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HUMANITIES 283 Gambino eschews the footnotes and intratextual source citations of the professional historian, choosing, instead, merely to list, at the end of the book, the articles, books, documents, unpublished theses and dissertations, and newspapers consulted. The relative absence of scholarly paraphernalia within the text itself allows the historical narrative to unfold smoothly, but it permits no easy mans to verify assertions or to double-check quotations. Despite this signal weakness, Vendetta is a principaland principled work of cultural studies. It wipes away the milk-white pus of liberal democratic hypocrisy to reveal the raw, sc.arlet wound of class warfare masquerading as racism. Moreover, it warns us of the frightening ease with which stateempowered majorities may foment homicidal hysterias against any identifiable minority they choose to threaten. (GEORGE ELLIOTT CLARKE) Janice Brown. The Seven Deadly Sins in the Work of Dorothy L. Sayers Kent State University Press. x, 346. $35.00 In the last twenty years Kent State University Press has published five books about Dorothy Sayers - and a number of others about the group which called itself the Inklings. Janice Brown's study of Sayers is the most recent book from this press. The Inklings included no women in their meetings at Magdalen, and at least one of them expressed doubts about Sayers as an intellectual. C.S. Lewis would probably not be happy to know that her work is collected with his (and that of Charles Williams, J.R.R. Tolkien, Owen Barfield, G.K. Chestertonf and George MacDonald) at the Marion Wade Center at Wheaton Col1ege in Illinois. Janice Brown, who has worked at the Wade Center, makes nearly nothing of the possible relationship of her subject to those who share the Center's space with Sayersf nor does she reflect on what might lie behind t~e Press's interest in the group or in Wheaton's collection. They also issue a journal, the Seven, named for the authors, not for the Sins. Like those they collect, Wheaton wants to combine its mission as a Christian educational institution with respectable writers who combined their religious positions - Anglican, theosophical, or Roman Catholic - with fiction, fantasy, and imaginatively realized accounts of theology. Sometimes (as Brown does consistently, for Sin and the Sins) they emphasize arguments by capitalization; like Lewis in his famous account of the characteristics of Courtly Love. Their work, from the gloomyspaces of parts ofThe Fellowship ofthe Ring to the apocalyptic novels of Charles Williams, is vividly aware of the presence of evil. So is Sayers, in the work specifically aimed at moral or theological conversion. And she speaks quite directly of the Seven Deadly Sins, without having, as Brown does, Morton Bloomfield to guide her in a rather unnecessary account of her central trope. Brown's search is rewarded by some of Sayers's non- 284 LETTERS IN CANADA 1998 fiction prose works. The difficulty is that even Sayers's religious drama is by no means so schematized as Brown's rendition tries to insist. Does anyone short of a preacher (does even an especially persuasive preacher) really find him- or herself engaged by the Sins (or, for that matter, by their opposed Virtues)? Deadly sins, unlike the venial ones with which our ordinary days are marked, are the stuff of crime novels. We read them, I suppose, because we are drawn to these contained worlds of evil. It feeds aUf need for control and order to have a detective (always with special fascinations or gifts) able to effect that order. Sayers's best-known work (and it makes up half of . Brown's book) is her detective fiction. But even if we read detective stories for their displaced wickedness and satisfying solutions, we do not, I would venture, hunt through the Wimsey novels in search of materials for schemas. They are full of bad folk, and their badness can (Brown has done it) be sorted into classifications. The question is, does anyone but Brown do this, and when she has done it are we any farther ahead in our comprehension of that world Sayers created for a witty aristocrat with a passion for incunabula and Bach and a cleverness about sorting outwrongdoing which...


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pp. 283-284
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