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The Mind of the Maker

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  1,753 ratings  ·  158 reviews
This classic, with a new introduction by Madeleine L'Engle, is by turns an entrancing mediation on language; a piercing commentary on the nature of art and why so much of what we read, hear, and see falls short; and a brilliant examination of the fundamental tenets of Christianity. The Mind of the Maker will be relished by those already in love with Dorothy L. Sayers and those ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published September 23rd 1987 by HarperOne (first published January 1st 1941)
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Sep 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
I finally read it! I'm not sure how much of it sank into my sleep-deprived brain, but the bits I remember were excellent. Sayers thinks of the craft of writing much the same way I have for years, but far more systematically and in far greater depth.
Mar 02, 2019 rated it liked it
The author's preface is fantastic and so very relevant for our modern wars — first published in 1941!
Sadly I rushed through this one, so I feel that much of it went over my head.
The writing had good stuff in it, but it didn’t knock me out of the park. While Sayers’s meandering train of thought is good, I couldn’t always see the point behind it. I’ll need to revisit portions of this someday.
The postscript is a treatise against socialism, oddly enough.
Very glad I own this o
Jun 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: theology, work
I've always wanted to read Dorothy Sayers, so I finally did. This was an interesting book. Some of her observations are brilliant. She talks about how people think God is mysterious and argues, basically, that everything is mysterious. Her main point is that we see the Trinity echoed in how humans create. A writer or artist has an idea in her head, then puts this idea on paper and then this piece of art is received by someone else. In some way this images the Christian view of Trinity. Personall ...more
Sep 30, 2016 marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
I'm a huge fan of the Lord Peter books and her essay "Are Women Human?" was really interesting - so I figured I'd give this a try despite not being the least bit religious.

She starts off in her intro with griping about the reading comprehension skills of those who disagreed with her previous essay - stating that it was not a matter of opinion, it was a statement of doctrine. It feels a bit like entering an argument en media res, but that's not so uncommon in intros.

In the
Aug 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: writers
Recommended to Amy by: Jasmine...I think?
I've waffled back and forth between four and five stars for this one. I love Sayers's writing and her approach to the Trinity intrigued me. Even better, not only did I learn about a theological concept, I got to learn more about the writing and creative process. I was forced to think more deeply about what it means to be made in the image of God and I love that Sayers tackles our "analogy" of God as a Creator. Very interesting and thought provoking.
There were some really fabulous quotes an
Nov 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
What is godlike in ourselves? Sayers conveys her thoughts as to how humans are made "in the image of God." She explains that the first thing we are told about God (through His Word) is that "God created...." and artists also "create..." We are most like our God when we exhibit his love and our work in a “finite” yet glorious way while we create something -- whether it is a story, a song, a painting, a sculpture, a photo, or dance.

Her theory that humans are each a trinity unto ourselv
Kelsey Bryant
It's really amazing how Sayers makes us understand certain mysterious aspects of God through examining the creative process of the artist's mind. I was able to identify with much of what Sayers says about writers, which was exciting (and ennobling!). There were such gems: "as an artist, he retains so much of the image of God that he is in love with his creation for its own sake."

I also really enjoyed her statements about what makes a book or play into a well-written work of art, such as: "if th
Aug 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: writers and readers
Shelves: wry-ting
Well Mrs. Sayers... you sound like Lewis and Chesterton. That's a very good and, at times, a somewhat frustrating characteristic.

She writes on art, man, and God. Sayers has much good to say and said it well, but her conception of God's sovereingty and the free will of men seems haphazard.

The most enjoyable chapter in this book was entitled "Scalene Trinities." This was an elucidation of her theory for literary criticism as well as a defense of the Trinitarian doctrine in Christianit
Abigail Hartman
Sep 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: christianity
I don't have a proper Goodreads bookshelf for this: it's an exposition of the Trinity, but it's also just what the title says - a look into the workings of the creative, or artistic, mind. Sayers plainly states the doctrine of the Trinity and then proceeds to show how the mind of a human creator follows the same pattern of the Godhead: Father-Idea, Son-Energy, and Spirit-Power. She defends an admittedly cloudy doctrine in clear terms, traces the workings of the human mind in creation, and delive ...more
Mar 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
fantastic, this is one of those books that has shifted my way of seeing God work and the world. Sayers helped to see the heresies that my personality predisposes me to believe. that is a great gift.
Oct 07, 2018 rated it liked it
You know that stereotypical breakup line – it’s not you, it’s me? I feel like I might owe that to Ms. Sayers.

