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Paperback The Mind of the Maker Book

ISBN: 0060670770

ISBN13: 9780060670771

The Mind of the Maker

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Book Overview

Dorothy L Sayers' great lay contemporaries in the Church of England were T. S. Eliot, C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams, but none of them wrote a book quite like The Mind of the Maker. In this crisp,... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

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A glimpse of God, but a full-dress study of Man

Contrary to popular belief, this is not primarily a book about God. Sayers wisely does not try to tell us about God directly, but about what is godlike in ourselves. 'The characteristic common to God and man,' she says, is 'the desire and ability to make things.' She draws a vivid and detailed analogy between the Christian Trinity and our own creative imagination. In working out the details of this analogy, she tells us a great deal about them both; but, inevitably, more about our own minds than God's. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit correspond to what Sayers calls the Idea, Energy, and Power. For a writer, the Idea is the book as he first imagines it; the Energy is the book as actually written; the Power is the impression it makes in the mind of each reader. The analogy applies equally well to all art forms. Sayers makes the Trinity seem as plain and familiar as a conversation. If you ever knew what you wanted to say but couldn't find the words, you felt the difference between the Father and the Son. If someone took your words to mean something you never intended, you felt the distance between the Son and the Spirit. Critics may say the Trinity is not real, but they can never again call it incomprehensible. The rest of the book concentrates on the purely human maker. The longest chapter, 'Scalene Trinities', discusses the ways that the creative imagination can go wrong, and classifies them as failures of the Idea, the Energy, or the Power. I find this the most useful part of the book. Whatever kind of work we do, we find it all too easy to become obsessed with technical details (the Energy). We almost forget that we are trying to express an Idea, and so our work loses the Power to benefit other people. We need to be fully aware of all three parts of the process. The Mind of the Maker is a brilliant book. But if you read it just for its theology, you will miss two-thirds of the brilliance. It has still more value as a guide to human creativity. If you are a Christian, or if you do any kind of creative work, this book will do your mind good.


In Dorothy L. Sayers' book, The Mind of the Maker, between a fantastic discussion on creative writing (detective fiction, primarily) the author addresses two of the biggest sociological questions: "Who am I?" and "Why am I here?" The answer to the first question is simply: a human created in God's image. The answer to the second question is a bit more complex, as Sayers first explores what God's image is, particularly the triune nature of the Christian deity. By comparing The Creator to an artist (primarily a creative writer, Sayers' forte), Sayers shows the purpose of life to be that of a creator as well. While Sayers' analogy works best for those with an already artistic temperament, in her final chapters she addresses the question of what happens if you work on a toilet assembly line or some equally unglamorous profession. In the case of the toilet assembler, Sayers suggests that while he or she may simply be turning a screw, what's really being created is a more sanitary and hygienic world. She observes that individuals need to separate the value of money from the value of the work (why both capitalism and communism are, she says, ultimately dehumanizing) and find a higher purpose in one's occupation instead. While rethinking one's purpose may be the over-all goal of the book, it certainly isn't the only subject addressed. The origin of evil, the difference between human and universal laws, free will, and some of the ancient creeds come up for discussion. If you've been confused by the topic of the Trinity, Sayers provides one of the best analogies I've ever read. If you've been stymied by skeptics accusing the church of casting God in man's image (instead of the other way 'round), Sayers' response alone is worth the purchase price of the book. This is the first of Dorothy Sayers' theological books I've read. I've been a fan of her Lord Peter Wimsey detective novels, and read about this book in one of her biographies. I began reading the book expecting a treatise on creative writing, but was pleased to find so much more.


Although some would say this is more of a theological work than literary criticism, I believe it functions as a blend between the two. Sayers' main thesis is that spiritual metaphors, such as the Trinity, are facts which explain how the world functions. Sayers then shows how spiritual metaphors can be understood as metaphors of the artist's creative activity. Of special note: her theodicy is one of the strongest I've read, and her suggestions for the redemptive value of art (at the end of the book) are superb. If you're a Christian, this is worth your time. If you're not, but are willing to be challenged, you'll probably like this book too.

Excellent! Amazing discussion of the creative process.

Sayers' uses the analogy of the creative process to explore the trinity, transcendence vs immanence of God, and other diffucult theological concepts. Her discussion not only enlightens our understanding of God, it has interesting implications for the creative process in general.
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