by Sayers, Dorothy L.
Best known for her Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, Dorothy Sayers was also a playwright, essayist, and a translator of Dante. C.S. Lewis said that he liked her "for the extraordinary zest and edge of her conversation--as I like a high wind." The reader gets a fair taste of that wind in this book, her study of the human (and divine) creative process. Beginning with some stingingly humorous words for the education process (which has produced, she says, "a generation of mental slatterns") she then explores the Trinitarian nature of creativity. Here she identifies the Christian concept of the Holy Trinity--God, Son, Holy Spirit--with three elements of creation. First, the Idea: "passionless, timeless, beholding the whole work complete at once, the end in the beginning"; then the Creative Energy: "begotten of that idea, working in time from the beginning to end," manifesting the Idea in matter; and finally the Creative Power: "the meaning of the work and its response in the lively soul"--in essence, what she calls "the indwelling Spirit."
In a plain, matter-of-fact style that readers will recognize from her mysteries, she reflects on the question of free will and miracle, evil, and, ultimately, "the worth of the work." It is especially here, I think, in this final chapter that the book remains both timeless and profoundly timely. The artist stands for the true worker, she writes, who, while requiring payment for his work, as an artist "retains so much of the image of God that he is in love with his creation for its own sake." So too, ultimately, should it be for all human work: "That the eyes of all workers should behold the integrity of the work is the sole means to make that work good in itself and so good for mankind. This is only another way of saying that the work must be measured by the standard of eternity." --Doug Thorpe
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