I can think of no one to whom I would recommend this book. Sayers’ ideas are dense and heady and full of literary allusions that often were lost on me (not to mention the significant number of words I didn’t know). When I understood her, I found her interesting and insightful and even funny. But the simple fact is I couldn’t understand or follow her an unfortunate amount of th
Daniel Schwabauer
Mar 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thought-provoking and encouraging, but heady

Fans of Chesterton and Lewis, particularly writers, will enjoy this exploration of the creative spirit by a master thinker. The style is consistently one of deep thought, though not obtuse.
May 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This happens to be one of my favorite books. I reread it often and have kind of a semi-tradition of starting it on Trinity Sunday. I find Sayers' analogies helpful in thinking both about theology and about writing.
Sherwood Smith
This was the first book about writing that I found heartening as well as inspiring.
Sep 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This little gem offers scope to the life of the writer—to any artist—and gives perspective to the relationship with God and humanity.
Jan 24, 2017 rated it did not like it
The book club I'm part of is reading this a chapter at a time, alongside our usual fictional fare. I'll keep notes here as we go.

Chapter 1:
"At the back of the Christian moral code we find a number of pronouncements about the moral law, which are not regulations at all, but which purport to be statements of fact about man and the universe, and upon which the whole moral code depends for its authority and its validity in practice. These statements do not rest on human consent; th
Matt Pitts
Apr 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary, theology
Dorothy Sayers is perhaps best known for her detective fiction and for her essay (originally a talk) The Lost Tools of Learning (one of the reference points of the classical education renaissance). The Mind of the Maker is a different kind of work altogether. This is a Trinitarian treatise on artistic creation. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say it is a treatise on how artistic creation illuminates the Christian doctrine of the Trinity and of God as Creator. I'm not sure which would best capture her ...more
Aria Maher
Aug 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book explores the relationship of the creativeness of God and the creativeness of man, drawing a brilliant analogy between the two. Dorothy Sayers explores the creative 'trinity' of the artist (Idea, the father of the creative work; Energy, whereby the work is created; and Power, the effect which the work has on others) and relates it too the triune nature of God himself. She also looks at the worth of creative work, and the mentality of creative people, in an extremely refreshing way. I re ...more
Aug 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This work, while at times it meanders into side thoughts or gets bogged down in literary examples that will be unfamiliar to most, is gold for any one who considers themselves a creative artist. All the more for authors, especially of fiction. Sayers uses a protracted analogy between the Trinity of Father, Son, and Spirit to discuss the creative process and the relations between Idea (Father), Energy (Son), and Power (Spirit). The section on creative "heresies" where the relation of these elemen ...more
Mar 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
I guess I was just expecting some simple comparisons of how the mind of man is like the mind of the Creator God, but thanks to the helpful introduction by Madeline L'Engle, I realized I was in for some deep reading. It wasn't until the second chapter that I fully understood Dorothy Sayers' approach. She brilliantly analyzes some statements in the Christian creeds about God the Creator to explain how man is also a creator. The book definitely merits a reread in the future.
Feb 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, faith
3.5 stars

But it's me. Not Sayers. She was clearly a genius, and I'm at a place right now where I got bogged down in the erudite brilliance of the thing.

