D & F Filming Moves to Winchester

The Southern Daily Echo, a local paper that covers Hampshire, reports that the crew filming the BBC adaptation of Waugh's novel Decline and Fall has moved from Cardiff to Winchester and is filming on location at Winchester College. According to the Echo:

Comedian Whitehall was spotted on set yesterday as filming began in and around Winchester College for the series, which also stars David Suchet. However, fans hoping to get a glimpse of Desperate Housewives star Longoria are set to be disappointed as she returned to the United States after filming in Cardiff was completed earlier this month…Scenes for the production are being filmed in College Street, St Lawrence in the Square and inside Winchester College. The Daily Echo arrived at the set before filming began yesterday and saw double yellow lines being painted over. A spokesman for Winchester College said: “It is very exciting. Everyone loves it because it is a little bit different and because Winchester is quiet and private, and they to do it without having hordes of people around.”

The story is accompanied by a gallery of photos taken on location, many showing the actors in their period costumes.

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Academic Paper on Waugh at English Studies Conference

A paper entitled “The Reception of Evelyn Waugh in Spain and Romania” will be delivered tomorrow at the annual conference of the European Society for the Study of English (ESSE). The conference is taking place this week at the National University of Ireland in Galway. The paper will be delivered by Christina Zimbroianu from the University of Alcala in the panel entitled “PhD Session: Literatures” at 0830a-1030a on Wednesday, 24 August. Ms Zimbroianu gave an apparently related paper entitled “Waugh’s Satire under Spanish and Romanian Censorship” last November in a conference at the university in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. If any of our readers is at the ESSE conference and in attendance at Ms Zimbroianu's panel, a comment would be appreciated.

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Waugh's Conversion

In an article posted on a Roman Catholic evangelical weblog Aleteia.org, the details of Evelyn Waugh's conversion to that religion are provided, mostly in Waugh's own words from a 20 October 1930 essay in the Daily Express. Waugh had written the essay ("Converted to Rome: Why it Happened to Me") to quell what he deemed misinformation that was circulating about his motivations:

Immediately upon hearing the news, the gossip industry caught fire. How had the “ultramodernist become an ultramontanist”? How could the shocking wit who fathered novels such as Decline and Fall and Vile Bodies fall sway to the stiff and stultifying orthodoxy of the Catholic Church? ...At first, Waugh shrugged off three assertions leveled by his detractors: 1) The Jesuits have got hold of him, 2) He is captivated by the ritual, and 3) He wants to have his mind made up for him.

A long excerpt from Waugh's essay continues the weblog's article. The complete essay, which covered a full page generously provided by the Daily Express, is available in Waugh's Essays, Articles and Reviews, p. 103.

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Waugh Cited in Republican Party Debacle

Political columnist Christian Schneider in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel cites Wavian words of wisdom in connection with the present problems of the Republican Party:

Evelyn Waugh once famously noted that the primary failure of the British Conservative Party is that it had failed to “put the clock back a single second.” American conservatives now, too, are resentful that they can’t hop in Doc Brown’s DeLorean and return to the simpler days of the summer of 2015.  It was an innocent time when debate stages were bereft of candidates discussing their priapic qualifications, before a cable news anchor’s fertility cycle became clickbait, and when mocking disabled reporters was seen as a sign of weakness, not strength. It also was a time of unbridled optimism for conservatives, as 17 people were running for president, many with strong right-wing pedigrees.  The biggest worry Republicans had was trying to escape the ubiquity of that horrifying “Uptown Funk” song.

See earlier post for source of Waugh's quote.

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Metropolitan Papers Continue to Trail D&F Production

The Daily Mail has published more photos from the Welsh location setting of the BBC’s production of Waugh’s novel Decline & Fall. Most of these feature Eva Longoria between takes as Margot Beste-Chetwynde, but there are also several of Jake Whitehall and another unnamed actor in full period kit. In addition there is an assortment of period cars that, according to the story, backed up traffic in central Cardiff where the filming was taking place.

In The Sunday People newspaper, there was further comment about Whitehall’s wardrobe, congratulating the BBC on the actor’s transformation. They describe Whitehall as ”almost unrecognizable”:

The Bad Education star, 28, wore the pinstripe suit and fedora for filmmaking in Cardiff…Jack plays Paul Pennyfeather in the adaptation of Waugh’s novel—a teacher seduced by Eva [Longoria’s] character, Margot, a pupil’s mum.

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Two Waugh Events at Cheltenham Festival

The Cheltenham Literature Festival is featuring two Waugh-related events in October. The first is entitled Evelyn Waugh: Brideshead and Beyond and will involve a panel discussion. Here’s a description:

Philip Eade, author of the new biography Evelyn Waugh: A Life Revisited, Alexander Waugh (Fathers and Sons), writer and grandson of Evelyn Waugh, and James Holland, acclaimed historian and Waugh fan explore Waugh’s life and the enduring popularity of his work with Paula Byrne (Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead).

This event will take place on Wednesday, 12 October at 1130a in The Times Forum at the Montpellier Gardens site.

