Presentation on theme: "Fantastical Conversations with the Other in the Self: Dorothy L. Sayers (1893- 1957) and her Peter Wimsey as Animus Dr Laura Martin CG Jung Seminars Scotland."— Presentation transcript:
Fantastical Conversations with the Other in the Self: Dorothy L. Sayers (1893- 1957) and her Peter Wimsey as Animus Dr Laura Martin CG Jung Seminars Scotland 3 May 2014
Abstract: Dorothy L. Sayers created in her fictional character Lord Peter Wimsey a ‘contrasexual’ figure in her own imagination, with whom she carried on an extended dialogue over many years. C.G. Jung’s concept of the contrasexual archetype, anima/animus, can provide a very useful tool for investigating the presence of this transgendered voice within the self. Specifically in relation to Sayers and her Wimsey, Jung’s theory can uncover the successful conversion of a potentially 'bad animus' into a positive one, or in other words, Sayers’s successful creation in herself of her own 'masculine' voice to replace the harmful voice of the patriarchy. Not unlike Cixous’ concept of the 'other bisexuality,' the contrasexual element in Sayers provides a model too for her readers to 'speak woman' in a full or rounded way.
Characters are the life of literature: they are the objects of our curiosity and fascination, affection and dislike, admiration and condemnation […]. Through the power of identification, through sympathy and antipathy, they become part of how we conceive ourselves, a part of who we are. (Bennett and Royle, An Introduction to Literature 63)
Structure of paper I Reading Sayers with Jung II Jung: Anima and Animus III Dorothy Leigh Sayers IV Peter Wimsey as Animus V Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane: A Syzygy in the Making VI Why Jung? Jung and Feminism
The Wimsey Works Whose Body? (1923) Whose Body? Clouds of Witness (1926) Clouds of Witness Unnatural Death (1927) Unnatural Death The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (1928) The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club Lord Peter Views the Body (1928; 12 short stories) Lord Peter Views the Body Strong Poison (1930) Strong Poison Five Red Herrings (1931) Five Red Herrings Have His Carcase (1932) Have His Carcase Hangman's Holiday (1933; 12 short stories, 4 including Lord Peter) Hangman's Holiday Murder Must Advertise (1933) Murder Must Advertise The Nine Tailors (1934) The Nine Tailors Gaudy Night (1935) Gaudy Night Busman's Honeymoon (1937) Busman's Honeymoon In the Teeth of the Evidence (1939; 17 short stories, 2 including Lord Peter) In the Teeth of the Evidence Striding Folly (1972; 3 short stories) Striding Folly Thrones, Dominations (1998; begun by Sayers in 1936, completed by Jill Paton Walsh) Thrones, DominationsJill Paton Walsh The Wimsey Papers a series of fictional letters by members of the Wimsey Family The Wimsey Papers
Why read Sayers? Readers are still fascinated with Peter Wimsey Great plots, and great historical/ cultural /social material; but this isn’t the reason It’s the development to the marriage/ conjunctio Frivolous genre with a serious purpose: Active imagination
assumptions Characters are a part of author’s ‘mental furniture’. This doesn’t mean psychoanalysing the author. Reader response/reception is both intellectual and emotional. We are altered by our reading.
