Comment of the Day: Weekend Reading: George Orwell: Review of Dorothy L. Sayers's: Gaudy Night: "Since I consider Gaudy Night, for all its flaws...:
...to be one of the best books ever written about women and education I really don't accept Orwell's analysis. Of course its true that the format of the book, and of LPW and HV's romance, is basically nothing more than Cinderella with murder--he's not entirely wrong. But, nevertheless, the book is a very well written exploration of a certain kind of woman's dilemma, and the dilemma of educated women in this period. And it's not one anyone but a woman would have written.
Maybe LPW functions as a capitalist deux ex machina but he also serves as a patron to the arts and letters--the patron who exists, invisibly, for men at the Colleges for men. The patron who is absent, for women,from women's colleges and who is mourned in A Room of One's Own (implicitly). What Wimsey takes for granted--that there is employment and respect for scholars is something that the women in the book need to fight for. That Harriet herself has fought a lonely fight for. You could see the marriage as 'Harriet gets a patron' but she demonstrates all through that she has a fierce independence and will pay for herself--indeed she continues writing throughout their marriage.
What she accepts, at the end of the book, is that Wimsey has a true love and respect for her as an equal. From a woman's point of view that is to be celebrated.