Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Dorothy and Jack: The Transforming Friendship of Dorothy L. Sayers and C.S. Lewis by Gina Dalfonzo

In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out.— C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves
I remember being surprised and interested to learn that Dorothy Sayers and C.S. Lewis were friends who exchanged comments about writing and many other things in their acquaintance. I was intrigued by the idea of what the famous mystery writer and a famous Inkling had to discuss. That's because, while I knew a lot about C.S. Lewis's life, I knew only the basics about Dorothy Sayers. I'd forgotten that when she'd taken the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries as far as she felt she could, Sayers turned to writing theological books and plays, translating Dante, and in general serving her Christian faith. So, of course, she and Lewis were on the same path.

This book does a good job of tracking their friendship, what it meant to each of them, and how they supported and critiqued each other's work. It also does a good job of giving brief but comprehensive biographies for each, so I learned a lot more about Sayers' life. And, in the context of that friendship, it helped me see C.S. Lewis more clearly.

There is an emphasis throughout holding up Sayers' and Lewis's friendship as an ideal proving that men and women can be friends without succumbing to sexual attraction. The idea that my friendship with a man would lead to us automatically flinging ourselves into each other's arms was a very strange idea to me. I understand prudently keeping an eye on anything that might strike a spark. It is a very rare circumstance in my experience. I actually tend to have as many male as female friends. However, I discovered it is evidently a well known assumption in some Evangelical circles. So much so that you should've seen the Facebook page for the book launch light up with passionate (haha) arguments about the book promoting incorrect ideas. It doesn't detract from the book overall but it is an odd thread woven throughout. And I suppose if this is a thing you care about, then this book will be of extra interest.

All things considered, I enjoyed filling in the story of these strong-minded but mutually respectful famous friends. Their friendship is the sort that I have with a few people myself and I liked reading it.

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