A long and highly intellectual response to a colleague in academia, Professor S.J. Curtis. It is regarding a book Sayers has borrowed from him, and is currently reading and thinking about. She doesn't give the name but the book is a historical treatment of the theological and philosophical views of the Roman Church and its renowned priestly scholars, versus other great thinkers in the secular world, and how these opposing views became forces that overlay the actual events which transpired in mediaeval Europe. Also discussed are those views of mediaeval scholar Pierre Mandonnet regarding a contemporary of his, named Siger of Brabant , Siger's struggles, and the views and works of the poet, Dante Alighieri , who authored the work, "The Divine Comedy". "Dear Dr. Curtis...Your new suggestions about Siger are very interesting indeed, and open up a very promising line of inquiry...I never feel it's very satisfactory to have to fall back on supposing that Dante was merely ignorant of the facts - which is about all that Mandonnet's explanations really come to. No doubt it is possible that he just knew that Siger had gone through a rough time, and jumped to the conclusion that he had been unjustly oppressed, and that he didn't know of the formal condemnation; but in view of the widespread interest mediaeval scholars took in theology, it doesn't seem too likely...The interpretation you suggest for the notorious saying that 'What is true in philosophy may be false in theology' is extremely interesting. If I understand rightly, you suggest that Siger was sticking out for what might be called 'modern critical standards', in the sense that it is the commentator's business, first of all, to establish what Averroes, or Aristotle, or whoever it is, actually did say and meant to say, and not to falsify that meaning to bring it into apparent agreement with revealed truth, or his own personal opinions. If so, I couldn't possibly agree with Siger more; and Dante would probably take the same view...." She goes on in stunning prose to finish describing the dynamics among these scholars and way the wind was blowing during those perilous times, as described in the book she is reading, borrowed from her correspondent, Professor Curtis. She signs in full, "Dorothy L. Sayers"
Sayers herself considered her translation of Dante's "Divina Comedia" to be her best work. This letter is an insight into the workings of a scholar's mind. Her writing is enlightening and provides a most stimulating intellectual discussion of theology and philosophy during the Middle Ages. A superb letter.