She worked away happily till half-past-ten; the racket in the passage calmed down; words flowed smoothly. From time to time she looked up from her paper, hesitating for a word, and saw through the window the lights of Burleigh and Queen Elizabeth burning back across the quad, counterparts of her own. Many of them, no doubt, illumined cheerful parties, like the one in the Annexe; others lent their aid to people who, like herself, were engaged in the elusive pursuit of knowledge, covering paper with ink and hesitating now and again over a word. She felt herself to be a living part of a community engaged in a common purpose. (145)
I’m writing on Dorothy Sayers’s Gaudy Night for my Cultures of Modernism class and finding it strange to think about academic life in this context. Sayers’s descriptions of campus culture are idyllic, comforting: cozy one might even say — even her descriptions of all-night writing sessions that end in futility. I find myself encountering these passages with a bit of longing: I want that life.
And then I have to check myself. I have that life. Even now, I’m spending my nights writing (it mostly feels) futilely. And it’s not anything as cozy and idyllic as Harriet Vane says it is. Still, I’m being seduced by the myth of academia at the very same time that I’m experiencing its very myth-iness. (Er…experiencing the lie of the myth?)
How very self-alienating!
24 April 2011 ~ Hamilton
Sayers, Dorothy. Gaudy Night. London: Victor Gollancz, 1958. print.