By John Hertz: I’m a big fan of Dorothy L. Sayers’ translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy.
Even Gillian Polack agrees the annotations are superb.
Larry Niven says the Comedy is S-F, but what do I know?
Sayers (1893-1957) wrote a lot of other fine things, non-fiction and fiction. She earned first-class honours at Oxford (1915), pioneering for a woman then.
This passage from Five Red Herrings (1931) strikes me as pertinent just now. Her fictional detective Lord Peter Wimsey (younger son of a Duke, thus formally “Lord Peter”; “Wimsey” to his friends) is in Scotland talking with Hugh Farren (ch. 20; I use U.S.-style quotation marks).
“Wimsey, you’re rich; and there’s nothing to stop you from doing what you like. Why do you trouble to be respectable?”
“…. I get my fun out of it.”
“I know you do,” said Farren, looking at him in a puzzled way. “It’s odd. You create an illusion of liberty. Is it money? Or is it being unmarried? But there are plenty of unmarried men who –”
“Aren’t we wandering slightly from the subject?” said Wimsey.