EVELYN WAUGH NEWSLETTER AND
Court of Inquiry:
Bibliographers have overlooked a review-with-reminiscences that contains
intriguing information about Waugh's being the subject of a military Court of
Inquiry: viz. Bernard Fergusson’s "Gentlemen at Arms,” a review of To
the War with Waugh, by John St John, Sunday Times, 6 May 1973: 40.
Ambrose Silk, The Yellow Book,
and The Ivory Tower:
Contemporary reviews of Waugh’s Put Out More Flags were hesitant to
attribute to Ambrose Silk any role greater than that of buffoon. Kate
O’Brien’s review in the Spectator, 3 April 1942, writes Ambrose off
with one sentence: ‘And there is a new character, a whining pansy called
Ambrose Silk, who has an absurd adventure.’
Alan Pryce-Jones made no mention at all of Ambrose in his 11 April 1942
review in the New Statesman.
Yet perhaps Ambrose is not to blame for this critical underestimation.
The 1942 novel can be read as an apprehensive stylistic transition between
Waugh’s early satirical technique and later eschatological mode, and if any
middle style exists in Waugh’s corpus, POMF is one of few examples.
There can be little surprise that Basil Seal, the more stylistically robust
persona, has been customarily seen as the central concern of the narrative.
But in undervaluing the parallel story, that of Ambrose Silk and his
hopeless attempt to produce a re-imagined Yellow Book for mid-century,
Waugh’s narrative is rendered as a wartime comedy of billeting and roguery.
‘I wasn’t thinking of having advertisements. I thought of making it
something like the old Yellow Book.’
Ambrose’s efforts to restore a decidedly late-Victorian aestheticism to English culture through publication of his Ivory Tower is obstructed by the loutish and shrewd Basil, who encourages Ambrose to make a large cut in the proofs. Conveniently for Basil, the cut turns the piece into pro-Nazi propaganda. Although his Ivory Tower is interpreted as political and social discourse disguised as a literary magazine, Ambrose’s political statements merely provide an excuse for the true centerpiece of the magazine, the fifty-page story called ‘Monument to a Spartan’ which ‘with great delicacy and precision’ memorializes Ambrose’s German lover, Hans, now imprisoned in a German concentration camp:
‘Monument to a Spartan’ described Hans, as Ambrose had loved him, in every mood; Hans immature, the provincial petit-bourgeois youth floundering and groping in the gloom of Teutonic adolescence, unsuccessful in his examinations, world-weary, brooding about suicide among the conifers, uncritical of direct authority, unreconciled to the order of the universe; Hans affectionate, sentimental, roughly sensual, guilty; above all Hans guilty, haunted by the taboos of the forest; Hans credulous, giving his simple and generous acceptance to all the nonsense of Nazi leaders; Hans reverent to those absurd instructors who harangued the youth camps, resentful at the injustices of man to man, at the plots of the Jews and the encirclement of his country…. (POMF 186-87)
I read this précis of ‘Monument to a Spartan’ as a fascinating response to an
earlier detail: while at Oxford, Ambrose recited Tennyson’s In Memoriam
through a megaphone ‘to an accompaniment hummed on combs and tissue paper’ (POMF
43). His recitation of Tennyson’s
elegy to Arthur Henry Hallam anticipates his later elegy to Hans.
Although we are led to believe that ‘Monument to a Spartan’ is a highly
successful, carefully conceived work, Ambrose is persuaded by Basil to cut
the ending of the story and contentiously leave ‘Hans still full of
illusions, marching into Poland,’ so the story becomes a triumphant
celebration of German military power (POMF 191). Basil has been
promised a promotion for catching a collaborator. Clearly Basil’s
control over the text, his influence over aesthetic history, instigates
Ambrose’s decline and fall. Tennyson’s poem ends not with a military
march, but with a tender appeal to God. When Ambrose’s story is cut
short, not allowed to reach a gentle conclusion, he is left with no choice
other than to flee the country to avoid arrest.
It consisted really of a cabinet, of easily moveable size, seated in a circular socket of its own material and equipped with a bowed door, which dividing in the middle, after a minute gold key had been turned, showed a superposition of small drawers that went upwards diminishing in depth, so that the topmost was of least capacity. The high curiosity of the thing was in the fine work required for making and keeping it perfectly circular; an effect arrived at by the fitting together, apparently by tiny golden rivets, of numerous small curved plates of the rare substance, each of these, including those of the two wings of the exquisitely convex door, contributing to the artful, the total rotundity.