II. Jung: Anima and Animus Constructivist or essentialist?
Archetypes Transcendental function : linking conscious and unconscious = Individuation Contrast to Freud’s draining of Zuider Zee: ‘Where id was, there ego shall be’. Active Imagination Jung
The ‘inner pantheon’ (Hillman) These inner figures may be masculine, feminine, animal, androgynous, monstrous … Contrasexual ( animus/a ) is most important
Animus/a vs Shadow Animus/a Part of Collective Unconscious Will never = my ‘ ego ’ Biologically distinct, yet in me; an entirely different world view Shadow Part of personal unconscious Unconscious b/c ‘repressed’ (Freud) Could be made conscious
Polly Young-Eisendrath ‘These contrasexual complexes are organized around the identity archetype of Not-I: the animus or anima is a complex of habitual actions, symbol, image and emotion organized around the core of Other or Not-I in regard to excluded aspects of gender identity.’ (Polly Young-Eisendrath, Hags and Heroes, 31)
Jung on ‘Anima’ Anima = ‘soul’ in a man Projected first, then integrated as the man ‘ individuates ’ ( Animus = ‘spirit/intellect’ in a woman)
Jung, CW 7 ‘So long as the anima is unconscious she is always projected, for everything unconscious is projected. The first bearer of the soul-image is always the mother; later it is borne by those women who arouse the man’s feelings, whether in a positive or negative sense.’ ('Animus and Anima' Collected Works vol.7, 197)
Jung, CW 7 ‘No man is so entirely masculine that he has nothing feminine in him. The fact is, rather, that very masculine men have—carefully guarded and hidden—a very soft emotional life, often incorrectly described as 'feminine.' A man counts it a virtue to repress his feminine traits as much as possible, just as a woman, at least until recently, considered it unbecoming to be ‘“mannish”’. ('Animus and Anima' Collected Works vol. 7,189)
Anima and Persona ‘The persona, the ideal picture of the man as he should be, is inwardly compensated by feminine weakness, and as the individual outwardly plays the strong man, he becomes inwardly the woman, i.e., the anima, for it is the anima that reacts to the persona. ’ ('Animus and Anima' Collected Works vol. 7, 194-5)
INWARD-FACING OUTWARD-FACING (i.e. unconscious) (the 'real world') anima/us >>persona Anima and persona
Anima vs Animus ‘Just as the anima becomes, through integration, the Eros of consciousness, so the animus becomes a Logos ; and in the same way that the anima gives relationship and relatedness to a man’s consciousness, the animus gives to a woman’s consciousness a capacity for reflection, deliberation and self- knowledge.’ ('The Syzygyy' Collected Works vol. 9.2, 17)
‘Such a Strange Lady’ 'In a tribute to Dorothy L. Sayers written after her death C.S. Lewis thanked God not only for her ‘delight and instruction, for her militant loyalty as a friend, for courage and honesty’ but also ‘for the richly feminine qualities which showed through a port and manner superficially masculine and even gleefully ogreish’' (Christine Colon, 156).
IV. Peter Wimsey as Animus Highly intelligent & cultured Lordly, wealthy, privileged Able to role play as needed Highly athletic ‘talks piffle’ Short, not handsome Suffers from shell shock; end-of-case blues A bit of a puer aeternus
Jung on Animus men ‘The men who are particularly suited to these projections are either walking replicas of God himself, who know all about everything, or else they are misunderstood word-addicts, with a vast and windy vocabulary at their command, who translate common or garden reality into the terminology of the sublime.’ ('Animus and Anima' CW vol. 7 207-8)
V. Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane: A 1930s Syzygy in the Making
Strong Poison (1931) Peter saves Harriet from murder charge and falls in love with her She is too wounded by bad love affair and murder charge to want anything but solitude Peter ‘talks piffle’: funny but insensitive
Have His Carcase (1932) Harriet discovers murder victim on beach Peter helps her solve the case They flirt, but still no progress with the affair
Gaudy Night (1935) ‘free indirect discourse’ from Harriet’s point of view
Gaudy Night: themes Reflections on work, marriage, one’s right place in life; education for women London vs Oxford Men vs women Head vs heart: is compromise possible? Madness caused by love or by sexual frustration Shows (eventually) how intelligent, educated people can come together with integrity and honesty
Plot overview Harriet Vane invited to Oxford Gaudy: graduates’ reunion Poison pen disrupts idyllic Oxford Poison pen gets violent: Harriet is invited back Pictures of academic women murdering men Vicious, obscene graffiti Troubled student driven to attempt suicide Physical attack on Harriet (mistaken for Miss de Vine) Some of the women academics: Miss de Vine : cold, hard academic, but with integrity She once accused a man who falsified a historical document Miss Chilperic : shy, girlish; to be married Miss Barton : wrote a book called The Role of Women in Modern Society; the library copy is mutilated Miss Lydgate: a gentle scholar, her MS also gets mutilated Miss Hillyard : man-hater; disappointed in love?
