The Guardian reviewed Alan Hollinghurst’s new novel earlier this week. The review is by Alex Preston and opens with a link to a Waugh novel:
Alan Hollinghurst’s sixth novel, The Sparsholt Affair, opens in Oxford during the second world war and ends in London in 2012. … This is a book about gay life, about art, about family, but most of all it’s about the remorseless passage of time. The 1940 section of the book is narrated by a bright but not quite brilliant undergraduate …. If the opening section of The Stranger’s Child [Hollinghurst’s previous novel] doffed its cap to EM Forster and Henry James, the line between tribute and pastiche never quite resolved, this is Hollinghurst showing that he can do an Oxford novel as well as Waugh. He’s wonderful on the “beautiful delay” of university life, on the cloisters and the quadrangles, tentative intimacies building between friends and lovers.
Luke O’Neill, Professor of Biochemistry at Trinity College, Dublin, offers this advice to today’s students in the Irish student newspaper University Times:
Evelyn Waugh the great English writer once said there were only two grades worth getting at university – a first (the top grade) or a third (barely a pass). I will paraphrase him – a first means you are really good, a 2.1 means you tried but probably shouldn’t have bothered, a 2.2 means you’re not that good (at least at the subject you’ve been studying), but a third, well, that means you had a damn good time. In these troubled times (and remember all times are troubled, but usually for different reasons) a university should be a haven, a mother (hence the term alma mater) and an oasis of learning and research. A place apart, which “sticks it to the man”.
The advice comes, if memory serves, from Charles Ryder’s Cousin Jasper in Brideshead Revisited. Waugh himself passed his exams with a poor third class grade but never received his degree because he went down before completing his residency requirement.
The 1965 farce is all of the following: madcap, irreverent, dark, poetic, fearless, reckless, lyrical, sick, ahead of its time, brimming with social commentary, hilarious. A sendup of the funeral industry that really sends up the American way itself, “The Loved One” is in that exalted realm of sublime black comedies alongside Charlie Chaplin‘s “The Great Dictator” and Stanley Kubrick‘s “Dr. Strangelove.” But it’s not for everyone.
Finally, Waugh’s novel A Handful of Dust is reviewed in today’s Wall Street Journal by Anka Muhlstein. That article is behind a paywall but may be of interest to those with a subscription.