Fielder may have been reading Bergson while living abroad: he expresses the
poetic implications of placing the letter in a symbol, in value and name, of super-rich
American industrialists: ‘Isn’t it an ivory tower, and doesn’t living
in an ivory tower just mean the most distinguished retirement?’ (Ivory
Tower 109). As Hollinghurst has argued, ‘the oddity here, as
compared with The Golden Bowl, lies in turning a figure of speech into
a piece of furniture’ (introduction, xv). After Eve Sedgwick’s ‘Is the
Rectum Straight?’ opened up the profound anality of The Wings of the Dove
and named Lionel Croy’s under-coded disgrace, we can hardly read James’s
description of the ivory tower unknowingly. This extraordinary phallic
worship—with a figurative Shiva linga of gold and ivory as object—not
only criticizes America’s Gilded-Age patriarchs but also necessarily affects
our reading of Ambrose’s Ivory Tower. James’s turning a phrase
into a piece of furniture is inverted by Waugh, and this phallic cabinet is
turned back into the title of a text, to worship the absent Hans, a war-time In
of Honour: Identity and Possession
Evelyn Waugh’s Sword of Honour details Guy Crouchback’s journey of
self-discovery. Throughout the trilogy, the reader witnesses Guy’s
growing understanding of identity, complemented by a developing sense of the
use of possessions. By witnessing Guy’s gradual education in identity,
Waugh suggests that a person’s individuality originates not from possessions
but rather from discovering one’s vocation and giving of oneself.
Editor's Note: Caity Logan won the Fourth Annual Evelyn Waugh Undergraduate Essay Contest with this essay. She majored in English at Smith College in Massachusetts and graduated in the spring of 2009. Caity is applying to medical school.
of boxes (hats, dresses)
(Stacked in boxes at Stinchcombe
The boxes for the silver foxes in A Handful of Dust.
Waugh was square;
But he thought outside the box?
thought outside the box.
Charles Edward Linck, Jr.,
Charles Linck, who died on 21 August 2009, was a member of the pioneering
generation in American Waugh studies. He was one of the first people
chosen by Paul A. Doyle, the founder of Evelyn Waugh Newsletter, to
serve on the editorial board. He and Doyle compiled the first
bibliographies of Waugh. Charles's was significant because, in doing
research for his doctoral dissertation in England in the late 1950s and early
1960s, he discovered dozens of newspaper and other materials by and about
Waugh and interviewed a number of Waugh’s contemporaries, notably Terence
Greenidge. Greenidge gave Charles a copy of The Scarlet Woman, a film
he, Waugh, and others had made, and Charles was instrumental in arranging for
its showing and distribution, first on videotape and then on DVD.
Editor's Note: Donations in memory of Charles Linck can be made to the St Labre Indian School, 1000 Tongue River Road, Ashland Montana 59004, USA. Phone: 1-866-753-5496. Web site: http://www.stlabre.org/Giving/MainGiving.asp
The Real Brideshead
Anyone interested in the life and works of Evelyn
Waugh will be attracted to this book because of his connection with the house
of the title and the “one family” who lived there, the Lygons. The
publishers have sought to make more of this connection than the author
intended by inserting what looks like a subtitle, “The Real Brideshead,” on
the dust wrapper below the title. On the title page, only the “One
House” subtitle appears. In addition, the chapter (dealing with Waugh’s
brief association with the house and family) is pulled out of chronological
order and placed at the beginning of the text. Chapter 2 deals with the
earliest days of the family in the Middle Ages, but for the sake of
continuity it begins with the claim that “a great part of Madresfield’s
appeal for Evelyn Waugh lay in its antiquity.” Waugh was, however, more
interested in the faux antiquity of the nineteenth-century Gothic-Revival
additions. As Mulvagh points out (27-28), Waugh used Madresfield as the
model for the Victorian-Gothic Hetton Abbey in A Handful of Dust
(1934), even in the frontispiece that accompanied early UK editions of that
book. While these editorial
changes confuse and overstate the relatively small contribution Waugh makes
to the story, they succeeded in promoting sales of the book, which had
reached its third printing by the time I ordered my copy a few months after
A production only this disgusting ghastly age,
I tell you -
Yes, by Jesuit priests,
* * *
On their first visit to Brideshead (to see Nanny Hawkins)
Only got time for one visit to Nanny,
Just enough time to get to Venice -
If disinterestedness is sociologically possible, it can be so only through the encounter between habitus predisposed to disinterestedness and the universes in which disinterestedness is rewarded. Pierre Bourdieu, “Is a Disinterested Act Possible?” (88)
Christine Berberich’s revisionary salvage operation forms part of a recent
penchant for recognizing the continued existence of a series of atavistic
structures -- Englishness, nostalgia, and chivalry among them -- an
apparently unforgiving morphology that, however marcescent, will just not go
away. The tone here is palliative as opposed to venomous, an act of
epigonal rehabilitation rather than a coup de grâce, as the gentleman,
through a definition of the term, his history, his literary history, and
viable close readings of his survival in Siegfried Sassoon, Anthony Powell,
Evelyn Waugh, and Kazuo Ishiguro, becomes the metonymic lens through which to
view the contemporaneous English geist, the contiguities of national,
class, and gender identity.
