The Performance Begins Her(e): The Auto/Biographical Sayers
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.
KeywordsArtificial Representation Artist Paint Writing Performance Detective Fiction Festive Occasion
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