|EVELYN WAUGH STUDIES|
Vol. 42, No. 3
|Could Ivor Claire Be Lord Lovat? |
Could Diana Cooper Be Wrong?
James Cook University
In an interview with Jeffrey Heath, Diana Cooper said that Ivor Claire “was modelled on ‘Shimi’ Lovat.” Captain Ivor Claire is the attractive upper-class officer and horseman in Sword of Honour who, during the evacuation of Crete from Sphakia in 1941, disobeys orders to remain behind, abandons his men, bluffs his way onto a boat and escapes to Egypt. “Shimi” Lovat was Lt Colonel Simon Fraser, 15th or 17th Lord Lovat and MacShimi of the Fraser Clan who, when deputizing for Brigadier Robert (Bob) Laycock, Commanding Officer of the Special Service Brigade, forced Waugh out of the Brigade in humiliating circumstances. Waugh, therefore, had a motive for identifying Lord Lovat with the dishonourable fictional character, Ivor Claire. He undoubtedly portrays Lovat as the clownish and cowardly Trimmer/McTavish in Sword of Honour, but does Waugh also identify Lovat with Ivor Claire? An affirmative answer is inherently improbable, because Lovat was never in the Battle of Crete, let alone in the evacuation from Sphakia where Ivor Claire disgraces himself.
But could Diana Cooper have been wrong about this matter? After all, she was Waugh’s closest friend and the acknowledged model for Julia Stitch, the character who in Sword of Honour “rallies round” her guilty friend Ivor Claire: she spirits him away to India, manipulates Guy back to England (to keep both out of reach of the authorities), and destroys an envelope containing a dead soldier’s name tag believing it to be evidence that could convict Claire (SH 525-27). Waugh was uncomfortable about making Mrs Stitch act so unscrupulously, lest his character’s misconduct reflect on her “model,” Diana Cooper, and he wrote to Lady Diana: “I have finished [Officers and Gentlemen] and it is O.K. although Mrs Stitch rather lapses from her high original and becomes a sort of Cleopatra of intrigue (not amorous).” He offers to omit the potentially offensive characterization. Lady Diana claimed not to be concerned about Mrs Stitch’s actions and told Waugh: “But Evelyn, it is exactly what I would have done.” In such circumstances it is plausible that Waugh confided to Lady Diana that Ivor Claire was meant to reflect Lovat; and, in consequence, what Lady Diana related to Professor Heath was probably reliable. Perhaps; but then again, perhaps not, for Lady Diana’s memory and her knowledge of Waugh’s writings could (at least on occasion) be far from perfect. It is therefore advisable to seek evidence further afield.
A useful first question might be: Did Waugh give to his character Ivor Claire some feature or features unique to Lord Lovat? A preliminary answer is that Waugh did incorporate in Ivor Claire’s characterization an event that seems to echo a famous exploit of Lovat; and that he gave Claire an intense passion for horsemanship that could reflect Lovat’s—but then any number of upper-class British officers of that time were passionate equestrians.
The first parallel between Lovat and Ivor Claire involves the creative use of buses. In March 1941, British Commandos raided the Lofoten Islands, off the coast of Norway. It was one of the most successful raids of the war and is well described by Charles Messenger in The Commandos 1941-1946. The landing was unexpected and virtually unopposed: the raiders, more or less at will, sank ships, blew up factories producing fish oil used in the manufacture of explosives, destroyed installations, took prisoners and evacuated Norwegians eager to join the war against Germany. The victory was so easy that some British officers played pranks. As the post office was functioning, one sent a telegram to Hitler asking: “Where are your troops?” Lovat also showed quirky initiative. Deputed to capture the seaplane base and its staff, he and his detachment appropriated a local bus and drove into the base undetected. As Messenger puts it, “Lovat and his men took a bus to the seaplane base and captured the staff.” The incident blossomed into farce when the German commander “complained of [Lovat’s] unwarlike behaviour and said that he would report it to the Fuhrer.” The bus, says Charles Messenger, “passed into Commando folklore.”
The question now arises: Did the incident just described inspire the episode in Sword of Honour in which Ivor Claire uses a bus during a night exercise? Or to put it another way, when Waugh was characterizing Ivor Claire, did he attach Lovat’s bus exploit to Claire as a means of attaching Claire’s dishonour to Lovat?
On a bitterly cold night, several Troops of Colonel Tommy Blackhouse’s Commando are engaged in an exercise on the rugged island of Mugg (SH 355-57). The aim of the exercise is to reach a destination by crossing rough country in the dark. But Ivor Claire and his Troop avoid the cold and discomfort of the exercise by hiring a bus (“captured transport”) and travelling to their destination by road. Colonel Blackhouse and the other Troop leaders are not amused. Summoned to explain his actions, Claire glibly pleads “Commando initiative” and successfully argues that “nothing in orders” precluded his action. Despite this “win,” a “marked coldness” develops between Claire and the other Troop leaders, and this coldness throws Claire and Crouchback, two very dissimilar people, together. They become friends. This point needs making because any identification of Lovat with Claire that might result from the bus is secondary to the thematic functions of the incident.
Another parallel between Lovat and Claire involves horsemanship. Before his fall from grace, apart from his epicene elegance and his lapdog Freda, Claire’s most noticeable feature is equestrian skill. At Capetown on the way to the Middle East, Ivor is recognized as a successful international competitor and reveals that he “hasn’t thought of anything much except horses … for the last six weeks” (SH 380-81). Guy remembers him in the Borghese Gardens, “putting his horse faultlessly over the jumps, concentrated as a nun in prayer” (SH 385-86). In his memoir March Past, Lovat admits that “the best of my fun I owe to horse and hound,” while Chapters 7 and 8 of the memoir are devoted exclusively to the Oxford Cavalry Regiment, still in possession of its horses. Throughout March Past Lovat makes it obvious that he is an extremely keen and accomplished rider as well as a knowledgeable breeder of thoroughbreds. A wound incurred after D-Day made it impossible for him to ride, and this was a very severe deprivation.
Is the passion for horses shared by Lovat and Claire an intentional parallel? And if the parallel is intended, is it meant to make Claire’s dishonour rub off on Lovat?
Professor Heath adopts a judicious approach to Diana Cooper’s claim that Ivor Claire is modelled on Lovat. Persuaded—quite mistakenly, I believe—that there is much to be said for the contention that “Ivor Claire is based on Sir Robert Laycock,” Heath concludes: “At the very least it is likely that Claire is a composite of Laycock and Lovat” (240). Do the bus and horsemanship parallels pointed out above reinforce Professor Heath’s partial identification of Lovat and Claire? No conclusive answer to the question seems possible, but certain considerations need to be taken into account.
In the first place, there is no requirement that Ivor Claire reflect a particular person. By definition he is emblematic, the embodiment of “quintessential England, the man Hitler had not taken into account” and “the fine flower” of all the Commandos. In many respects he “is” upper-class England at its most attractive (SH 386). But on the last night of the evacuation of Crete from Sphakia, during a discussion with Guy about “honour,” Claire glibly rationalizes disregard of orders; he then shirks the uphill path to honour. Instead, he disobeys orders, deserts his men and takes the downhill path to the boats and dishonour (SH 507-09). Within the structure of the novel, as I read it, Claire’s choosing dishonour prefigures in a minor key England’s “blundering into dishonour” when she chooses the easy road of unconditional alliance with the Soviet Union, the joint aggressor with Nazi Germany against Poland (SH 530-32). The Soviet Union also annexed the Baltic States and invaded Finland. Guy is devastated to find England agreeing, on entering the Soviet alliance, to declare war on Finland (SH 545). Ivor Claire’s moral failure points to the fatal moral and intellectual weakness of the British Ruling Class.
But does Ivor Claire resemble a particular person as well as the Ruling Class? Dan Davin, who wrote the Official New Zealand history of the Crete campaign, received information from a member of Layforce Headquarters on Crete, Anthony Cheetham. Like Waugh (Diaries 507), Cheetham mentions three colleagues who “disappeared” from Headquarters and “were not seen again until Alexandria.” Davin pencilled above the name of an officer from a fashionable regiment: “Ivor Claire?” (As an aside, every British War Diary from the Crete campaign I have read mentions at least one officer who acted somewhat like Claire.)
Many commentators, including Professor Heath, claim that Ivor Claire’s desertion and Guy’s burning the evidence of the crime in Sword of Honour obliquely create the moral equivalent of Laycock’s manner of leaving Crete and Waugh’s alleged falsifying of the Layforce War Diary to justify it. More than enough has been written on this subject, which is tangential to the present topic. Suffice to say here, briefly, that I reject the argument, because the situations of Captain Claire and Colonel Laycock (functioning as a Brigadier) were quite different. Laycock commanded a Brigade. And like all other commanders of Brigades on Crete, he and his Headquarters staff were expressly permitted to leave the island. Moreover, the Commanding Officers of higher formations such as brigades are not necessarily expected to remain behind with their troops. Ivor Claire, by contrast, is a Captain in command of a Troop, and convention strongly demands that he go into captivity with his men; as well, Claire has been ordered to remain behind. As for suppressing evidence, Guy Crouchback, in a moment of profound disillusion following the Russian alliance, finds himself in a world in which Justice no longer matters; his lonely, idiosyncratic conviction that Justice requires Claire to be prosecuted therefore evaporates, and he burns a notebook containing evidence that could have convicted Claire (SH 532). Waugh had no need to falsify the Layforce War Diary because there was no crime to cover up.
Could, then, Ivor Claire really “be” Lovat, who was never on Crete, let alone at Sphakia on the last night of the evacuation? Perhaps. Diana Cooper’s identification of Claire with Lovat must carry weight, especially because Professor Heath, who interviewed Lady Diana and presumably discussed the matter, took her claim seriously. Claire’s creatively travelling by bus instead of traversing rugged country at night could, possibly, be mere coincidence, although it is unlikely that Waugh would not have known the Commando “folklore” related to Lovat. Again, the bus exploit might also be no more than a convenient way of setting up Claire as “fly”—the sort of man who takes responsibility very lightly and shows great skill in evading his duty.
