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A few weeks ago, I was feeling pretty satisfied with myself, reflecting on how bright I seem to be and congratulating myself for my felicity with words. When I start to get that feeling, I realize that it's time to revisit my collection of Lord Peter Wymsey volumes. I always prepare by making sure that all of my dictionaries are easily at hand, for no matter how many times I've read the books, Ms. Sayers is going to force me to the dictionaries within a few short pages. Four weeks with Lord Peter and my dictionaries is nearly always a humbling experience. Among other things, I know I will, without question, learn more about English bell change ringing than I ever thought I needed to know. And I will have dipped rather deeply into a particular part of the England of the twenties and thirties far better than reading a history of the period. And I will have been entertained in the process.

When I've finished all the novels, I realize that I'm not nearly as bright as I thought I was and that my apparent felicity was imagined, at best. It also never fails to bring home to me the realization that while I can string words together reasonably well, I'll never be a consummate writer.

Thank you, Ms. Sayers. Someday, perhaps I'll feel that I might be up to reading your essays.

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