EVELYN WAUGH NEWSLETTER AND
Stonor: Is It Broome?
Evelyn Waugh, "Stonor," rev. of Stonor, by Robert Julian Stonor, OSB (London [?]: R. H. Johns, 1951). The Raven [magazine of the Downside School], 42, No. 193 (Summer Term 1951). 55-56.
In case no one has yet listed
Evelyn Waugh’s review of Stonor, a
brief description might be useful. The book is Robert Julian Stonor’s account
of his Catholic recusant family’s long history. Letters in the British
Library reveal that the review was written at Father Stonor’s request for The Raven, the Downside School
magazine (not to be confused with the learned Downside Review), when Waugh was still regularly agreeing to
requests from Catholic schools and causes.
Waugh on Television
In 1954 I saw a 26-minute teleplay entitled
"The High Green Wall" on The General Electric Theater,
a weekly dramatic series hosted by Ronald Reagan on the CBS network. I
had no idea that it had been adapted from Evelyn Waugh's 1933 short story,
"The Man Who Liked Dickens," which would become in substantially
altered form the conclusion of A Handful of Dust in 1934. Even
had this information been brought to my attention, it would not have meant
anything to me. At twelve years of age, I had never heard of
Waugh. Nor would I have been impressed to learn the drama had been
scripted by Charles Jackson, a well-regarded television writer of the time,
and directed by Nicholas Ray, who took on the project between making the two
films for which he is best known today, Johnny Guitar (1954)
and Rebel Without a Cause (1955). I only knew that this drama
was unlike anything else I had seen on television.
Edtor's Note: Another version of this essay appeared in the August 2003 issue of Chronicles Magazine, where George McCartney writes a regular column on film, "In the Dark." To read it, please visit Chronicles Magazine.
Evelyn Waugh Society
At the Evelyn Waugh Centenary Conference in
September 2003, there was considerable enthusiasm for planning another Evelyn
Waugh Conference in two or three years. Suggested sites include
Montpellier, France; Austin, Texas; and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Los
Angeles is another possibility.
Drama, Architecture, Art, and Grace: Evelyn
Waugh's Roman Catholicism
In Limbo: Deprived of an old-fashioned world in which he would have liked to
remain and refusing to feel comfortable in the modern era, Evelyn Waugh dwelt
for some time in between. From that limbo he sent away his books to
check the modern world. His antebellum novels are like the antechamber
in classical tragedies, where conversation is the spark between here and there, between the suffering of consequences and the taking of
The source and beneficiary of maps is the modern bureaucracy, the democratic institution. Noticing that in Black Mischief, Waugh oscillates between “order/civilization” and “anarchy/barbary,” between Basil Seal and Seth, Malcolm Bradbury writes: “The novel creates, but never finally resolves, a condition of equipoise between the progressive and modern and the barbarian and primitive. Our sympathies never go out wholly either to Seal or to Seth.” Further,
Maybe the solution of this impasse is a
reformulation of the hypothesis. Maybe Waugh tries to show that moral
categories are insufficient for a reality whose unseen axis is, in fact,
Grace. Basil has all the human instincts but misapplies them, while Seth
puts to work, for the benefit of others, his half-person. The contrast, then,
is not between civilization and barbary. It is rather between modern
innocence (Seth) and old-fashioned piracy (Basil), which are natural, and a
supernatural order, which is unknown to both characters. More narrowly,
the conflict is between sin (Basil) of fallen creation, of every man, and
ideology (Seth) as an institutional molding of it. Waugh mistrusts the
transition from person (Seth) to abstraction (League of Nations) because
Christianity saves persons, not concepts. Seth was worth our sympathy
because he was a human being (although the undigested western secular
humanism depersonalized him somehow). Modern institutions are
suprapersonal without being in any way closer to God. They lack
traditional communities’ cohesion, the superior spontaneity of Azania’s
blacks who crouched together during the night in order to exorcise their fear
(a consequence of sin).
shapeless reality: the world as it is, fallen, and God as the only possible
restorer, the subject of Waugh’s art. Not the world sweetened by
ideology, synthetically edenized, but a broken daylight that, even without
our hope, has to be sanctified.
Scoops: Evelyn Waugh in the Press
As his centenary on 28 October 2003 approached,
Evelyn Waugh appeared in numerous articles in various publications. The
following are some highlights. Web sites of the original publications
have been provided, though most of the articles are available at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/totalwaugh/
Impressions of Oxford
The Oxford Conference devoted to Waugh's
Centenary was a very enjoyable event. Sadly, I could only attend the
final day of the conference, although I made sure to arrive in time for the
Conference Dinner the night before! The Dinner was a truly memorable
evening in a stunning environment and with plenty of good cheer. The following
day proved to be truly stimulating with very rewarding papers and
discussions. Congratulations to John Wilson for organising the
event! Hopefully, we will have regular Waugh meetings in the future--a
biennial conference dedicated to the great man, maybe?
As a "Shakespearean," I owe Dr.
John Wilson, the indefatigable organizer of the Evelyn Waugh Centenary
Conference, as well as its contributors, a debt of gratitude for giving me
the opportunity to reconsider Waugh in an academic light rather than as a
writer of satiric and humorous novels one simply enjoys for pleasure.
Michael Johnston's sequel to Brideshead Revisited added an unexpected
and fascinating aspect to the conference. The many first-rate papers presented
during the three days of the meeting were refreshing in their multiple
topics, approaches, and points of view. I was particularly interested
in comparisons of Waugh's Catholicism with Greene's, Waugh as a writer on the
international scene (Russia and the Mediterranean), and representations of
Waugh on film. One of the non-Shakespearean courses I teach is on the
Literature of Peace and War, focusing on World War I and World War II;
however, I have never included the Sword of Honour trilogy. I
shall correct that omission when I teach the course next spring.
Being both a great fan of Brideshead Revisited
and a postgraduate student of Comparative Literature, I was very eager to
register for the Evelyn Waugh Centenary Conference as soon as I saw the
announcement on the internet.
Four Novels for Everyman
handsome volume is an addition to Everyman’s Library. Founded in England by J. M. Dent, the son
of a housepainter, Everyman’s Library was intended to be a means of
self-improvement for ambitious workers whose formal education did not satisfy
their quest for knowledge. Although
Waugh’s novels are printed here without notes, Ann Pasternak Slater has
written an introduction. There is a
bibliography of books by and about Waugh as well as two useful chronologies,
one dealing with events in Waugh’s life and the other with the historical
Goodness How Sad
Since the first version of my Mischief
in the Sun was a fictional account of Waugh’s trip to California in 1947,
I wish I could be nicer about a book that I regard with such deep misgivings
that I do not even want to verify quotations from Waugh’s masterfully
constructed if sometimes overwritten novel until the memory of Johnston’s
book has faded. In fact, I am rather in the position of someone who
cannot look at the original Mona Lisa without remembering the version
defaced by a moustache.
with Good Intentions
At the occasion of the centenary of his birth
(1903), the first French biography of Evelyn Waugh has been published by
Editions L'Harmattan in the collection "L'Aire anglophone."
The author, Benoît le Roux, having already published several biographies of
French writers, including Louis Aragon's (1978), was well-qualified to tackle
Evelyn Waugh's. Unfortunately, he did not consult the recent works of
J. H. Wilson and D. L. Patey and started with a handicap that his reading of
C. Sykes (1975), M. Stannard (1986 and 1992), and Selina Hastings (1994) did
not completely erase.
Evelyn Waugh is allotted ten pages in this small
anthology of "British creative writing about Sweden, and . . . Swedish
writing about the UK" (xxiii). Included are Waugh's two articles,
"The Scandinavian Capitals: Contrasted Post-War Moods" (11 Nov.
1947) and "Scandinavia Prefers a Bridge to an Eastern Rampart" (13
Nov. 1947), along with entries from Waugh's diary as he gathered material
(17-25 Aug. 1947).
Symposium at Georgetown
at the MLA
Editions for Sale
Sought for Brideshead Film
Waugh and the Modernist Tradition