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The Mind of the Maker Paperback – September 23, 1987


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; Reprint edition (September 23, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060670770
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060670771
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #102,644 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Best known for her Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries, Dorothy Sayers was also a playwright, essayist, and a translator of Dante. C.S. Lewis said that he liked her "for the extraordinary zest and edge of her conversation--as I like a high wind." The reader gets a fair taste of that wind in this book, her study of the human (and divine) creative process. Beginning with some stingingly humorous words for the education process (which has produced, she says, "a generation of mental slatterns") she then explores the Trinitarian nature of creativity. Here she identifies the Christian concept of the Holy Trinity--God, Son, Holy Spirit--with three elements of creation. First, the Idea: "passionless, timeless, beholding the whole work complete at once, the end in the beginning"; then the Creative Energy: "begotten of that idea, working in time from the beginning to end," manifesting the Idea in matter; and finally the Creative Power: "the meaning of the work and its response in the lively soul"--in essence, what she calls "the indwelling Spirit."

In a plain, matter-of-fact style that readers will recognize from her mysteries, she reflects on the question of free will and miracle, evil, and, ultimately, "the worth of the work." It is especially here, I think, in this final chapter that the book remains both timeless and profoundly timely. The artist stands for the true worker, she writes, who, while requiring payment for his work, as an artist "retains so much of the image of God that he is in love with his creation for its own sake." So too, ultimately, should it be for all human work: "That the eyes of all workers should behold the integrity of the work is the sole means to make that work good in itself and so good for mankind. This is only another way of saying that the work must be measured by the standard of eternity." --Doug Thorpe

About the Author

Dorothy L. Sayers was born in 1893. She was one of the first women to be awarded a degree by Oxford University, and later she became a copywriter at an ad agency. In 1923 she published her first novel featuring the aristocratic detective Lord Peter Wimsey, who became one of the world's most popular fictional heroes. She died in 1957.


More About the Author

Dorothy L. Sayers (1893-1957) was a playwright, scholar, and acclaimed author of mysteries, best known for her books starring the gentleman sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey.

Born in Oxford, England, Sayers, whose father was a reverend, grew up in the Bluntisham rectory and won a scholarship to Oxford University where she studied modern languages and worked at the publishing house Blackwell's, which published her first book of poetry in 1916.

Years later, working as an advertising copywriter, Sayers began work on Whose Body?, a mystery novel featuring dapper detective Lord Peter Wimsey. Over the next two decades, Sayers published ten more Wimsey novels and several short stories, crafting a character whose complexity was unusual for the mystery novels of the time.

In 1936, Sayers brought Lord Peter Wimsey to the stage in a production of Busman's Honeymoon, a story which she would publish as a novel the following year. The play was so successful that she gave up mystery writing to focus on the stage, producing a series of religious works culminating in The Man Born to Be King (1941) a radio drama about the life of Jesus.

She also wrote theological essays and criticism during and after World War II, and in 1949 published the first volume of a translation of Dante's Divine Comedy (which she considered to be her best work).

Dorothy Sayers died of a heart attack in 1957.

Customer Reviews

The analogy applies equally well to all art forms.
Tom Simon
When you think about theological concepts just as concepts, they can be very hard to grasp.
Brad Shorr
This is the first of Dorothy Sayers' theological books I've read.
C. T. Mikesell

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

63 of 64 people found the following review helpful By C. T. Mikesell on October 17, 2004
Format: Paperback
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.
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48 of 50 people found the following review helpful By A. Doug Floyd VINE VOICE on August 3, 1999
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Brandon Colas on May 16, 2004
Format: Paperback
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.
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29 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Brad Shorr on December 29, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Sayers starts with the orthodox concept of the Trinity and suggest that the mind of man as creator is analogous. By examining the mind of man as creator and the work he creates, we can acquire a better understanding of the Holy Trinity. While this might seem outlandish at first, it works! When you think about theological concepts just as concepts, they can be very hard to grasp. But Sayers uses concrete examples to illustrate theological concepts, and avoids the temptation to overextend her analogy. She concentrates mainly on the writer-creator, since she herself is a writer. Her insights on the creative process of writing are almost as interesting as the light they shed on the nature of God. These insights go well beyond the concept of the Trinity--she offers an interesting perspective on the existence of evil, free will, and much more. I've never read anything like this.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Tom Simon on December 5, 2005
Format: Paperback
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.
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