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Jerry Pournelle, Sloth and Dorothy L. Sayers

Posted by on November 26, 2013

Jerry Pournelle is not on the list of authors I just wrote as an introduction to the Bill’s Books page section (which I had forgotten to do, so for years it only had the titles of a few books and nothing else; the sins of the self-publisher come back to haunt you). But I think that’s because I’ve read so little of his work. What I have read back in the day (“Inferno,” “Footfall”) I enjoyed immensely. That’s the tragedy of this life; that even the most dedicated reader doesn’t have enough time to read all the worthy books of the world.

Sloth can be a sin in the eyes of some. Your boss, for instance.

Sloth can be a sin in the eyes of some. Your boss, for instance.

Anyway, amid discussions of the collapsing Obama presidency and the Middle East being left to fend for itself, he discusses an email from a reader about Dorothy L. Sayers’ lecture on how sloth is a deadly sin.

In the world it calls itself Tolerance; but in hell it is called Despair. It is the accomplice of the other sins and their worst punishment. It is the sin which believes in nothing, cares for nothing, seeks to know nothing, interferes with nothing, enjoys nothing, loves nothing, hates nothing, finds purpose in nothing.[sic] lives for nothing, and only remains alive because there is nothing it would die for. We have known it far too well for many years. The only thing perhaps that we have not known about it is that it is mortal sin.

While researching the Wimsey Annotations, I’ve had occasion to dip into the excellent biography by Barbara Reynolds, and the several volumes of letters (including a couple published by the Sayers Society). Sayers seemed to be always up for a good argument, and the clarity of her vision and command of facts made her a dangerous adversary to tangle with. I don’t know how she would have taken to the Internet, but I certainly wouldn’t have been dull.

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One Response to Jerry Pournelle, Sloth and Dorothy L. Sayers

  1. Steve O

    My only reading of Pournelles is Mote in Gods Eye-which he wrote with Larry Niven. My enjoyment of the novel was spoiled by terrible dialogue and blatant sexism.(The main female character upon meeting the ships captain spends the rest of the book thinking of marriage and children.)

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