The Performance Begins Her(e): The Auto/Biographical Sayers

  • Crystal Downing


In Thrones, Dominations, a Peter Wimsey novel that Sayers never finished, a husband watches restlessly as his wife awaits the completion of her portrait. The painter complains, “He looks at my picture, and he looks at his wife, and that puzzles him. He looks at her again a long time, and he does not know that what he sees is not there at all.” The husband has projected an idealized image onto his wife, an artificial representation that she believes in as well, for “when she looks in the mirror, she too does not see at all what is there.”1 Sayers implies that perceptions can be shaped by expectation, such that seeing itself becomes a scripted performance. She makes the same point in The Documents in the Case, where an artist paints two very different women, both of whom do “not see” how they appear to others (53, 56). Here, however, the artist does “not see” as well, failing to recognize how the paintings reveal his own prejudices about the two women.


Artificial Representation Artist Paint Writing Performance Detective Fiction Festive Occasion 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Copyright information

© Crystal Downing 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Crystal Downing

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations