Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Sluckdrib

In the mail today: The Gospel in Dorothy L. Sayers: Selections from Her Novels, Plays, Letters, and Essays. The material below is from the editor's introduction (all I've read so far). It will be best understood by those who've read The Screwtape Letters. (I've read a couple of the chapters now and would advise those who haven't read the mysteries to read them before reading this book. The editor gives away way too much plot.)
One of the best examples of Sayers's humorous letters is the earliest extant from her long correspondence with C.S. Lewis. Writing as though she is one of the devils in Lewis's book, The Screwtape Letters, which had just come out the previous year, she enclosed an advance copy of The Man Born to Be King. In the letter she writes as "Sluckdrib," the devil personally responsible for Dorothy L. Sayers:
The effect of writing these plays upon the character of my patient is wholly satisfactory. I have already had the honour to report intellectual and spiritual pride, vainglory, self-opinionated dogmatism, irreverence, blasphemous frivolity, frequentation of the company of theatricals, captiousness, impatience of correction, polemical fury, shortness of temper, neglect of domestic affairs, lack of charity, egotism, nostalgia for secular occupations, and a growing tendency to consider the Bible as Literature....[but] the capture of one fifth-rate soul (which was already thoroughly worm-eaten and shaky owing to my assiduous attention) scarcely compensates for the fact that numbers of stout young souls in brand-new condition are opening up negotiations with the Enemy and receiving reinforcement of faith. We knew, of course, that the author is as corrupt as a rotten cheese; why has no care been taken to see that this corruption (which must, surely, permeate the whole work) has its proper effect upon the listeners? ... Either the Enemy is really able to turn thorns into grapes and thistles into figs, or (as I prefer to believe) there is mismanagement somewhere.