A Facility for Quotation Covers the Absence of Original Thought

Dorothy L. Sayers? Lord Peter Wimsey? Harriet Vane? Philip Broadley? Apocryphal?

Dear Quote Investigator: I have found the perfect sardonic motto for the QI website:

A facility for quotation covers the absence of original thought.

According to the “Encarta Book of Quotations” 1 these words were spoken by the character Lord Peter Wimsey in the 1935 novel “Gaudy Night” by the acclaimed mystery writer Dorothy L. Sayers.

Prepare for the twist ending of this message. I have “Gaudy Night” on my bookshelf, but I have been unable to find this quotation. Would you please help to solve this vexatious mystery?

Quote Investigator: QI has examined two editions 2 of “Gaudy Night” 3
and has been unable to find this quip; hence, QI believes that the “Encarta” reference book is mistaken.

Interestingly, a different novel by Sayers contains a very similar remark by Lord Peter Wimsey. He delivered the following line in the 1932 novel “Have His Carcase”. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 4

“I always have a quotation for everything—it saves original thinking.”

“Blast the man!” said Harriet, left abruptly alone in the blue-plush lounge.

Below are additional selected citations that assist in the resolution of this whodunit.

Continue reading A Facility for Quotation Covers the Absence of Original Thought

Notes:

  1. 2000, Encarta Book of Quotations, Edited by Bill Swainson, Entry: Dorothy L. Sayers, Quote Page 826, St. Martin’s Press, New York. (Verified with scans)
  2. 1958 (1935 Copyright), Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers, (Quotation was absent), Victor Gollancz Ltd, London. (Verified with scans)
  3. 1968 (1936 Copyright), Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers, (Quotation was absent), Avon Books: A Division of The Hearst Corporation, New York. (Verified with scans)
  4. 1975 (Copyright 1932), Have His Carcase by Dorothy L. Sayers, Series: A Lord Peter Wimsey Novel, Quote Page 53, Avon Books: A Division of The Hearst Corporation, New York. (Verified with scans)