Friday, March 4, 2011

Rue de la Paix

Dorothy L. Sayers was one of the first women to be awarded a degree by the University of Oxford. She is most famous as a writer of detective fiction, much of it both stylish and funny.

I quote here, however, a rather unfortunate passage from Clouds of Witness (1926). The offending clause, so casual and gratuitous, may have passed in the 1920s, but strikes us today as totally unacceptable.

A detective is making inquiries at a jeweller's shop in the Rue de la Paix:

The majority of the staff failed to recognize the photograph, and Parker was at the point of putting it back in his pocket-book when a young lady, who had just finished selling an engagement ring to an obese and elderly Jew, arrived, and said, without any hesitation: 
'Mais oui, je l'ai vu, ce monsieur-là. It is the Englishman who bought a diamond cat for the jolie blonde.'