But finally it is just possible that Waugh did have Lovat in mind when he made Claire take a bus instead of travel across country at night, and when he made him an equestrian of note; and that Claire’s dishonour taints Lovat. But how could this be if Lovat was never on Crete? Paul Johnson has argued that “central to the original concept of [Sword of Honour] was the theme of betrayal,” and he cites the example of “Ivor Claire’s dereliction of duty.” It is conceivable that Waugh associated Lovat with Claire in this general sense, because he (quite correctly) regarded Lovat’s conduct when forcing him out of the Special Service Brigade as deceitful and unscrupulous. The story of this incident is long and unpleasant, and it will be told in full elsewhere. Suffice to say here that Lt Colonel Lovat, when deputizing for his Commanding Officer, Brigadier Laycock, seriously misrepresented to Waugh the orders Laycock had given in his regard; he also took a farrago of complaints about Waugh to the Vice Chief of Combined Operations, some of which were demonstrably false.
Lovat was the eldest son of one of the oldest aristocratic families in the British Isles, heir to vast acres and Beaufort Castle, a war hero, a magnificent horseman and a Catholic to boot. Waugh had reason to know that beneath the glamour of Lovat’s public reputation there lay a streak of strangely mindless, almost wanton, amoralism. It is not beyond imagining that when creating Ivor Claire he incorporated Lovat’s bus exploit and horsemanship as nods to the knowing that Lovat shared Claire’s dishonour.
 Jeffrey Heath, The Picturesque Prison: Evelyn Waugh and His Writing (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1982), 240. Subsequent references will be made parenthetically to Heath.
 Evelyn Waugh, Sword of Honour: The Final Version of the Novels Men at Arms (1952), Officers and Gentlemen (1955) and Unconditional Surrender (1961) (London: Chapman & Hall, 1965), 506-09, 522-25. N.B.: To avoid confusing fiction with fact: (a) in Sword of Honour, Hookforce (Ivor Claire’s unit) has orders to remain behind on Crete; but (b) in 1941, Layforce, a Commando brigade, did NOT have orders to remain behind on Crete. (This essay refers to the 1965 recension Sword of Honour. References will be made parenthetically to SH.)
 Evelyn Waugh, The Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, ed. Michael Davie (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1976), 539-45.
 Donat Gallagher, “‘I am Trimmer, you know…’: Lord Lovat in Evelyn Waugh’s Sword of Honour,” Evelyn Waugh Newsletter and Studies 41.2 (Autumn 2010).
 Artemis Cooper, ed., Mr Wu and Mrs Stitch: The Letters of Evelyn Waugh and Diana Cooper, 1932-1966 (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1991), 200.
 Qtd. in Jacqueline McDonnell, Waugh on Women (London: Duckworth, 1986), 196.
 In an interview in the early 1980s, when Lady Diana was quite old but still charming, this writer found her knowledge of Waugh’s writings very shaky indeed. Professor Heath interviewed Lady Diana much earlier.
 Charles Messenger, The Commandos 1941-1946 (London: William Kimber, 1985), 46-47.
 Lord Lovat, March Past: A Memoir (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1978), 12.
 Dan Davin, Crete: Official History of New Zealand in the Second World War 1939-1945 (Wellington: War History Branch with Oxford University Press, 1953).
 Anthony Cheetham, undated letter to Davin, D. M. Davin (Davin Papers), Crete Correspondence, Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, NZ (ATL).
 Antony Beevor, Crete: The Battle and the Resistance (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1992), 218-23; ‘The First Casualty of Waugh,’ Spectator, 6 April 1991: 25-26. Donat Gallagher, “Sir Robert Laycock, Antony Beevor and the Evacuation of Crete from Sphakia,” Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research 78 (2000): 38-55. (Maj. Gen.) Julian Thompson, The Royal Marines: From Sea Soldiers to a Special Force (London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 2000), 260-61. Donat Gallagher, “Misfire: Reassessing the Legacy of General Robert Laycock,” RUSI [Royal United Services Institute] Journal 153.1 (Feb. 2008): 80-89.
 Paul Johnson, ‘In Sword of Honour truth is stranger than fiction; more painful too,’ Spectator, 13 Jan. 2001: 27; Charles Maclean, ‘Letters,’ Spectator, 20 Jan. 2001: 26.
|War of the Roses|
My father, Giles Cooper, dramatised Sword of Honour for BBC television in 1966. Before the project could be confirmed, he and his long-time collaborator Donald McWhinnie were summoned to meet Evelyn Waugh at the Dorchester Hotel, where the author was staying early that year. McWhinnie was an enormously experienced radio and TV director, having worked closely with most of the great dramatists of the day, including Samuel Beckett, Jean Anouilh and Harold Pinter.
The mood of the interview--for such it definitely was--began awkwardly, but brightened when Waugh enquired where each had gone to school, though they were in their late forties. While McWhinnie had attended a grammar school in Lancashire, my father had been at Lancing College, some fifteen years after Waugh himself. Drinks appeared and an increasingly jolly session ensued, until it was time to leave.
In the hallway of Waugh’s suite was a large display of red and white roses. He plucked one of each from the vase, snapped off the stems, and placed the white bloom in McWhinnie’s buttonhole and the red one in my father’s, with the mischievous comment: “Innocence … and experience.”
Editor’s Note: As Patrick Denman Flanery shows, McWhinnie also helped to produce the BBC’s radio version of Brideshead Revisited in 1956. See Flanery, “The BBC Brideshead 1956, or Whatever Happened to Celia, Sex, and Syphilis?” A Handful of Mischief: New Essays on Evelyn Waugh, ed. Donat Gallagher, Ann Pasternak Slater, and John Howard Wilson (Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 2011), 220-21.
|Footnote on Waugh and Merton|
Robert Murray Davis
University of Oklahoma
Almost thirty years ago, in “How Waugh Cut Merton,” I dealt with Evelyn Waugh’s editing of Thomas Merton’s The Seven Storey Mountain for the English edition and quoted some of his comments on Merton’s need to consider economy and directness in his style.
Merton’s journals for the period were not published until 1996, and they reveal him as a fan of Robert Graves and Alan Hodge’s The Reader Over Your Shoulder, which Waugh had reviewed very favorably in 1943. Merton mentions that the authors regarded the era of experimental prose as finished and welcomed their advice about “clear, logical prose that can be rapidly read. I have a definite hunger for clarity and order in my writing—not necessarily for conventions of grammar. Anyway it helps me see my faults and has ascetic implications as well.”
Merton learned that Waugh was editing The Seven Storey Mountain and was pleased because “I trust him more than anyone else on a job like that.” He was less enthusiastic about Waugh’s forthcoming Life article about a great revival of Catholicism in the USA, for “This is all news to me” (Entering 232). American Catholicism seemed to him insufficiently ascetic and overly stuffy and self-satisfied. Suffering might cure those deficiencies, Merton thought.
Late on 27 November 1948, Waugh visited Merton in Kentucky and left the next day at noon. Merton “expected [Waugh] to be taller and more dashing: but he was very nice and friendly” (Entering 246). Waugh said that Hollywood was far duller than he had anticipated—no jewels or elephant parades—and only the daily visits to Forest Lawn sustained him. Graham Greene’s The Heart of the Matter and his own The Loved One he thought unsuitable for the refectory. He had been routed from Cincinnati to Louisville by way of Washington, DC and was on his way to New Orleans to do further research for his article. Waugh was being “very careful about trying to do things well, if possible” (Entering 246), and he warned Merton not to expect much from the article.
 Month NS 6 (April 1973): 150-53; expanded in Evelyn Waugh and the Forms of His Time (Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1989), 92-111.
 Tablet 182 (3 July 1943): 8-9. Reprinted in Essays, Articles and Reviews of Evelyn Waugh, ed. Donat Gallagher (London: Methuen, 1983), 275-77.
 Entering the Silence: The Journals of Thomas Merton, Vol. 2, 1941-1952 (San Francisco: Harper, 1997), 229.
|Evelyn Waugh: A Supplementary Checklist of Criticism|
John Howard Wilson
Lock Haven University
This is a continuation of the earlier lists, published in Evelyn Waugh Newsletter and Studies. It contains books and articles published in 2010 as well as items omitted from previous lists.
Barnard, Rita. “‘A tangle of modernism and barbarity’: Evelyn Waugh’s Black Mischief” (2007). TCLC 229 (2010): 332-42.
Begam, Richard, and Michael Valdez Moses, eds. Modernism and Colonialism (2007). Rev. by Cóilín Parsons, Review of English Studies 59.241 (2008): 647-48.
Bittner, David. “The ‘Real’ Charles Ryder Eludes Us Once Again.” EWNS 41.2 (Autumn 2010).
Bluemel, Kristin, ed. Intermodernism (2009). Rev. by Laura Mooneyham White, “Utopian Hopes,” EWNS 42.1 (Spring 2011).
Byrne, Paula. Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead (2009). New York: Harper, 2010. Rev. by Michael Dirda, “Off the Waugh: The Life and Mind Behind Brideshead,” Washington Post, 1 April 2010; Alexander Waugh, Daily Beast, 17 April 2010; Donat Gallagher, “The Lygons, the Flytes and Evelyn Waugh,” Quadrant (March 2010): 96-99, and “The Lygons of Madresfield and Evelyn Waugh,” EWNS 41.1 (Spring 2010); Robert Murray Davis, “Wealth of Details,” EWNS 41.2 (Autumn 2010); Tara McKelvey, New York Times, 6 August 2010; Contemporary Review Summer 2010: 260; Henrik Bering, “Truer than Fiction: Brideshead re-revisited,” Weekly Standard, 19 July 2010; Mark Alan Williams, Library Journal, 1 February 2010: 64-65; Publishers Weekly, 1 February 2010: 44; Mary Ellen Quinn, Booklist, 1 January 2010: 34; Sunday Times, 30 May 2010: 42.
