Dorothy Sayers on “the Drama of the Soul’s Choice”

Today’s quote from Dorothy Sayers comes from her introduction to her translation of The Divine Comedy by Dante Aligheieri.

She encourages us to recognize, and be accountable for, our wrong choices.

“The drama of the soul’s choice”

We must also be prepared, while we are reading Dante, to abandon any idea that we are the slaves of chance, or environment, or our subconscious; any vague notion that good and evil are merely relative terms, or that conduct and opinion do not really matter: any comfortable persuasion that, however shiftlessly we muddle through life, it will somehow or other all come right.

…The Divine Comedy is precisely the drama of the soul’s choice. ~ Dorothy Sayers

Related Bible Verses

“Then you will remember your past sins and despise yourselves for all the detestable things you did.” ~ Ezekiel 36:31 (NLT)

“Seek the Lord while you can find him. Call on him now while he is near.  Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong. Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously.” ~ Isaiah 55:6-7 (NLT)

“We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins.”  ~ Romans 3:22-24 (NLT)

Dorothy L. Sayers (1893–1957)

Dorothy Sayers was intelligent, witty, and accomplished.  Her writing has been compared to Jane Austen. She published fourteen novels (and short stories) around Lord Peter Wimsey, her hero in her detective stories. She dismissed the idea that she was trying to make a point by being one of the first women to write mysteries, she liked the genre and needed some income.

She translated the poetry of Tristan of Thomas from medieval French and taught herself old Tuscan so she could translate Dante’s The Divine Comedy, which apparently remains the most influential translation today.

Dorothy Sayers’ friends included C. S. Lewis and T. S. Eliot. She was also a popular lecturer.

Dorothy Sayers: “The only Christian work is good work, well done.” (Click to Tweet this quote)


  • I found the first quote about our choices in Medieval Wisdom for Modern Christians on page 115. The original  is in Dorothy Sayers’ introduction to The Divine Comedy 1: Hell, by Dante Aligheieri, trans. Dorothy L. Sayers (Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 1949), 11.
  • The final quote in this post is from The Dorothy L. Sayers Society’s biography page. I recommend this biography for her accomplishments.
  • Also learn more about Dorothy Sayers in Christian Today’s biography, which looks into her private life and character.

public domainThis image, Charon, The Ferryman of Hell, is in the public domain and is one of many illustrations by Gustave Doré for Dante’s The Divine Comedy.


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