If you are a writer (or artist) who is fascinated by the creative process (and are of a religious bent), this might appeal to you.
Skylar Burris
Nov 28, 2008 rated it liked it
The Mind of the Maker is an unusual amalgam of theology and commentary on writing and art. As a Christian and a writer, I assumed I would enjoy this book. It is, in part, an attempt to elucidate the nature of God (and many of the questions that accompany belief in God, such as questions about evil, free will, and sin) by way of metaphorical comparison to the act of writing. And although it did at times succeed in elucidating matters (there was an aha! moment or two--yes, that makes it make more ...more
Oh, Dorothy L. Sayers, your erudition and classic university training are showing. And showing me up! I've been plugging away at The Mind of the Maker for four days--which is rather a long time for me for a book just over 200 pages long. But I found this one to be very slow going and way over my head, too. I usually find Sayers to be easy to understand, even when her classic university training is showing and she throws in Latin and French for good measure. I just can't grasp this one--the words ...more
Anne Hamilton
Mar 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: christian
I loved the introduction by Madeleine L'Engle, in part because it clarified for me where she got the idea of 'serving the work' which is such a prominent aspect of Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art. In fact, the concept is much more easy to understand here with just a few sentences than the fuller explanation elsewhere. Only going to prove that sometimes, less really is more.

For some reason I struggled with the rest of the book. Although I read it, nothing leaped out at me a
Nov 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Sayers' analogy from the artist/writer and his work of art to God and his creation is brilliant, and I love the way that she draws it out. I disagreed with many of her conclusions since she took it from a more Arminian stance, but that's a minor gripe. Her illustrations confused me at times, and I didn't quite grasp the Idea-Energy-Form analogue she was trying to draw to the Trinity in the mind of the writer, but some of my difficulties with different parts of the book may have been because I wa ...more
This book was a little difficult to get into a first, but well worth it. I have pulled so many quotes and chewed on several thoughts throughout my time in this that I plan to engage it again at some point. As a Christian, I realize I don't think enough about the Trinity. I love Sayers' use of analogy (and her defense of analogy) when speaking of it. As a maker, one who mirrors God's creativity, this stretched me in different ways as to how I create, why I create, and why sometimes my creations f ...more
Jan 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: theology, philosophy
This is a really fascinating look at discerning the mind of God using his image bearers as an analogy. I'm sure many have done (or attempted) this before but it is my first foray into this mode of analysis. Sayers uses the creative artist, specifically his method and product, to see God's creative character in the world and mankind as an ongoing work of "creation." She also uses the "trinitarian" nature of artistic creation (idea, energy, power) as analogy for God's work in man and creation. ...more
Daniel Wright
Amid all the possible analogies that may be used to attempt to explain God (and they can only ever be incomplete attempts), Sayers expounds one: God as a writer or author, and creation as his work. In her hands it is remarkably fruitful, describing the basics of Christian theology in original and illuminating ways. I think I would appreciate it better if I were an actual writer; an actual writer would also be in a better position to quibble with it.
Tyson Guthrie
Dec 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
An engaging exposition of the vestigia trinitatis in art. You don't need to buy Augustine's trinitarianism (I don't) to benefit from this book (I did), but I suspect you'd find it even more convincing.
Stephen Roach
Oct 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
No one else I've read has drawn such strong and comprehensible parallels between the creative process and the nature of God.
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Dorothy Leigh Sayers was a renowned British author, translator, student of classical and modern languages, and Christian humanist.

Dorothy L. Sayers is best known for her mysteries, a series of novels and short stories set between World War I and World War II that feature English aristocrat and amateur sleuth Lord Peter Wimsey. However, Sayers herself considered her translation of Dante
“To complain that man measures God by his own experience is a waste of time; man measures everything by his own experience; he has no other yardstick.” 21 likes
“When a job is undertaken from necessity, or from a grim sense of disagreeable duty, the worker is self-consciously aware of the toils and pains he undergoes...But when the job is a labor of love, the sacrifices will present themselves to the worker--strange as it may seem--in the guise of enjoyment. Moralists, looking on at this, will always judge that the former kind of sacrifice is more admirable than the later, because the moralist, whatever he may pretend, has far more respect for pride than for love...I do not mean that there is no nobility in doing unpleasant things from a sense of duty, but only that there is more nobility in doing them gladly out of sheer love of the job.” 21 likes
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