The University is a Paradise.

I finished Gaudy Night last night . . . my summer class has made reading somewhat difficult, but it will be over in a week and a half, so I expect my books read to skyrocket in July.

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that one of our fellow concert-goers did not have what I thought to be proper concert etiquette. At the time, I considered quoting from Gaudy Night, but was too lazy to get the book off of the shelf. So I will quote from it now, as it is still on the couch here beside me (I don’t know where to put it . . . the rest of our books are packed. I miss you, books). I will go ahead and confess that this paragraph shapes quite a lot of what I consider to be proper concert etiquette.

He was wrapt in the motionless austerity with which all genuine musicians listen to genuine music. Harriet was musician enough to respect this aloofness; she knew well enough that the ecstatic rapture on the face of the man opposite meant only that he was hoping to be thought musical, and that the elderly lady over the way, waving her fingers to the beat, was a musical moron. She knew enough, herself, to read the sounds a little with her brains, laboriously unwinding the twined chains of melody link by link. Peter, she felt sure, could hear the whole intricate pattern, every part separately and simultaneously, each independent and equal, separate but inseparable, moving over and under and through, ravishing heart and mind together.

You guys, I just love Dorothy Sayers. Maybe she is being too judgy in this passage, but . . . “unwinding the chains of melody link by link?” That is some gorgeous stuff right there. Gaudy Night is a book that has meant a lot to me as a woman, a scholar, and a feminist, and this is one of the paragraphs that has left its mark on me. I know that I am no genuine musician, but I try to be respectful of those around me who can appreciate the intricacies of music when I am attending a live concert. And that was what I was trying to say – the woman who annoyed me with her exuberance was, according to Dorothy sayers at least, probably not even really enjoying the music, but wanted to be seen enjoying it, to be thought of as musical.

I find something different every time I read the book, and while I remember this section, it stood out to me this time. Harriet is discussing her relationship with Peter, how Peter has watched her wrestle with her demons and been respectful enough not to interfere or force himself into the situation, despite the fact that he loves her.

“Yes. I almost wish he had interfered, instead of being so horribly intelligent. It would be quite a relief to be ridden over rough-shod for a change.”

“He will never do that. That’s his weakness. He’ll never make up your mind for you. You’ll have to make your own decisions. You needn’t be afraid of losing your independence; he will always force it back on you. If you ever find any kind of repose with him, it can only be the repose of very delicate balance.”

Perhaps this paragraph left its mark, too, without me knowing it, because those are things I would say about Mike, as well. I wouldn’t say that Mike reminds me of Lord Peter in any way except this: when I have tried to abdicate certain decisions or decision-making processes, he makes it clear that he expects me to act as an equal partner. He always encourages me to think for myself and to work out my problems without trying to fix them for me. It is a delicate balance, and one that I appreciate about our relationship. He has, esentially, asked me to grow up and expected a lot from me over the past few years, and his faith in me has helped me live up to his expectations.

There are so many new and unread books on my list that sometimes I don’t have time to squeeze in the old favorites. But this was the right decision for me, to pick up this book. I am always sad when it is over. Usually I move straight on through to Busman’s Honeymoon. And I would have this time, too. Except it’s already packed up.

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