Harriet muses on impossibility of following both head and heart She is sure the culprit is a repressed academic When things get violent, she calls in Peter for help Peter sees immediately that it’s anything but an academic woman…. Annie Wilson, the college Scout, ‘dunnit’ Harriet is horrified—but then reconciled The marriage proposal is finally accepted
Harriet Strong intellect: first at Oxford Independent spirit: writer; earns own money Honesty, integrity: ‘devastating talent for […] speaking the truth’ Unable to pretend to have ‘appropriate’ emotions Not physically beautiful
Harriet’s development Harriet learns more about Peter now: work for Foreign Service Academic credentials: 1 st from Balliol sees him through other women’s eyes She softens own attitudes towards men and marriage, as well as towards herself She admits she’s in love with Peter
Peter’s development Shows vulnerability; apologises for past behaviour Lets Harriet risk own life (it’s hers, not his) No more knight in shining armour! Doesn’t want peace (for self) Doesn’t want peace for Harriet Admires Harriet for her honesty, courage, ‘devastating ability to stick to the point and speak the truth’
Work : do your own, do it well To be true to one’s calling, whatever follies one might commit in one’s emotional life, that was the way to spiritual peace. (p. 25) (To a former fellow student who is a farmers’ wife): 'Look here! I admire you like hell, but I believe you are all wrong. I’m sure one should do one’s own job, however trivial, and not persuade one’s self into doing somebody else’s, however noble.' (p. 41)
Harriet muses on the culprit The warped and repressed mind is apt enough to turn and wound itself. 'Soured virginity'—'unnatural life'—'semi-demented spinsters'--'starved appetites and suppressed impulses'—'unwholesome atmosphere'—she could think of whole sets of epithets, ready minted for circulation. Was this what lived in the tower set on the hill? […] Well, then, what about this business of choosing one way of life? Must one, after all, seek a compromise, merely to preserve one’s sanity? (p.66)
Peter sees Harriet is looking for wrong kind of culprit 'Isn’t it a fact that, having more or less made up your mind to a spot of celibacy you are eagerly peopling the cloister with bogeys? If you want to do without personal relationships, then do without them. Don’t stampede yourself into them by imagining that you’ve got to have them or qualify for Freudian casebook. […] But you can’t keep feelings out of the case. It’s no use saying vaguely that sex is at the bottom of all these phenomena—that’s about as helpful as saying that human nature is at the bottom of them. Sex isn’t a separate thing functioning all away all by itself. It is usually found attached to a person of some sort.' (pp. 266-67) 'My dear, what do you afraid of? The two greatest dangers of the celibate life are forced choice and a vacant mind. Images bombinating in a vacuum breed chimaeras. But you are in no danger. If you want to set up your everlasting rest, you are far more likely to find it in the life of the mind than in the life of the heart.' (p. 267)
Academic integrity: the crucial discussion 'But does anybody here approve? A false statement is published and the man who could correct it let it go, out of charitable considerations. Would anybody here do that? There is your test case, Miss Barton, with no personalities attached.' 'Of course one couldn’t do that,' said Miss Barton. 'Not for ten wives and fifty children.' 'Not for Solomon and all his wives and concubines? I congratulate you, Miss Barton, for striking such a fine, unfeminine note. Will nobody say a word for the women and children?' ('I knew he was going to be mischievous,' thought Harriet.') 'You’d like to hear it, wouldn’t you?' said Miss Hillyard. 'You’ve got us in a cleft stick,' said the Dean. 'If we say yes, you can point out that womanliness unfits us for learning; and if we don’t, you can point out that learning makes us unwomanly.' 'Since I can make myself offensive either way,' said Wimsey, 'you can have nothing to gain by not telling the truth.' 'The truth is', said Miss Goodwin, 'that nobody could possibly defend the indefensible.'
Manly men and womanly women 'In the course of a very interesting after- dinner conversation in this room, [Miss de Vine] informed me that, 6 years ago, she had been instrumental in depriving a man of his reputation and livelihood— and we decided, if you remember, that this was an action which any manly man or womanly woman might be disposed to resent.' (p. 396)
Annie’s rant 'Clear myself! I wouldn’t trouble to clear myself. You smug hypocrites —I’d like to see you bring me into court. I’d laugh in your faces. How would you look, sitting there while I told the judge how that woman they killed my husband? […] You killed him and you didn’t care. I say you murdered him. But what had he done to you? What harm had he done to anybody? He only wanted to live and be happy. You took the bread out of his mouth and flung his children and me out to starve. What did it matter to you? You had no children. You hadn’t a man to care about. […] He told a lie about somebody else who was dead and dust hundreds of years ago. Nobody was the worse for that. Was a dirty bit of paper more important than all our lives and happiness? You broke him and killed him— all for nothing. Do you think that’s a woman’s job? […] A woman’s job is to look after her husband and children. I wish I had killed you. I wish I could kill you all. I wish I could bring down this place and other places like it— were you teach women to take men’s jobs and rob them first and kill them afterwards.' (p.402) [The internalised ‘voice of the patriarchy’ or ‘bad animus’]
Miss de Vine teaches Harriet 'Isn’t it time you faced the facts about that man?' 'I have been facing one fact for some time,' said Harriet, staring out of unseeing eyes into the quad, 'and that is, that if I once gave way to Peter, I should go up like straw.' 'That', said Miss de Vine, dryly, 'is moderately obvious. How often has he used that weapon against you?' 'Never,' said Harriet, remembering the moments when he might have used it. 'Never.' 'What are you afraid of? Yourself?' 'Isn’t this afternoon warning enough?' 'Perhaps. You have had the luck to come up against a very unselfish and a very honest man. He has done what you asked him without caring what it cost him and without shirking the issue. He hasn’t tried to disguise the facts or bias your judgement. You admit that, at any rate.' […] 'I almost wish he had interfered, instead of being so horribly intelligent. It would be quite a relief to be ridden over rough-shod for a change.' 'He will never do that. That’s his weakness. He’ll never make up your mind for you. You’ll have to make your own decisions. You needn’t be afraid of losing your independence; he will always force it back on you. If you ever find any kind of repose with him, it can only be the repose of very delicate balance.' (pp. 406-7)
animus ‘bad’: ‘voice of patriarchy’: dividing manly men from womanly women; projecting the qualities of the ‘other’ ‘good’: integrating the contrasexual properties within oneself; withdrawing the projections
Harriet’s unfinished sonnet Here then at home, by no more storms distrest, Holding laborious as hands we sit, wings furled; Here in close perfume lies the rose-leaf curled, Here the sun stands and knows not east nor west, Here no tide runs; we have come, last and best, From the wide zone in dizzying circles hurled To that still centre where the spinning world Sleeps on its axis, to the heart of rest.
…which Peter finishes for her Lay on thy whips, love, that we upright, Poised on the perilous point, in no lax bed May sleep, as tension at the verberant core Of music sleeps; if thou spare to smite, Staggering, we stoop, stooping, fall dumb and dead, And, dying, so, sleep as we sleep no more.
Counterpoint not harmony 'Peter—what did you mean when you said that anybody could have the harmony if they would leave us the counterpoint?' 'Why,' he said, shaking his head, but that I like my music polyphonic. If you think I meant anything else, you know what I meant.' 'Polyphonic music takes a lot of playing. You’ve got to be more than a fiddler. It needs a musician.' 'In this case, two fiddlers—both musicians.'
Peter in Sayers’s psyche ‘Peter Wimsey had not left her when she ceased to write about him; in 1937 she described him as a permanent resident in the house of her mind, and she said she found herself bringing all her actions and opinions to the bar of his silent criticism.’ (Jill Paton Walsh, afterword to Thrones, Dominations, 366)
Religious and other works The Zeal of Thy House (1937) The Devil to Pay (1939) The Mind of the Maker (1941) ‘The Human-Not-Quite-Human’ (1941) Creed or Chaos (1949) Translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy (from 1949)