Colletta, Lisa. “The Too, Too Bogus World: Evelyn Waugh’s Vile Bodies” (2003). TCLC 229 (2010): 286-98.
Cull, Ian V. “Catholicism and Crisis in the Modern British Novel: With Specific Reference to the Writings of Graham Greene and Evelyn Waugh.” Hosei Riron [Journal of Law and Politics] 30.3 (1998): 320-44.
Curtin, Mary Elizabeth. “‘Ghastly Good Taste’: The Interior Decorator and the Ethics of Design in Evelyn Waugh and Elizabeth Bowen.” Home Cultures 7.1 (March 2010): 5-23.
Davis, Robert Murray. “Few Scoops” [Short Stories] (2000). TCLC 229 (2010): 248-49.
Davis, Robert Murray. Rev. of Waugh Abroad (2004). TCLC 229 (2010): 300-01.
DeCoste, Damon Marcel. “The Plasticity of the Merely Human: Love Among the Ruins” (2007). TCLC 229 (2010): 317-28.
DeCoste, Damon Marcel. “Waugh’s War and the Loop of History” (2000). TCLC 229 (2010): 249-65.
Deedes, W. F. “The Spoils of Waugh” (2003). TCLC 229 (2010): 284-85.
Deer, Patrick. Culture in Camouflage (2009). Rev. by Paul K. Saint-Amour, Modern Fiction Studies 56.3 (Fall 2010): 650-53.
“Evelyn Arthur St. John Waugh.” Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia. 6th ed. 1 July 2010.
The Evelyn Waugh Collection: A Handful of Dust; Scoop. Acorn Media, 2010. DVD. Rev. by Sheila S. Intner, Library Journal, 1 April 2010: 52; Video Librarian 25.2 (March-April 2010): 50.
The Evelyn Waugh Collection of Sam Radin. New York: Glenn Horowitz Bookseller, 2006.
Rev. by John Howard Wilson, “Collector’s Item,” EWNS 42.1 (Spring 2011).
Falcoff, Mark. “Waugh’s Postcolonial Studies” (2006). TCLC 229 (2010): 314-17.
Gallagher, Donat. “Graham Greene and Evelyn Waugh.” Defendant: Newsletter of the Australian Chesterton Society 16 (4:63) (2009): 7-8.
Gallagher, Donat. “‘I am Trimmer, you know…’: Lord Lovat in Evelyn Waugh’s Sword of Honour.” EWNS 41.2 (Autumn 2010).
Gannett, Lewis. “Traps of Life” [Short Stories] (2001). TCLC 229 (2010): 265-67.
Garlick, Benjamin D. “A Conversation at Anchorage House.” EWNS 41.1 (Spring 2010).
Gleichner, Doris. “The Home Front: The London Blitz in Selected British Novels.” MPhil thesis. University of Vienna, 2010: http://othes.univie.ac.at/8534/1/2010-02-18_0104129.pdf.
Greene, Donald. “A Note on British Titles of Rank with Special Reference to the Works of Evelyn Waugh,” EWNS 41.1 (Spring 2010).
Griffiths, Richard. The Pen and the Cross: Catholicism and English Literature, 1850-2000. New York: Continuum, 2010.
Harris, Alexandra. Romantic Moderns: English Writers, Artists and the Imagination from Virginia Woolf to John Piper. London & New York: Thames & Hudson, 2010.
Hart, David B. “When the Going was Bad” [Waugh Abroad] (2004). TCLC 229 (2010): 298-300.
James, Clive. Cultural Amnesia (2007). Rev. by Jeffrey A. Manley, “Making the Modern Tolerable,” EWNS 40.3 (Winter 2010).
Johnson, Paul. “A Tribute to the Greatest Writer in English of the 20th Century” (2003). TCLC 229 (2010): 285-86.
Kalliney, Peter. Cities of Affluence and Anger (2006). Rev. by Nick Bentley, Modernism/Modernity 17.1 (January 2010): 260-62.
Kalogroulis, Konstantinos. “The Antihero in the Second World War.” PhD diss. National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, 2009.
Kramer, Nicholas McDuff. “Untenable, but irresistible: A critical portrait of Evelyn Waugh’s early novels in four essays.” BA thesis. Amherst College, 2010.
Lebedoff, David. The Same Man (2008). Reviewed by Douglas Hassall, “Two English Masters,” Quadrant 54.4 (April 2010): 121+.
MacKay, Marina. Modernism and World War II (2007). Rev. by Geneviève Brassard, Modernism/Modernity 15.1 (January 2008): 200-02; Will Norman, Notes and Queries 56.1 (2009): 129-31; Jens Martin Gurr, Anglia: Zeitschrift für englische Philologie 127.2 (April 2010): 385-89.
MacLeod, Lewis. “‘They Just Won’t Do, You Know’: Postcolonial Discourse and Evelyn Waugh’s Sword of Honour.” LIT: Literature Interpretation Theory 21.2 (2010): 61-80.
Matson, Lisa Dallape. Re-Presentations of Dante Gabriel Rossetti: Portrayals in Fiction, Drama, Music, and Film. Amherst, NY: Cambria, 2010.
McCulloch, Andrew. “‘All the vain things’: From Decline and Fall to Brideshead Revisited: Andrew McCulloch explores the biographical contexts that underpin Waugh’s most famous novels.” English Review 20.4 (April 2010): 38+.
McCulloch, Andrew. “Satire and Satyr: Decline and Fall” (2001). TCLC 229 (2010): 267-69.
McNamara, Kevin, ed. The Cambridge Companion to the Literature of Los Angeles. New York: Cambridge UP, 2010.
McWhirter, Cameron. “Foreign Correspondence” [Waugh in Abyssinia] (2007). TCLC 229 (2010): 328-29.
Milthorpe, Naomi. “‘Death is at the Elbow’: The Loved One and Love Among the Ruins.” Renascence 62.3 (Spring 2010): 201-17.
Morton, John S. Tennyson among the Novelists. New York: Continuum, 2010.
Nadel, Ira B. “Evelyn Waugh.” Dictionary of Literary Biography: Twentieth-Century British Humorists. Ed. Paul Matthew St. Pierre. Detroit: Gale, 2009. 261-74. Rev. in Reference & Research Book News (Feb. 2010).
Notani, Keiji. “Chusei shugisha toshiteno Evurin Wo－Meiyo no ken ni mirareru Katorikku shinkou” [“Evelyn Waugh as a medieval ideologist－Catholicism in Sword of Honour”]. Kiristo kyo bungaku kenkyu [Christian Literature Studies] 27 (2010): 123-36.
Palmer, Alan. Social Minds in the Novel. Columbus: Ohio State UP, 2010.
Palmer, Alan. “Storyworlds and Groups” [Men at Arms]. Introduction to Cognitive Cultural Studies. Ed. Lisa Zunshine. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2010. 176-92.
Pitman, Alexandra. “Medical Classics: The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold.” British Medical Journal, 10 December 2008.
Poole, Adrian, ed. The Cambridge Companion to English Novelists. New York: Cambridge UP, 2010. Rev. by Leo Robson, “When stars collide,” New Statesman, 19 April 2010; Jeffrey Manley, “Unnecessary Confusion,” EWNS 42.1 (Spring 2011).
Radwilowicz, Kelsey Lynne. “A Special Providence: Shifting Genre and Spiritual Growth in Evelyn Waugh’s Sword of Honour Trilogy.” BA honors project. Smith College, 2010.
Reichardt, Mary R., ed. Between Human and Divine: The Catholic Vision in Contemporary Literature. Washington: Catholic U of America P, 2010.
Rockett, June. A Gentle Jesuit (2004). Rev. by David Rooney, Catholic Historical Review 94.4 (October 2008): 842-44.
Rossi, John. “Evelyn Waugh’s Neglected Masterpiece” [POMF] (2002). TCLC 229 (2010): 280-82.
Schoenberg, Thomas J., and Lawrence J. Trudeau, eds. “Evelyn Waugh.” Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism [TCLC]. Vol. 229. Detroit: Gale, 2010. 234-355.
Schweizer, Bernard. “Evelyn Waugh” (2001). TCLC 229 (2010): 269-80.
Seland, John. “Decline and Fall: Evelyn Waugh and Black Americans.” Academia [Journal of the Nanzan Academic Society] 79 (2006): 171-91.
Stephenson, Liisa. “Reading Matter: Modernism and the Book.” DAI-A 70.8 (February 2010). McGill U, 2008.
Stevenson, Randall. “Remembering the Pleasant Bits: Nostalgia and the Legacies of Modernism.” Novel 43.1 (2010): 132-39.
Sutton, Timothy J. Catholic Modernists, English Nationalists. Newark: U of Delaware P, 2010. Rev. by Robert Murray Davis, “Driven by his Thesis,” EWNS 41.1 (Spring 2010).
TCLC (Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism): see Schoenberg, Thomas J.
Toynton, Evelyn. “Revisiting Brideshead” (1998). TCLC 229 (2010): 245-48.
Trevor, William. “The Making of a Professional” [Waugh Abroad] (2003). TCLC 229 (2010): 282-84.
Trotter, David. “e-Modernism: Telephony and British Fiction, 1925-1940.” Critical Quarterly 51.1 (2009): 1-32.
Trout, Steven. “Miniaturization and Anticlimax in Evelyn Waugh’s Sword of Honour” (1997). TCLC 229 (2010): 236-45.
Usui, Yoshiharu. “Abstracts of Japanese Essays on Evelyn Waugh, 1950-1969.” EWNS 40.3 (Winter 2010).
Usui, Yoshiharu. “Abstracts of Japanese Essays on Evelyn Waugh, 1970-1977.” EWNS 41.1 (Spring 2010).
Usui, Yoshiharu. “Abstracts of Japanese Essays on Evelyn Waugh, 1981-1987.” EWNS 41.2 (Autumn 2010).
Ward, Jean. “The Waste Sad Time: Evelyn Waugh’s A Handful of Dust” (2008). TCLC 229 (2010): 342-52.
Waugh, Evelyn. Decline and Fall (1928). Play rev. by The Times, 22 December 2010: 12; Mick Dempsey, EWNS 42.1 (Spring 2011).
Waugh, Evelyn. The Essays, Articles and Reviews of Evelyn Waugh. Ed. Donat Gallagher (1983). Rev. by John Derbyshire, “Five Best,” Wall Street Journal, 12 June 2010: W8.
White, Laura. “The Rejection of Beauty in Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited” (2006). TCLC 229 (2010): 307-14.
Whittle, Stephen. “Lad Zap: Charles Ryder and a Holy Plot of Love.” EWNS 41.1 (Spring 2010).
Wilkin, Peter S. The Strange Case of Tory Anarchism. Faringdon, UK: Libri, 2010. Rev. by David Blackburn, “The sound of broken glass,” Spectator, 27 November 2010: 48.
Wilson, John Howard. “The Artist as Reactionary, or Not Just Flopping Along.” Key Reporter, Spring 2010: 10.
Wilson, John Howard. “Elijah and the Beginning of Evelyn Waugh’s Men at Arms” (2007). TCLC 229 (2010): 329-32.
Wilson, John Howard. “Evelyn Waugh: A Supplementary Checklist of Criticism.” EWNS 40.3 (Winter 2010).
Wilson, John Howard. “Men at Arms.” Literary Encyclopedia, 18 August 2010: www.litencyc.com.
Wilson, John Howard. “A Neglected Address: 25 Adam Street.” EWNS 41.2 (Autumn 2010).
Wilson, John Howard. “Scoop.” Literary Encyclopedia, 19 July 2010: www.litencyc.com.
Wilson, John Howard. “Vile Bodies.” Literary Encyclopedia, 21 June 2010: www.litencyc.com.
York, Richard. “Evelyn Waugh’s Farewell to Heroism” (2004). TCLC 229 (2010): 301-07.
Atlantic Republic: The American Tradition in English Literature, by Paul Giles.
Oxford: Oxford UP, 2006. 419 pp. $150. (Paperback, 2009, $45).
Reviewed by Jonathan Pitcher, Bennington College
‘What a lot of ivy you have,’ she said. ‘It covers the churches and it buries the houses. We have ivy; but I have never seen it grow like that.’
G. K. Chesterton, “The Riddle of the Ivy” (94).
This book pluckily confronts the cultural ataraxia of canon formation. Within the first three pages, as you wait with ears half-cocked for the revolutionary cry of “O Captain! My Captain!” Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch’s Oxford Book of English Verse, his Oxford Book of English Prose, F. R. Leavis’s The Great Tradition and Raymond Williams’s The Long Revolution are upended for their all too telluric Englishness, soon to be followed, inter alia, by the phony diversity of The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Jonathan Bate’s restrictively nationalistic preface to the Oxford English Literary History, and most English departments. Before allowing the words “Foucauldian exercise” (9) to set in, the fear of yet another book that has apparently recognized the atavistic reduction of the canon, a recognition that is surely atavistic in and of itself by now, Paul Giles ambitiously diverts the impending tabula rasa through “a certain kind of methodological approach” (11), with England and America, from the Reformation to Caryl Phillips, serving to expose each other’s latent differences in a mutually inclusive yet antagonistic relationship.
The revisionist counter-project is neatly documented, contextualized, and unafraid to read history through religion, albeit schismatically. Rather than ripping down England’s ivy and either leaving it strewn across the cemetery or replacing it with plastic plants, Giles looks for the gaps in the foliage, a transatlantic aphanisis, in dogged fashion, as his vocabulary confirms. On emigration, “Johnson’s writing is simultaneously attracted to and repelled by this vision of disorder” (21), Wilde’s disjunctive America is emblematic of “a country which many English Victorians felt an intense attraction to and repulsion from simultaneously” (144), George Gissing is the enemy and beneficiary of American copyright law, “both attracted and repelled by the idea of transatlantic mutability” (156), and after his move to the West Coast “Huxley becomes simultaneously attracted to, as well as repelled by, his abstract landscapes of technological futurism” (227). To a degree, therefore, Giles re-inhabits the tactics of the Reformation, a typically modern maneuver, with his own book mirroring its content, in the sense that America tends to create a series of supersessive ruptures within the colder heart of English institutions, thus leaving the authors in question awkwardly straddling their newfound, contingent, transatlantic status. Rather than replacing this paradox of attraction/repulsion with one or the other, or indeed doing away with them altogether, there is no neo-Freudian cure. Giles’s own means, the quivering between the security of tradition, “a known world” (127), and a potentially purer, “more dangerous, unknown one” (127), however ungainly, become the end. It is a modus operandi that is laudably intended to question the divide between English and American Studies, and one that is difficult to argue against, in that yet more awkward straddling, more extreme attraction and repulsion, is required to supersede the previous incarnation of the paradox within the logic of its own terms.
Although dependent on schism, exactly how novel this supposedly newfound parabiosis becomes via Giles’s readings is questionable. Yes, plausibly, the American West’s alterity “served to reconfigure the parameters of British culture” (110), Thoreau’s Anglophobic “American relationship to the land” follows suit (87), along with Wilde’s ambivalence, T. S. Eliot’s Anglo-Catholic order is left to paper over the cracks, and in the more contemporary dénouement Rushdie “represents an altogether different kind of English literature” (331). Even when couched in the discourse of transculturation, however, these are canonical figures hitched to standard assertions, and a pervasive sense of enantiodromia lingers throughout. There are intermittent, if tacit, admissions that somehow the sorry state of the English canon’s entelechy is not quite as sorry as at first assumed, that it is in fact capable of less jingoistic evolution, with or without Giles’s overarching transatlantic critical apparatus: “The pressures of globalization have uncoupled the idea of ‘English literature’ from the wider notion of literature in English and have consequently repositioned the home-grown English literary canon as one of many competing discourses within a post-imperial framework” (346-47). Such admissions should mean success, but of course granting explicit license to that thought would in turn obfuscate the need for the book itself, since at best its methodology would become a fait accompli, and at worst the purported atrophy of English endemism, the cornerstone of a now buckling thesis, would seem contrived. Denise Levertov is perhaps the success story of the piece. She married an American, emigrated in 1948, took U.S. citizenship in 1956, was “influenced as a young woman in England by the work of T. S. Eliot” yet “found herself becoming increasingly unsympathetic to his conservative critical ideas” (262), “readily assimilated American dialects” (265), “worked self-consciously to refashion herself as an American poet” (265), and, in her own words, was “genuinely of both places” (266). She seems to have pre-read this book, even within its pages, but more emolliently (to use Giles’s recurrent, negative term), sans repellent attraction or vice versa, and receives fewer pages than any other individually named subchapter.
Another paradox, as with the retrospective historical lacuna of the Reformation itself, is that applying contemporary theory to the past in the name of inclusion also means that all those residual iconodules must be heuristically, almost attitudinally, excluded. They tend to form an ideologically diverse bunch, but somewhere between contingent America and Olde Englande become surplus to requirements. Among others, and all too briefly here, the excluded are “the emphasis on provincial locality … in English Victorian fiction” (29), Moll Flanders (since Giles’s “point is precisely that after 1783 this rhetoric of dislocation became more associated with American than with English literature and culture” ), Wordsworth’s “arch-conservatism” (36), “the canonical tradition of English Romanticism” (47), Dickens as “univocal moralist” (95), Matthew Arnold’s “‘modernist humanist critique of industrial society’” (123), Lionel Trilling’s continuation of Arnold (123), D. H. Lawrence’s dabbling in “medieval Christendom” (186), Orwell’s pervasive “Little Englandism” (203, but see also 160, 195, 204, 209, 241, 290), Christopher Hitchens’s “too simplistic” reading of Wodehouse as satire (222), Theodor Adorno’s “distaste for what he saw as an unholy collusion between totalitarianism and technology” (240), and Martin Amis’s “conservative moral perspective, something he inherits partly from his father and partly from Saul Bellow,” “since [the latter] understands that ‘being human’ is ‘not a given but a gift, a talent, an accomplishment, an objective’” (322-23). Waugh, predictably, in the same vein as Orwell, “misleadingly acclaimed his friend Wodehouse in 1961 for having created a ‘timeless’ world” (209), thus “repressing the historical contingencies upon which its own claims to eternal wisdom are predicated” (212). The same interpretation is later defined as “theoretically wrong-headed” (219) though also, as a backhanded compliment, “disconcertingly perceptive in the way it identified hostility to Wodehouse with British wartime government propaganda” (219). His opinion that “Huxley ‘never wrote a good novel after Antic Hay’” (224) (i.e., prior to American exile) is dismissed as similarly essentialist, The Loved One’s “patronizing tone … mocks American vulgarity from a great height” (226), which then becomes the neo-imperialist foil to Huxley’s presumably more democratizing After Many a Summer: “but the effect of this revision is disconcertingly to adduce analogies between the American castle and its English prototype, not satirically to suggest – as Evelyn Waugh would have done – that one is merely a decayed replica of the other” (228). While I gather that we are now treating all such stability, a priori, as equally suspicious, since it does not conform to the schema of attractive repulsion, whether the stability (and therefore the suspicion) in question is all the same seems just as suspect. When Giles claims at the end of a paragraph that “Many in Britain shared Orwell’s anxiety that the threat to individual personality posed by technological dehumanization, against which they had fought in Europe for six years, might now infiltrate their island territory from across the Atlantic” (204), I realize that my visceral reaction, my critical elitism, as a fellow Anglo-American still living on the hyphen over two hundred pages in, is supposed to recognize Orwell’s bourgeois, self-absorbed nationalism here, supported and thereby undercut by the nebulous masses, but at the same time I am not entirely convinced, more than sixty years later, of why this fear, regardless of how many Britons were similarly fearful, was misguided. Viably, Caryl Phillips’s “The Nature of the Blood might be seen as another attempt to revise the Oxford English syllabus in order to atone for its occluded racial dimension, to reread the play [Othello] as turning crucially on racial difference rather than, as in the liberal humanist interpretation, on jealousy” (354-55), but would it not be less reductive to problematize both? Yes, any overhaul of the canon is necessarily tendentious, and we’re all post-Reformation types, accustomed to glib shock tactics, but all these subtextual nods are not as good as winks, and are hardly an end unto themselves. The final, emblematic lines of the Auden chapter positively suggest that “many critics, even today, remain disconcerted by his refusal to take sides” (285), as if such anonymous disconcertion, a vague yet apparently compulsive accusation, is enough to dispatch the less equivocal.
Given the kaleidoscopic conflation of ideas and history, these sporadic ideological absences, perhaps designed to bolster the equivocation of the content, become progressively less disconcerting than self-defeating. The section on J. G. Ballard opens with an elaboration of postmodernism’s “characteristic emphasis on commodification and ‘dispersal’” (286), though for Ballard himself, in Giles’s own words, “the negative aspect of such commodification is its potential erasure of the alterity of history, the way in which the present can be crucially reconfigured in the light of shadows from other temporal dimensions” (298), at which point the mise-en-abîme alarm bell nestling behind the ivy should surely be ringing, for is the study itself not engaged in a similar reconfiguration, though supposedly on behalf of such alterity? Furthermore, having detailed the “confusion of boundaries … endemic to Empire of the Sun” (290), at the end of the paragraph the reader is parenthetically informed that “(There is a marked difference in this respect between Ballard’s novel and the subsequent film version made by Steven Spielberg)” (290), which implies that one can have too much of all this transatlantic relativizing, yet we simply move on to more of the same. Similarly, Donald Davie seems to have nailed Atlantic Republic’s methodology within its own pages, suggesting that “whether we know it or not, … we approach literature with Romantic assumptions and Romantic expectations” (278). Not only does the caveat pass unheeded, however, thus confirming Davie’s misgivings regarding our lack of self-awareness, but his concern that “in Britain ‘virtually all the sanctuaries have been violated, all the pieties blasphemed,’ so that even ‘the bread we eat – chemically blanched, ready-sliced, untouched by human hand – bears no relation to the wheat-ear’” (274) is characterized as “angry, almost deliberately unbalanced” (274). At the risk of sounding disconcerted, as I reach for yet another slice of Sunblest-Bimbo, it is also possible that he has a point.
Chesterton, G. K. Tremendous Trifles. New York: Cosimo, 2007. Print.
|Conversing with the Past|
The Pen and the Cross: Catholicism and English Literature, 1850-2000, by Richard Griffiths.
New York: Continuum, 2010. 272 pp. $34.95.
Reviewed by Patrick Query, U.S. Military Academy
If ever a book’s content were adequately characterized by its title, The Pen and the Cross is that book. Richard Griffiths offers a broad survey of “Catholic literature in the English language, primarily written in Great Britain” in which the analysis rarely moves beyond “and”: Writing and religion. English and Catholic. The nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Like several others before him, Griffiths does not reveal much shape in the panorama of ideas wherein Britain, Roman Catholicism, and the past 150 years of creative writing overlap but do not often cohere. Absent the presence of a uniform or even recognizable movement, school, politics, or aesthetics, beating this material into satisfying form has so far proved elusive, yet the books attempting to do so continue to appear.
The Pen and the Cross feels like a labor of love. Griffiths is a retired Professor of French, and his critical footing seems somewhat more sure when he is discussing developments among nineteenth- and twentieth-century French Catholic writers than those among their British counterparts. Griffiths is no novice at literary criticism, but many of his critical gestures strike one as surprisingly innocent. One is informed at the outset of the book that “Of recent years … the interface between literature and politics has become an important area of research, in relation to a wide range of western European countries.” The questions that follow this announcement, and that serve to frame the book’s arguments, are likewise vague—or, worse, have already been asked many times over. “To what extent does commitment … affect the literary worth of what is being written?” “What do we mean by Catholic literature?” Griffiths’s answers to such questions seem a reasonable starting place for the curious reader. The problem is that a starting place is no longer what is needed.
Griffiths’s previous book, The Reactionary Revolution, dealt with the writing of French Catholics from 1870 to 1914. “Many years ago,” he tells the reader, “I wrote a book on the Catholic revival in French literature” (x). That book, as it happens, appeared in English translation in 1966. Professor Griffiths does not hesitate to cite it liberally in the notes to the new book, one of a number of choices that reinforce the impression that The Pen and the Cross is having a conversation more with the past than the present, despite a late and brief section on contemporary author David Lodge.
The achievement of The Pen and the Cross is one of breadth rather than depth. It covers 150 years of literary history, after all, in a little over 200 pages. Its structure is gentle in the extreme: the book divided into seven sections, the sections divided into two or three chapters, the chapters divided into subsections, often of only a few paragraphs. Each chapter has its own notes, and these are very light. I believe I was at first guilty of misreading The Pen and the Cross, of holding it to a standard to which it does not aspire, asking it to be something it is not. One looks in vain in Griffiths’s book for insights beyond the most general kind or for new claims that are other than speculative. He does juxtapose works (by Hopkins, Waugh, Greene, Jones, etc.) valorized by literary scholars with those piously sentimental works (by Cecilia Caddell, Emily Agnew, Canon William Barry, Aubrey de Vere, and others) dismissed by them, but the latter do constitute a meaningful piece of the tradition—such as it is—of modern British Catholic writing, and that is something that has not heretofore been done so thoroughly.
Beyond this, there is precious little to distinguish the book from those by Joseph Pearce, Ian Ker, and Patrick Allitt, except that The Pen and the Cross seems to arrive, as does the hero of Waugh’s story “Out of Depth,” like a traveler from out of the past.
 Across the Atlantic, Paul Elie’s The Life You Save May Be Your Own (reviewed in EWNS 35.2) is also in this category of critical studies full of interesting examples but in which the center cannot hold.
|Without a Hitch|
Arguably: Essays, by Christopher Hitchens.
New York: Twelve, 2011. 788 pp. $30.00. London: Atlantic Books, £30.00.
Reviewed by Jeffrey A. Manley
The late Christopher Hitchens often indicated that his favorite twentieth-century writer was George Orwell; his second favorite was Evelyn Waugh. (Odd how these two disparate writers keep being linked.) At age twelve, Hitchens was given a copy of Decline and Fall by a schoolmaster. Ironically, this master was later “sacked after a horrific lapse into pederasty.” Arguably, a collection of reviews, articles, and essays, shows that many years later Hitchens was still reading and quoting Waugh.
Arguably is a doorstopper at nearly 800 pages. Most pieces were written after Hitchens’s last collection, Love, Poverty, and War (2004). Two articles relate to Waugh, one having appeared before Love, Poverty, and War. This essay, written in 2003, first appeared in The Atlantic on the occasion of Waugh’s centenary. “Evelyn Waugh: The Permanent Adolescent” takes its title from Cyril Connolly’s “Theory of Permanent Adolescence” in Enemies of Promise (1938). As paraphrased by Hitchens, Connolly posits that “Englishmen of a certain caste are doomed to re-enact their schooldays.” Aside from his title, however, Hitchens does little with the idea. Hitchens’s criticism is instead based on the unfinished essay on Waugh which Orwell started shortly before his death.
It seems as if Hitchens is expressing joint homage to Orwell and Waugh, who shared 2003 as their centenary year. Hitchens describes Orwell’s unfinished essay as “the last book review to which the life of the freelance hack had condemned him,” but Orwell seems to have aimed for more. A few months before he started the Waugh essay, Orwell’s last review of fiction, a reconsideration of Scott-King’s Modern Europe, appeared in the New York Times on 20 February 1948. The Waugh essay, intended for the Partisan Review, was less hack work than a larger project that occurred to Orwell himself, not his editor or agent, probably a result of the Scott-King review or the visits Waugh made to Orwell’s sickbed. Orwell’s sanatorium was at Cranham near Stroud in Gloucestershire, not far from Waugh’s home near Dursley.
The fragment from Orwell’s essay (published in the final volume of his complete works) is quoted at length by Hitchens. In Waugh’s favor, Orwell argues that it is more courageous in 1948 to profess belief in God or capitalism than to proclaim oneself an anarchist, atheist, or pacifist (he might have added Marxist). On the other hand, one cannot judge the value of an opinion simply by the amount of courage required to express it. The fragment ends with two conclusions: “One cannot really be Catholic and grown-up;” and “Waugh is about as good a novelist as one can be (i.e., as novelists go today) while holding untenable opinions.” Hitchens reconsiders most of Waugh’s fiction in light of Orwell’s conclusions. He deviates as he pleases, but much of what he says has been said before. Hitchens makes a meal of Waugh’s inability to write convincingly about sex, offering three examples, most prominently the “writhe-making” and oft-quoted shipboard love scene in Brideshead Revisited. That is hardly an original observation.
Hitchens may, however, be the first to note a fallacy in Waugh’s statement that he would have been far more horrible without his religion. No friend of Roman Catholicism, Hitchens argues that religion made Waugh (and his writing) worse in two ways: first, he took positions based on religious beliefs that are politically abhorrent (at least to Hitchens and many others), e.g., his “support” of Croatian fascists during wartime service in Yugoslavia and his “animosity toward Jews.” Second, his religion led Waugh to write, in Helena and BR, “narratives made ridiculous by a sentimental and credulous approach to the supernatural. This is what Orwell meant by the incompatibility of faith with maturity.” Hitchens dismisses the concluding chapters of Unconditional Surrender, where Guy Crouchback secures the expatriation of Jewish refugees, as “one of the most bogus and leaden things [Waugh] ever wrote, fully materializing Orwell’s earlier misgivings. And in this instance it is the suspect politics derived from his religious beliefs that directly occasion and condition the bad writing—which is to say, they negate the whole genius of Waugh in the first place.”
I am not sure Hitchens is sufficiently versed in Waugh’s personal beliefs to justify these conclusions, but he is entitled to state them and might have done so more effectively had he explained what he understands to have been the teachings of Roman Catholicism. It is not obvious that Waugh’s attitude towards Jews was different from that of Orwell or many other writers of their generation and class. Orwell was hardly influenced in this matter by Roman Catholicism. Nor is it persuasive to cite Waugh’s “support” for fascism or any other political movement. Waugh was essentially apolitical and refused to “support” the British Conservative Party, much less political parties outside Britain. Any sympathy he may have had for fascists fell well short of support, and he probably saw them as the lesser of two evils, an alternative to communist regimes clearly inimical to Roman Catholics as well as other Christians.
Hitchens neglects to mention Waugh’s review of Richard Rovere’s Senator Joe McCarthy (1959), published in the Spectator on 5 February 1960. Waugh endorsed Rovere’s condemnation of McCarthyism, though the conservative journalist and McCarthy apologist William F. Buckley, Jr. urged him to reconsider in the interest of solidarity against communism (Letters of Waugh 536). Hitchens might also have pointed out that the Roman Catholic hierarchy in the United States was conspicuously silent about McCarthy’s practice of character assassination. One of McCarthy’s staunchest and most vociferous supporters was Cardinal Francis J. Spellman, Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York. The Roman Catholic Church may have been complicit in questionable political activities cited by Hitchens, but in this case Waugh did not allow the Church to sway his sense of McCarthy’s innate vileness.
The second half of the essay is devoted to what Hitchens describes as the “summa” of Waugh’s career: the Sword of Honour trilogy. He postponed re-reading with “definite anticipation, which wasn’t enough by itself to account for my disappointment.” Again, the religiosity conflicts with Hitchens’s atheism, but that should not have surprised anyone who had read the novels. One can skip religious passages without missing vast swathes of the trilogy that Hitchens judges Waugh’s greatest achievement. Once you know the story, why bother re-reading bits that bore you? Hitchens characterizes the account of the battle of Crete (which comprises most of the second volume) “as one of the great passages of wartime prose.”
From Orwell’s menu, Hitchens has selected a bitter meal. If Orwell’s review of Scott-King is any indication, his essay on Waugh’s other works would have resembled what Hitchens himself produced. One is left with a question: why, given the negativity in Hitchens’s essay, did he continue to be fond of Waugh’s work?
Missing from Hitchens’s Waugh essay is any admission that Waugh produced some of the funniest prose and best satire that has ever been written. Hitchens’s long essay seldom mentions Waugh’s most humorous books, such as Scoop, Put Out More Flags, and The Loved One. His second Waugh-related essay is, however, entitled “Fleet Street’s Finest: From Waugh to Frayn.” In this article, published in The Guardian in 2005, Hitchens reviews his life as a Fleet Street hack before newspapers moved to Wapping and were irreversibly transformed by computers and the internet. He uses as background the fictionalization of journalism by Waugh in Scoop (1938) and Michael Frayn in Towards the End of the Morning (1967). Hitchens claims that most journalists regard Scoop, one of Waugh’s funniest books, as a “work of pitiless realism rather than antic fantasy.” Corporate and technical changes have led to the end of Fleet Street’s dominance, and, Hitchens concludes, there will never again be a “major novel, flattering or unflattering, in which a reporter is a protagonist. Or if there is he or she will be a blogger or some other species of cyber-artist, working from home and conjuring the big story from the vastness of electronic space.” Perhaps he is right. One cannot imagine William Boot producing laughs by communicating with the home office via the internet rather than telegraph. There are only so many jokes about finding which café has the best wi-fi connection.
Scoop is evidently one of Hitchens’s favorites, as measured by the number of his citations. Hitchens has frequently been a foreign correspondent in the world’s few remaining remote locations. In Love, Poverty, and War, Hitchens included an introduction he had written for the Penguin Modern Classics edition of Scoop (2000). Free from Orwell’s yoke, Hitchens declares that the unlikely combination of Waugh’s humor and realism produces a near-perfect book. Hitchens concludes that Scoop is “Waugh at the mid-season point of his perfect pitch; youthful and limber and light as a feather.”
In his introduction, Hitchens carefully quotes examples of Waugh’s humor. Conceding that “Waugh was a reactionary and that’s that,” Hitchens prefers to keep the tone light. After summarizing the novel’s often overlooked satire of the English countryside during Mr. Salter’s visit to Boot Magna, Hitchens concludes that everyone in the novel gets what he wants (or deserves): “Even William’s depraved Uncle Theodore, with his ‘dark and costly expeditions to London,’ ends the book with a reasonable chance of getting laid.” Hitchens closes with examples of how little a foreign correspondent’s life has changed since Scoop:
In Moscow in the waning days of Communist rule, colleagues of mine discovered the pre-Gorbachev ruler Konstantin Chernenko had died. But they got the tip from the cleaning ladies appointed to prepare the hall for the lying-in-state. Unwilling to give such lowly sources for their scoop, and deciding that everyone in the Soviet Union ultimately worked for the regime, they attributed the rumor to ‘low level government employees.’
Hitchens is worthy of the adjective “Wavian.” Another example is his review (in Arguably) of the authorized biography of Stephen Spender. After quoting a bawdy limerick about Spender, Hitchens comments that “In a long life Spender never quite succeeded in overcoming the wide-spread impression (which he may have privately shared) that there was something vaguely preposterous about him.” Hitchens goes on to claim that “Spender was to pass a great deal more of his life ‘being a poet’ than he ever did writing poetry.” With evident relish, Hitchens describes Spender’s making a “bloody fool” of himself by denying knowledge that Encounter received CIA funding. As one of the editors, Spender had been unable to secure the support of T. S. Eliot, who was “chronically suspicious of the ‘American auspices’ of the magazine.” According to Hitchens, Spender “managed, with that providence that sometimes protects the terminally innocent, to escape into a third act of his life” by aiding writers in the Soviet Union seeking free expression. Waugh himself would have enjoyed this review.
Another of Hitchens’s favorites is Brideshead. This choice seems surprising, since Hitchens deems SoH Waugh’s masterpiece and complains that religiosity mars BR as well as SoH. The trilogy has, Hitchens finds, “slower buildups, larger tracts, and, it must be said, many longueurs,” so quotation is difficult. In a review of the second filmed version (not so far included in any of his collections), Hitchens explains why he frequently refers to BR, finding it “oddly capacious and elastic, disclosing new depths and perspectives with each reading.” Brideshead fulfills “a yearning for a lost or different upbringing [that] is fairly universal” and describes “the struggle between the sacred and the profane.” Hitchens mentions Orwell’s criticism of the novel’s immaturity but identifies BR’s potency as “the awful and ineffaceable memory of the first world war.” He cites examples: Charles’s loss of his mother and Lady Marchmain’s loss of her three brothers, the generation too young to join in the carnage and the martyrdom of those who did, the symbolic “death’s head.” Hitchens dismisses the second film version as “barely a travesty” (“It’s all on account of the war,” Guardian, 26 September 2008).
Aside from two articles on Waugh, Arguably includes others of interest to Waugh fans. The book is evenly divided between literary and political topics, the literary half between sections dealing with U.S. and English writers. In addition to Orwell, many of Waugh’s contemporaries are reviewed, including Graham Greene, Anthony Powell, Vladimir Nabokov, and P. G. Wodehouse, all of whom appear to be included in Hitchens’s list of top twentieth-century novelists. There are also essays on Somerset Maugham, Edward Upward, John Buchan, and Rebecca West, among others of Waugh’s generation. Hitchens includes articles on contemporaries: Martin Amis, Saul Bellow, John Updike, and Gore Vidal, among many others. Updike and Vidal are accused of having written beyond their shelf lives. The canon is also reconsidered in Hitchens’s articles about Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, and Samuel Johnson.
The political articles are a mixed bag, like Hitchens’s political philosophy in his final years. He seems to avoid his infamous support of the Bush-Cheney-Blair invasion of Iraq. Although I do not claim to have read all the political content, much of what I did read is tedious or already dated. There are also, however, several essays on “Amusements, Annoyances and Disappointments” as well as language (“Words’ Worth”), all entertaining.
It might appear that Hitchens has included nearly everything he wrote as a journalist since 2004 plus some items left out of earlier collections. But if that were the case, he surely would have included the Guardian article on BR mentioned above. Moreover, a quick check of recent Vanity Fair issues turned up several articles, such as those on Eton and his loss of voice, which warranted inclusion but may have been dropped for want of space. Hitchens continued to write articles after the last included here (“From Abbottabad to Worse”), published in July 2011. A posthumous collection may be expected. If so, one hopes that articles on literary topics are preferred to those on politics. Arguably is well edited and printed, and it has an excellent index, missing from some earlier collections. The index facilitates selective reading—an important feature in a book of this length and diversity.
In his New Yorker obituary of Hitchens, Christopher Buckley is reminded of two fragments from other writers:
The first is from “Brideshead Revisited,” a book Christopher loved and which he could practically quote in its entirety. Anthony Blanche, the exotic, outrageous aesthete, is sent down from Oxford. Charles Ryder, the book’s narrator, mourns: “Anthony Blanche had taken something away with him when he went; he had locked a door and hung the key on his chain; and all his friends, among whom he had been a stranger, needed him now.”
Christopher was never a “stranger to his friends”—ça va sans dire, as he would say… But in leaving them—and the rest of us—for “the undiscovered country” (he could recite more or less all of “Hamlet,” too) Christopher has taken something away with him, and his friends, in whose company I am so very grateful to have been, will need him now. We are now, finally, without a Hitch.
The other bit is from Housman…
Smart lad to slip betimes away
From fields where glory does not stay,
And early though the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose.
 These writers are often cited in both Arguably and Hitchens’s 2010 memoir, Hitch 22. Writers such as Martin Amis and James Fenton are friends of Hitchens, frequently mentioned in the memoir for reasons other than their writings. Although Hitchens professed to hold Saul Bellow in similarly high esteem and is said by Christopher Buckley to have admired P. G. Wodehouse above all other writers, he seems to cite their works less often than Orwell’s and Waugh’s.
 Hitchens makes this same point in God is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything (2007) but leaves out the claim that Waugh’s Roman Catholicism inspired antagonism against Jews. In that book, written after “Permanent Adolescent,” Hitchens explains in detail how and why the Roman Catholic Church supported fascist regimes (in Italy and Spain as well as Croatia) and implies that the Church’s policy led Waugh to take the same position (187). According to Hitchens, Waugh in 1944 wrote that only the Third Reich stood between Europe and barbarism (probably a reference to Waugh’s diary for 13 February 1944: “It is hard fighting against Rome. We bombed Castel Gandolfo. The Russians now propose a partition of East Prussia. It is a fact that the Germans now represent Europe against the world. Thank God Japan is not on our side too” ). Hitchens cites Waugh and T. S. Eliot as examples of the few respectable intellectuals who gave an “audience” to fascism in England, even though England lacked a credible fascist movement (God is not Great 237). (He lumps the two writers together as “Catholics,” though they had very different views.) Notwithstanding alleged “support” for fascism, Hitchens “would prefer to have Evelyn Waugh’s shelf of writing just as it is and to appreciate that one cannot have the novels without the torments and evils of its author” (188).
 The same conclusion was voiced by another journalist, Auberon Waugh, in an essay on Scoop written for the Folio Society. It was collected in Kiss Me, Chudleigh, ed. William Cook (London, 2010), which will be reviewed in a future issue of Waugh Studies.
 This assessment comes from an exchange with T. S. Eliot quoted by Spender in his 1951 autobiography, World within World. When he reviewed Spender’s autobiography, Waugh used the same quote to make the same point as Hitchens sixty years later: “Two Unquiet Lives,” Essays, Articles and Reviews, 395.
|The Inimitable Edith|
Edith Sitwell: Avant-Garde Poet, English Genius, by Richard Greene.
London: Virago Press, 2011. 542 pp. £25.00.
Reviewed by Robert Murray Davis, University of Oklahoma
Richard Greene has at least three jobs in this new biography of Edith Sitwell, the first in thirty years: tell her life story, place her in cultural and social context, and establish her as a major English poet of the twentieth century in the company of Yeats and Eliot.
The first two, tightly interrelated, are the easiest and most deftly handled. Drawing upon a wealth of new evidence, including the correspondence of Sitwell and the unpronounceable and often unspeakable painter Pavel Tchelitchew and biographies of her brothers Osbert and Sacheverell, he portrays a woman whose body was shaped into more conventional form by various medical devices while her mind was shaped, perhaps warped, by Plantagenet heritage. She could be kind in person and cruel in public utterances, and Greene acknowledges her unreliability as memoirist: she often mythologized her life in the interests of her poetry and toward the end of her life in Taken Care Of was capable of “reshaping a good deal of old material, eliminating nuance and adding ferocity.”
She had a good deal to be ferocious about. Her parents were, respectively, neglectful and abusive; her brother Osbert apparently cheated her out of a badly needed inheritance. Her heritage gave her a sense of noblesse oblige that her resources were inadequate to support, and she devoted a great deal of time and money to people who, if not exactly unworthy, drained her financially and emotionally. Physically she was seldom entirely well, and as she aged, physical decay and alcohol made her increasingly paranoid. It seems a wonder that she was able to function at all, though, as Greene notes, she seemed to gain energy from picking fights.
Perhaps more rewarding were the salons and other gatherings she conducted over the years, peopled by a galaxy of poets, painters, and musicians from the modernist period, though not all were modernists. The cast of characters changed through the years—Yeats, Eliot, Sassoon, Woolf, Arnold Bennett, Graves, Stein, Forster, Huxley, and Graham Greene during the 1920s; Kenneth Clark, C. P. Snow, Harold Acton, Cyril Connolly, Sir John Gielgud, Victor Gollancz, Greene again, and Carson McCullers at the celebration of her seventy-fifth birthday.
Throughout the book Greene is careful to provide context, noting, for example, Sitwell’s difference from other women poets during World War I, her cautious connection with Cubism and Surrealism and with various painters, her undoubted but undeveloped musical talent and later connection with musicians and composers—most notably in the various versions of Façade. She could display unexpectedly wide tastes, as in her change from rejection to subsequent acceptance of (some of) the Auden circle and of later Movement writers, and, even more unexpectedly, in her praise of Amis’s Lucky Jim—let alone of Allen Ginsberg and Gregory Corso, whose invitation to pose nude for an anthology she declined.
Sitwell was a public figure for a half-century: she seems most likely to be remembered for her performances on stage; for editing in several anthologies, regarded by some as capriciously selected; for editing the anti-Georgian Wheels; and for literary controversies involving almost everyone not invited to her salons and some who were. These activities will probably be of most interest to students of Evelyn Waugh. There are two surprises: the contention that the architectural painter John Piper, whom Waugh encountered at Renishaw in 1942, is “undoubtedly” a model for Charles Ryder, and that Sir George Sitwell was a model for Ryder’s father.
All of this valuable information leaves out of account Greene’s attempt to establish (or, given praise of her books as they appeared, re-establish) Sitwell as a major poet. For the most part, he attempts to do so by explaining how and why she became the kind of poet she was, by pointing to characteristic images and themes and to her theory of sounds, harder to illustrate convincingly. He quotes all or part of a number of poems and indicates which he thinks the best of a particular period and of the whole body of her work. Neglect of her poetry from the 1950s until now he attributes to the taste for a “close and observant small kind of poetry” that Sitwell regarded as “morally and spiritually evasive,” based “on a naïve confidence about the intelligibility of the material world” instead of bringing, as a real poet must, “a new creation myth to a world trapped by its materialist ways of thinking.”
Judging from Greene’s quotations, some of the late poems are at least interesting and perhaps more, but it is not clear from this showing that Sitwell produced a large or significant enough body of work to compete with the great modernists. Perhaps a selection of her best work might do more to support her case than Greene’s necessarily general commendation can do. Still, however one regards Sitwell as poet, the book is an essential guide to an important segment of literary culture in the twentieth century, and it should be published in America to gain the wider acclaim it deserves.
Besides its many virtues, the book offers the kind of information that Waugh would have enjoyed, like the fact that Barry Humphries, the creator of Dame Edna Everage and the son-in-law of Stephen Spender, opened a horticultural show with “As for me, I’m no ordinary mother and wife, / I was Dame Edith Sitwell in a previous life.” Still better is Sitwell’s attribution to Eliot in his Practical Cats period of Tweety’s lines, “I tort I taw a Puddy-Tat.” It’s an unexpected delight to imagine Sitwell watching cartoons.
|Waugh’s Career in Television|
Face to Face, DVD (6 discs). BBC Worldwide/2 Entertain Video, 2009. £31.97.
Reviewed by Jeffrey A. Manley
In the early 1960s Evelyn Waugh appeared in two interviews on the BBC, which at that time had only a single TV broadcasting network. The first, in June 1960, was conducted by John Freeman on Face to Face. This series ran from 1959 to 1962 and was revived in 1989. Freeman was a Labour MP elected in 1945 and associated with the left-wing Bevanite faction. He later edited the New Statesman and later still served as Britain’s ambassador to India and then the USA. Waugh asked his friend Tom Driberg, also active in Labour politics, for information about Freeman to use if the interview got rough. It is unclear if Driberg responded: there is no letter from him regarding Freeman among Waugh’s incoming correspondence at the British Library.
The second interview was conducted in 1964, also by the BBC, and the interviewer was Elizabeth Jane Howard (later to spend a few years as the second Mrs. Kingsley Amis). It was broadcast on 16 February 1964 as part of the Monitor series, a TV arts “magazine” conceived and produced by Huw Wheldon and broadcast from 1958 to 1965. In its final years, Wheldon took a less active role, perhaps why Howard identifies Christopher Burstall as producer of this installment.
Anyone who has seen both interviews will agree that the first is better. Freeman is aggressive at times, but Waugh gives as good as he gets in equally aggressive and articulate responses. In the second interview, Waugh appears to have aged by more than three years. Moreover, the interviewer consistently threw softballs. Waugh himself insisted upon making up most of the questions. Other insights into this interview are recounted by Howard in her memoirs, Slipstream (London, 2002), 350-52.
Waugh’s first interview has been included in a collection of thirty-four interviews from Face to Face. The only one left out is Albert Finney, who apparently withheld rights. Waugh’s interview is certainly among the best. In a 1989 interview produced for rebroadcast of the series, also included in the DVD set, John Freeman commented on the session with Waugh. He found Waugh’s attitude “antagonistic” and was disappointed that he “didn’t succeed in getting more out of him, because of all the people on the list of Face to Faces, he is the one I think I hold in the most honour.” But Waugh’s attitude makes the interview enjoyable to watch. Freeman questioned his low esteem for the BBC and asked why he had agreed to be interviewed. Waugh answered without a moment’s hesitation: “Poverty.” His timing could not have been better if the line had been rehearsed dozens of times.
In a 48-page booklet that accompanies the DVDs, the series producer, Hugh Burnett, expands on BBC contact with Waugh before and after the interview. Burnett, who died at age 84 in January 2012, recalls a 1953 BBC radio interview recorded at Waugh’s home in Gloucestershire and how that led to the paranoia Waugh describes in Pinfold. In confirmation of Waugh’s answer in the 1960 TV interview, Burnett notes that Waugh “requested a ridiculously high fee, and we drew up a contract to include every conceivable right. He accepted.” Artist Feliks Topolski, who drew the portraits for Face to Face, accompanied Burnett to Waugh’s house at Combe Florey in advance of the recording that took place in London. Burnett describes Waugh’s playful teasing at that session. Waugh asked why Topolski didn’t have an easel and whether the heat in the TV studio would require him to wear a tropical suit.
After the broadcast, Waugh’s teasing continued. He sent a postcard to the BBC asking if they had missed a cigar cutter which he had found in his pocket. In another card, he noted that, while he had not “seen the exhibition,” someone had told him that it had ended rather abruptly. He concluded, “I assure you that I don’t care.” According to Burnett, the BBC removed Waugh’s remark about J. B. Priestley, which was potentially libelous. He regrets that the remark was edited, “because Priestley versus Waugh on the question of whether Priestley was an ass would have been worth every penny of a legal action.” With both potential litigants safely dead, the DVD has restored the remark about Priestley.
Other interviews are of varying degrees of interest. Those of other artists, writers, musicians, and philosophers retain vitality. These include Cecil Beaton (who indicates that he still considered Waugh an enemy), Bertrand Russell, Carl Jung, Augustus John, Henry Moore, Compton Mackenzie, Otto Klemperer, and John Osborne. Edith Sitwell was also interviewed but revealed little more than her name. Actors, filmmakers, reporters, and publishers are also still worth listening to. These include John Huston, Tony Hancock, Victor Gollancz, and Gilbert Harding, a TV presenter reduced to tears by Freeman’s badgering about his mother’s death. On the other hand, athletes, movie stars, and pop singers (such as Adam Faith, Stirling Moss, and Simone Signoret) have little to say. Most of the remainder are politicians. They were tedious at the time, crashing bores today.
The collection consists of six discs in an attractively designed case and cover. A 48-page introduction contains an entry by Hugh Burnett about each interview. The final disc includes John Freeman’s reminiscences in 1989, more than twenty years after broadcast. The menu makes it easy to select interviews of interest and skip others. The DVDs are encoded in Region 2 and 4 formats and will not play on most DVD players purchased in North America. They can probably be played on computers with DVD programming or on players reprogrammed to override region coding, which can be managed with help from the internet. But be prepared for a problem if your computer or player is region-restricted. The DVDs are recorded in PAL TV format, which may cause additional problems for North American viewers if played on older TV sets.
Waugh’s 1964 interview is not available on DVD yet, although I once bought a copy on eBay. The BBC has recently posted on the internet interviews of writers from their archives. Many are of the same vintage as those in which Waugh appeared. In response to a query as to why the Waugh interviews had not been posted, BBC Archives said that they intended to do so but were negotiating with the Waugh family over terms. A good plan would put both interviews on one DVD (with no region restrictions) comparable to the CD of radio broadcasts released in 2008 in the BBC/British Library Spoken Word series.
 The 1953 radio interview was part of the Personal Call series. It was recorded at Piers Court on 18 August 1953 and broadcast on 2 October 1953 on the BBC’s Overseas Service.
 Martin Stannard says the fee for the Face to Face interview was £250, and for the Monitor interview £300. See Later Years, 430 and 477. That would total about £7000 today.
Frances Parkinson Keyes
In a letter to his wife dated 10 December 1948, Evelyn Waugh announced that he had met Frances Parkinson Keyes, presumably on a visit to New Orleans, and enclosed her autograph.
Keyes (rhymes with "skies," 1885-1970) was a prolific author and Roman-Catholic convert. Her works include Dinner at Antoine's (1948) and several biographies of saints.
A blog called Bookride claims that Waugh was "known to ensconce himself in an armchair on a rainy afternoon and plough through her novels. He found the writing so undemanding as to be therapeutic."
If anyone knows more about Waugh's interest in Keyes, Waugh Studies would be pleased to hear about it. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
|Evelyn Waugh Society|
The Evelyn Waugh Society has 132 members. To join, please visit http://evelynwaughsociety.org.
The Evelyn Waugh Discussion List has 77 members. To join, please visit http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Evelyn_Waugh.
The Evelyn Waugh Society is also on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/evelynwaughsoc.
The Waugh Society is providing RSS feed: http://evelynwaughsociety.org/feed.
And the Waugh Society’s web site has added opportunities for threaded discussions:
|Evelyn Waugh Undergraduate Essay Contest |
The Eighth Annual Evelyn Waugh Undergraduate Essay Contest is sponsored by Evelyn Waugh Studies. Undergraduates in any part of the world are eligible. The editorial board will judge submissions and award a prize of $250. Essays up to 5000 words on any aspect of the life or work of Evelyn Waugh should be submitted to Dr. John H. Wilson, preferably by e-mail at email@example.com, or by post to Department of English, Lock Haven University, Lock Haven PA 17745, USA. The deadline is 31 December 2012.
|Brideshead Still Best|
In his blog for the New York Daily News on 18 January 2012, Alexander Nazaryan wrote an article entitled “‘Downton Abbey’ has nothing on ‘Brideshead Revisited’: Evelyn Waugh was the master of British aristocratic decline.”
|That Dull Old Sin Adultery|
On 30 January 2012, The Telegraph published “David Lodge on five adulterous fictions,” including A Handful of Dust.
|A Crisis of Masculinity|
In “Both a mirror and a catharsis,” an article published in the International Herald Tribune for 7 February 2012, James Carroll considered the television series based on Brideshead Revisited: “The homoerotic undercurrents flowing between Ryder and Flyte hinted at what was often described in postwar Britain as a crisis of masculinity, but they resonated in the faux-macho America of the early Reagan era, too.”
“Did Rossetti really need to exhume his wife?” by Jan Marsh appeared in the Times Literary Supplement on 15 February 2012. Evelyn Waugh describes the death of Elizabeth Siddal in Rossetti, but Marsh dismisses Waugh’s account as “gossip” and “rumour.”
|Class and Culture|
Evelyn Waugh and Vile Bodies were mentioned in the first episode of a new series on BBC2, Melvyn Bragg on Class and Culture, broadcast on 24 February 2012. The program included a reading of the famous passage on the various parties of the Bright Young People. Waugh also appeared in the second episode, broadcast on 2 March 2012, in an excerpt from the Face to Face interview in 1960.
As part of its Friday Late series, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London arranged an evening of entertainment based on the Bright Young Things. The program included two performances of a theater adaptation of Vile Bodies in the Raphael Galleries on 24 February 2012.
|Film of "Bella Fleace"|
According to an item in the Evening Standard for 27 February 2012, a film based on Evelyn Waugh's short story "Bella Fleace Gave a Party" will premiere at the Aspen Shortsfest in Colorado in April 2012. Directed by Leonora Lonsdale, the film stars Johnny Standing and Siân Phillips, and it will also be shown at the Sarasota Film Festival in Florida.
|The Comic Tragedians|
A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh appeared in Shalom Auslander's list of top ten comic tragedies in The Guardian on 29 February 2012.
|Alexander Waugh Lectures|
Alexander Waugh lectured on “Evelyn Waugh and the Question of Inheritance” at Loyola Notre Dame Library in Baltimore on 12 March 2012; Redwood Library in Newport, Rhode Island on 15 March; Georgetown University Library in Washington, DC on 19 March; and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas on 22 March.
|Sword of Honour as Roman-Fleuve|
In The Guardian for 14 March 2012, Jeffrey Archer listed Evelyn Waugh's Sword of Honour as one of the top romans-fleuves in English.
|Sword of Honour in The Spectator|
In "Ending a war story," an entry in The Spectator's Book Blog posted on 22 March 2012, Steven McGregor reconsiders Evelyn Waugh's Sword of Honour in relation to works by Somerset Maugham and Ford Madox Ford. In "The dishonour of the Second World War," a follow-up posted on 23 March 2012, David Blackburn focuses on Waugh's trilogy.
|Evelyn Waugh Lecture and Dinner|
Lancing College will hold the annual Evelyn Waugh Lecture and Dinner on 19 April 2012: drinks at 6:50 pm, lecture at 7:30, dinner at 8:30. The speaker is the Rev. Prof. Richard Griffiths, who was at Lancing from 1948 to 1953, and who wrote The Pen and the Cross. Alexander Waugh is likely to attend. Tickets are £45. Lancing would welcome up to ten members of the Evelyn Waugh Society. Please apply to Claire Welling.
|Still Causing Trouble|
In his autobiography, Outsider: Always Almost: Never Quite (2011), Brian Sewell describes "National Service as a Squaddie." In 1952, he used to read Put Out More Flags by Evelyn Waugh on breaks. Someone reported his habit, and a warrant officer told Sewell not to bring the book on parade again.
|Gilbert Pinfold and Mental Disorder|
The Royal College of Psychiatrists has posted Dr Alexandra Pitman's review of the 2004 edition of Evelyn Waugh's The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold. The RCPsych also provides a link to an essay entitled "Creativity and Mental Disorder" by Dr John Morgan, who considers Waugh along with many other writers and performers.
|Relations with the Berkeleys|
Tony Scotland, author of Lennox & Freda, pointed out that Lennox and Freda Berkeley were friends with Waugh’s cronies Patrick Kinross and Dorothy "Coote" Heber-Percy (nee Lygon), in addition to Diana Cooper and John Greenidge. Coote was Freda’s best friend, and Kinross often exchanged gossip with Freda, so it is somewhat surprising that the Waughs were not better acquainted with the Berkeleys. Tony called Freda and asked if there had been some difficulty. Freda said, “There was certainly no animosity or anything like that, but you know people do grow apart.”
|Our “New” Name|
David Bittner recalls once having suggested that our Founding Editor, Paul Doyle, change the name from Evelyn Waugh Newsletter to Evelyn Waugh Studies. Dr. Doyle accepted the idea, and Volume 24, Number 1 (Spring 1990) appeared as Evelyn Waugh Newsletter and Studies. Dr. Doyle would have dropped “Newsletter,” but typesetters in the college print shop found it too hard to remove the word. It was easier to add “and Studies.”
End of Evelyn Waugh Studies, Vol. 42, No. 3
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