Caroline Stevermer (bmlg)
    bmlg: lively and engaging depiction of the community of women scholars
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» See also 286 mentions

English (93)  Danish (3)  German (3)  Swedish (1)  All languages (100)
Showing 1-5 of 93 (next | show all)
Harriet Vane returns to her college (Shrewsbury) at Oxford for a gaudy, discovers a disgusting picture and receives an anonymous note. Later she is asked to advise the SCR since there have been numerous more notes and cruel pranks. She moves into college and does some research while trying to get to the bottom of things. Eventually Peter returns from trying to avert WW2 and helps out. Unusually no one is actually murdered here, although there are various attacks towards the end.

I enjoyed this overall; the Oxford setting and vocabulary was very familiar and the character of Viscount Saint-George was a fun counterpoint to the solemnity and stress of the rest of the novel. There was an awful lot of debating about whether women had to choose between "the mind" or a husband, which seems to a modern reader to be water under the bridge and I suppose Peter is supposed to be demonstrating that Harriet can have both, although her final agreement to marry him was not particularly reasoned out - it seemed a bit as though she had decided she found him physically attractive and couldn't bring herself to lose him.

It would have been easier to keep track of who people were if they were not sometimes referred to by name and sometimes by their title (e.g. the Warden). Maybe a bit overlong in the middle. ( )
  pgchuis | Jul 23, 2015 |
A classic, probably one of the ten classic detective novels.

It manages this because of, not despite, its departure from a number of the standard tropes of the genre. No murder occurs; for much of the book the detective is absent; it includes a direct critique of the standard jigsaw-puzzle type of detective story and presents itself as representing an alternative; it raises more abstract and intractable problems related to the events of the novel and has the characters discuss them but leave them finally open for the reader. Characterization is deft and builds on the prior novels in the series. On top of this, it captures a time and a place which are now nostalgically lost (and were visibly going to be lost: like Brideshead Revisited, although earlier, this is written under the explicit shadow of coming war (building in that perspective via Peter's diplomatic tasks) and ongoing social change). ( )
1 vote jsburbidge | Jul 15, 2015 |
A re-read, selected a safe book due to the current mood.
There's little wrong with this as a book. I'd probably not start the series here, as otherwise the relationship between Harriet and Peter and it's tortuous path is missed. The book itself is a bit different, in that Peter disappears off to Europe and is not doing his detecting thing for the majority of the book. Once he re-appears he neatly sorts out the problem of the poison pen but Harriet takes a bit more work. The mystery itself is nicely problematic. Having read this before and knowing who it was, it was satisfying to see the trail of hints and clues that are there to be caught, but don't make themselves obvious unless you know where it is all going. I love the intellect at work here, I hanker after academia and the respect of learning (while knowing that its restrictions would drive me nuts). The teenage me had a major literary crush on Peter, but the older, wiser, me knows that he'd be far too difficult to live with. Even so, this is still a wonderful climax to the relationship story. I fell in love with this all over again. ( )
  Helenliz | May 3, 2015 |
Possibly my favorite of the five Wimsey-Vane books, since all the Oxford arcana made for a fun read, and the mystery was fascinating to watch unfold. ( )
  JBD1 | May 2, 2015 |
While being a loving (and lovely) portrait of Oxford and academic Life in the 30s. The mystery itself sadly falters somewhat, however. the plot never really gets going, and the pace slackens even more towards the ending. The whole thing feels rather directionless after a while, and the climax is underwhelming.

In addition, there's a lot of talking heads, who comes of rather stiffly. The novel seems to want to be a novel about ideas - about academic loyalty, about a woman's place in society, about love and relationships and work, and about what to sacrifice for what. This doesn't really work, even if you give it leeway for being a product of it's time - the talking is endless en repetitive, comes of as a pedantic ticking of boxes on a list of points and counterpoints, rather than the spirited exchange of ideas between scholarly minds it tries to be.

I love the Oxford bits to bits, and some of the passages are witty and insightful, but in the end it bare felt worth my time ( )
  Jannes | Apr 28, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 93 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dorothy L. Sayersprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
George, ElizabethIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Juva, KerstiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
The University is a Paradise. Rivers of Knowledge are there. Arts and Sciences flow from thence. Counsell Tables are Horti conclusi, (as it is said in the Canticles) Gardens that are walled in, and they are Fontes signati. Wells that are sealed up; bottomless depths of unsearchable Counsels there.

John Donne
Dedication
First words
Harriet Vane sat at her writing-table and stared out into Mecklenburg Square.
Quotations
'The social principle seems to be,' suggested Miss Pyke, 'that we should die for our own fun and not other people's.' 'Of course I admit,' said Miss Barton, rather angrily, 'that murder must be prevented and murderers kept from doing further harm. But they ought not to be punished and they certainly ought not to be killed.' 'I suppose they ought to be kept in hospitals at vast expense, along with other unfit specimens,' said Miss Edwards. 'Speaking as a biologist, I must say I think public money might be better employed. What with the number of imbeciles and physical wrecks we allow to go about and propagate their species, we shall end by devitalising whole nations.' 'Miss Schuster-Slatt would advocate sterilisation,' said the Dean. 'They're trying it in Germany, I believe,' said Miss Edwards. 'Together,' said Miss Hillyard, 'with the relegation of woman to her proper place in the home.' 'But they execute people there quite a lot,' said Wimsey, 'so Miss Barton can't take over their organisation lock, stock and barrel.'
`Were you really being as cautious and exacting about it as you would be about writing a passage of fine prose?’
‘That’s rather a difficult sort of comparison. One can’t, surely, deal with emotional excitements in that detached spirit’.
‘Isn’t the writing of good prose an emotional excitement?’
‘Yes, of course it is. At least, when you get the thing dead right and know it’s dead right, there’s no excitement like it. It’s marvellous. It makes you feel like God on the Seventh Day – for a bit, anyhow.’
‘Well, that’s what I mean. You expend the trouble and you don’t make any mistake – and then you experience the ecstasy. But if there’s any subject in which you’re content with the second-rate, then it isn’t really your subject.’
All the children seem to be coming out quite intelligent, thank goodness. It would have been such a bore to be the mother of morons, and it's an absolute toss-up, isn't it? If one could only invent them, like characters in books, it would be much more satisfactory to a well-regulated mind.
Detachment is a rare virtue, and very few people find it lovable, either in themselves or in others. If you ever find a person who likes you in spite of it--still more, because of it--that liking has very great value, because it is perfectly sincere, and because, with that person, you will never need to be anything but sincere yourself.
...never again would she mistake the will to feel for the feeling itself.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0061043494, Mass Market Paperback)

When Harriet Vane attends her Oxford reunion, known as the "Gaudy," the prim academic setting is haunted by a rash of bizarre pranks: scrawled obsentities, burnt effigies and poison-pen letters -- including one that says, "Ask your boyfriend with the title if he likes arsenic in his soup."Some of the notes threaten murder; all are perfectly ghastly; yet in spite of their scurrilous nature, all are perfectly worded. And Harriet finds herself ensnared in a nightmare of romance and terror, with only the tiniest shreds of clues to challenge her powers of detection, and those of her paramour, Lord Peter Wimsey.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:47 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Harriet Vane's Oxford reunion is shadowed by a rash of bizarre pranks and malicious mischief that include beautifully worded death threats, burnt effigies and vicious poison-pen letters, and Harriet finds herself and Lord Peter Wimsey challenged by an elusive set of clues.… (more)

» see all 6 descriptions

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