08 October 2011

A Guide to Dorothy Sayers III

I've been conducting a review of the allusions that Dorothy Sayer introduced in her plan for a hypothetical poem. These are references drawn largely, though not entirely, from British history of the late 19th and early 20th century.  Let us continue:

the Lady with the Lamp, this is clearly a reference to Florence Nightingale (1820-1910), the founder of nursing as a profession.

the Lady-with-the-Lampshade-made-of-Human-Skin, The story arose out of Buchenwald originally, that the medical personnel were making human souvenirs for themselves and taking them home, and that among these were lampshades made out of human skin. The specifics can't be substantiated, but the "lampshade" story made it into a documentary re: Buchenwald made by director Billy Wilder.  Presumably the "lady" Sayers has in mind here was a hausfrau of one of those medical death-camp types.

Titus Oates (1649-1705) -- an Anglican priest who converted to Roman Catholicism in 1677, and thereafter told various tales about a supposed "popish plot" to assassinate King Charles II to which he had become privy. His accusations led to at least 15 executions. Eventually the government decided that Oates had been a perjurer, that the whole plot had been his invention, and he was imprisoned.

Captain Oates (1880 - 1912) -- An antarctic explorer.  He decided during a disastrous expedition that there weren't enough supplies for the group of four -- and he sacrified himself -- walking out of the tent into a blizzard and certain death.

Quisling -- a reference to Vidkun Quisling (1887-1945) a Norwegian politican who assisted Nazi Germany in the take-over of his country, and who was executed by firing squad soon after the fall of the collaborationist regime.

the Owner of 'Hermit', --  Hermit, a race horse, won the 1867 Epsom Derby, a race held in a snowstorm. His owner was Henry Chaplin (1840 - 1923), a Tory politician known for his advocacy of protectionist trade policies regarding agriculture.

the French Bluebeard -- Henri Désiré Landru (1869-1922), a serial killer convicted of and executed for the murder of ten women between 1915 and 1919.

Bacon -- Francis Bacon (1561-1626) -- English lawyer, statesman, and philosopher, known for his description of induction, which is still sometimes called the "Baconian method."

Roger Bacon (1214-1294) -- Franciscan friar, author of a work on the place of philosophy within theology, which he sent to Pope Clement in 1265. This Opus Majus also includes a notable discussion of the science of optics.

Roger Fry  (1866 - 1934), an art critic, and a member of the Bloomsbury group, stressed the formal properties of works of art at the expense of the "associated ideas."

the Claimant -- this may be a reference to Lambert Simnel (c. 1477 - c. 1525)  who as the dust was finally setling after the War of Roses claimed to be the Earl of Warwick, a claim that threatened to ignite the war again.

the Bishop of Zanzibar, Frank Weston (1871 - 1924)  the Anglican Bishop of Zanzibar (1908 - 1924) became involved in an intense dispute over whether Anglican clerics should administer sacraments to members of non-conforming Christian congregations such as Methodists, Presbyterians, etc.  Weston accused of heresy those who did want to admit the non-conformists.

Clarence Hatry, (1888-1965) a stock speculator who, to support a failing position in 1929, forged a series of municipal bonds. He was sentenced to 14 years in jail in 1930.

I hope to finish this up tomorrow.

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Knowledge is warranted belief -- it is the body of belief that we build up because, while living in this world, we've developed good reasons for believing it. What we know, then, is what works -- and it is, necessarily, what has worked for us, each of us individually, as a first approximation. For my other blog, on the struggles for control in the corporate suites, see www.proxypartisans.blogspot.com.