simple nostalgia (which, simply and plainly, means that ‘things were better then’), reflexive nostalgia (a questioning [sic] whether the past was really better and, if so, why) and finally interpretative nostalgia (which analyzes and problematizes the feeling of nostalgia per se). (29)
am less than convinced that this ever becomes more than a checklist here, a
methodological hierarchy against which to measure the novels, rather than a
vehicle to approach the content of memory, why we remember, or even
how. There is surely an argument that the first variant could be more
complex than the third depending on the quality of the “then” in question,
with the third becoming the most superficial, yet rather than being
problematized the definitions are instantly established as the
all-encompassing, democratizing yardsticks of memory. Thus, in
practice, and in the absence of a more differentiated paradigm, the post-transition
Waugh is condemned to the simple, a fogey “closing his eyes to progress, and
regressing into a mythologized past” (164), whereas Ishiguro “cunningly
incorporates all three of Davis’s forms of nostalgia” (155) and is therefore
perceived as more complex, even though the content of Waugh’s mythology, if
considered, may prove less exoteric.
and the Atheist
In the paperback edition of his bestselling book The
God Delusion, Richard Dawkins invokes the name of Evelyn Waugh three
times. The God Delusion advocates atheism, so one might expect
Dawkins to dismiss Waugh as a deluded Roman Catholic. Instead, Dawkins
tries to enlist Waugh in his crusade against faith. This choice of an
unlikely ally points to larger problems with The God Delusion.
Mention the name “Wittgenstein” and people will
probably think of the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, whose
writings have perplexed many of his colleagues in that subtle
discipline. Ludwig is acknowledged to be one of the most influential
philosophers of the twentieth century. But in this book Alexander Waugh
focuses on Ludwig’s older brother, Paul, who has been referred to elsewhere
as “the other Wittgenstein.” Paul was a soldier in World War I and
suffered a wound that required amputation of his right arm. He learned
to play the piano left handed and won praise from the demanding Viennese
music critics. Although The House of Wittgenstein discusses
dozens of members of this family, it is Paul’s picture that appears on the
When, in my early teens just after World War II,
I began to read English fiction, I was bewildered by the identification of a
character as John Doe, M.P. What, I wondered, was a Military Policeman
doing in rural England during what was obviously peacetime? Much later
I realized, though I’m not sure how, that the author was talking about a
Member of Parliament. I doubt that I was alone in my ignorance of terms
and practices peculiar to the United Kingdom. Had my bewildered fellows
and I had Daniel Pool’s marvelous reference book, much would have been
Abstracts of Japanese Essays on
Evelyn Waugh, 1955-1961
Uramatsu, Samitaro. “Shinku, Keiren, Gyouketsu: Evelyn Waugh, ‘Officers
and Gentlemen,’ 1955 [Vacuum, convulsion, and coagulation: Evelyn Waugh, Officers
and Gentlemen (1955)].” Gakuto [Learning stirrups] (Tokyo)
52.12 (1955): 22-24.
Keiyu. “Shohyo, Evelyn Waugh: Officers and Gentlemen [Review of Evelyn
Waugh’s Officers and Gentlemen].” Hiroshima Daigaku Eigo Eibungaku
Kiyo [Hiroshima Studies in English Language and Literature, English
Literary Association of Hiroshima University] 3.1 (1956): 93-94.
Kuroda, Keiyu. “E. Waugh no Brideshead Revisited ni tsuite –
Bungaku to Shukyo [On Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisted: Literature
and Religion].” Hiroshima Daigaku Eigo Eibungaku Kiyo [Hiroshima
Studies in English Language and Literature, English Literary Association
of Hiroshima University] 4.1 (1957): 26-36.
Funatsu, Shigeteru. "Waugh no A Handful of Dust ni tsuite [On A
Handful of Dust by Evelyn
Michio. “Hotokesama mairi―The Loved One kou [To visit the loved
one―A Study of The Loved One].” Kanazawa English
Studies 5 (1958): 105-15.
Abe, Hiroshi. “Evelyn Waugh no Brideshead Revisited ni tsuite [A
Study of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited].” Tohoku Daigaku
Bunkakiyo [Tohoku University Liberal Arts Review] 6 (1960):
Toshihiko. “Wo niokeru youjisei―‘Douke’ no bungaku wo megutte
[Infantilism in Evelyn Waugh: its relation to his comic sprit].” Bungei
to Shisou [Essays in Literature and Thought (Department of
Literature, Fukuoka Women’s University)] 19 (1960): 90-103.
Toba, Fumio. Review of Evelyn Waugh, by Frederick J. Stopp. Sofia
9.2 (1960): 233-35.
Toyohiko. “Evurin Wo Ronarudo Nokusu Den [Review of The Life of
Ronald Knox].” Sofia 9.4 (1960): 483-87.
Abe, Hiroshi. “Evelyn Waugh ni okeru akutoku no mondai [“The Matter of
Vice in Evelyn Waugh”]. Tohoku Daigaku Bunkakiyo [Tohoku University
Liberal Arts Review] 8 (1961): 118-127.
Rebroadcast on BBC
Pair of Pier Glasses
Waugh Undergraduate Essay Contest
in Life Epicurean