phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

Phrases, Sayings and Idioms Home > Discussion Forum

Re: Gilded paradise

Posted by Victoria S Dennis on February 20, 2011 at 14:08

In Reply to: Gilded paradise posted by Barbara Peterson on February 19, 2011 at 09:08:

: I have tried to find an explanation of the phrase "gilded paradise," but where lots of people use that phrase to describe the furnishings of a room or pasture (for example, "Imagine, in this gilded paradise, loping across rolling prairie hills on one of Tinker's Tennessee Walkers"), but nowhere can I find out specifically what it means.

The earliest use of the phrase that I can find is D L Sayers's description of Lord Peter Wimsey's bachelor flat in Piccadilly:

"Lord Peter's library was one of the most delightful bachelor rooms in London. Its scheme was black and primrose; its walls were lined with rare editions, and its chairs and Chesterfield sofa suggested the embraces of the houris. In one corner stood a black baby grand, a wood fire leaped on a wide old-fashioned hearth, and the Sèvres vases on the chimneypiece were filled with ruddy and gold chrysanthemums. To the eyes of the young man who was ushered in from the raw November fog it seemed not only rare and unattainable, but friendly and familiar, like a colourful and gilded paradise in a mediæval painting."

D L Sayers is using the phrase here absolutely literally: she's comparing the scene to a picture of Paradise in a medieval book, lavishly decorated by the artist in gold leaf as well as coloured paints. It seems that estate agents' copywriters and the like have turned this into a mindless cliche for describing a luxurious interior, and some even stupider writers use it to describe a natural landscape, which is the exact opposite of what Sayers meant.