The second event is entitled Cheltenham Booker: 1945. It also involves a panel who will discuss which novel published in 1945 from the following shortlist should have won the Booker award for that year:

Which 1945 title deserves to win our very own Booker? You decide! Akala, Raffaella Barker, Antonia Byatt, Rachel Johnson and Alexei Sayle discuss George Orwell’s Animal Farm, Elizabeth Smart’s By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept, Elizabeth Taylor’s At Mrs Lippincote’s, Nancy Mitford’s The Pursuit of Love and Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, chaired by James Walton. They fight it out to determine which would have triumphed, had The Man Booker Prize existed in 1945. Introduction by John Coldstream.

The panel will convene on Saturday, 15 October at 1230p in the Town Hall, Baillie Gifford Stage. Tickets for both events are £10 plus transaction fee and go on sale to the public on 7 September.

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Waugh Connections

Times gossip columnist Patrick Kidd discusses Phiip Eade's identification of models for Waugh characters in today's "Diary":

...Lord Parakeet in Decline and Fall was based on Gavin Henderson, an exceedingly camp noble who, on becoming Lord Faringdon, opened a speech in parliament with “my dears” instead of “my lords”. Then there is Lord Beauchamp, model for Lord Marchmain in Brideshead Revisited, who had to flee to France after his homosexual activities were exposed by his brother-in-law, the Duke of Westminster, known as Bendor. 

There is nothing original about these identifications, all of which have been noticed by previous biographers, although Eade may be the first to cite Henderson's campish address to the House of Lords. Kidd fails to note that the Gavin Henderson character was originally called Kevin Saunderson in the first printing but was changed to Lord Parakeet in subsequent editions for fear of libel actions.

Another Decline and Fall character features in the RIBA architectural website's story about its exhibition called "At Home in Britain." One of the exhibits is based on the modernist Isokon flats built in the 1930s in Hampstead:

The Isokon was designed in 1934 by Wells Coates, a Canadian expatriate and early pioneer of Modernism in Britain who provided the inspiration for Evelyn Waugh’s functionalist architect Otto Silenus in 'Decline and Fall'. The 34 flats were designed “with special reference to the circumstances of the bachelor or young married professional or businessperson” and offered a minimal urban existence inspired by Le Corbusier’s 'machine for living'.

The exhibition continues through 29 August, at the RIBA Architecture Gallery, 66 Portland Place W1.

A Waugh architectural association (along with that of George Orwell) is used in another newspaper to help shift some new flats in another of Waugh's North London neighborhoods. This is in the Islington Gazette which refers to Waugh's and Orwell's residences in Canonbury Square:

Orwell’s flat at 27b Canonbury Square, moments away from the new properties, in what was then a very down at heel part of London was described by friends as “bleak”. But it is unlikely that the Animal Farm author, who left London for Scotland in 1947, would recognise either the flat, which sold for just under £900,000 in 2014, or the area now.Canonbury is one of the most sought-after parts of Islington with its grand Georgian architecture and pretty city squares a short stroll from Upper Street...

The [new build] houses will be finished with an eye to luxury in a mode more appealing to that other illustrious literary light of Canonbury Square, who lived at number 17 [sic] during the 1920s...Author Evelyn Waugh lived in Canonbury during his disastrous first marriage in the late 1920s.

According to a letter Waugh wrote from the Canonbury Square flat, its address was No. 17a. Orwell's building is marked by a plaque, Waugh's is not. 

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Panegyric for Waugh in LMS Journal

The Autumn 2016 issue of the journal of the Latin Mass Society contains the text of the panegyric delivered on 8 July 2016 by Archbishop Thomas Gullickson on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Waugh's death. See earlier post. The journal is called Mass of Ages and the entire issue is available online. The Waugh article is entitled "Giving His All for the Mass" and appears on p. 6.

The Archbishop recognizes how "Waugh saw clearly and spoke out, putting himself in harm's way" in his efforts to preserve the Latin Mass. He condoles with Waugh for his "upright and courageous stance" and gives thanks for "the gifts this talented author showered on our world, for so much reading, entertainment and insight into a world which may not always deserve to be mocked but certainly merits a laugh or two more than we may often concede."

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New Criterion Reprints Article on Waugh's African Writings

The New Criterion has reprinted a 2003 article by James Panero about Waugh's writings on Africa, making the point that Waugh got most things right. This is entitled "Reading Africa in Waugh." Panero's family had business in Africa; his grandfather ran a hotel in Somalia from which he was bloodily evicted in the 1970s, barely but thankfully escaping with his life. Panero himself had visited that continent.

The article opens with an excerpt from a letter Waugh wrote to Henry Yorke from Addis Ababa in 1930:

Life here is inconceivable—quite enough to cure anyone of that English feeling that there is something attractive & amusing about disorder. . . . Public castration which is the usual punishment for most infringements of law has been stopped until the departure of the distinguished visitors. I have rarely seen anything so hysterical as the British legation all this last week. . . . I go to very stiff diplomatic parties where I am approached by colonial governors who invariably begin ‘I say Waugh I hope you aren’t going to say anything about that muddle this morning.’

Several quotes from Black Mischief and Scoop make the point that Waugh foresaw the mischief that would befall that area if the colonial powers were driven out. And Waugh also recognized the chaos that would result if  the"tribalism", held in check by colonial administrators, were let loose. This is from a letter he wrote his wife from Tanganyika in 1959:

I spent one day with the Masai. . . They all carry spears & shields & clubs & live in mud bird-nests and are only waiting for the declaration of independence to massacre their neighbours. They had a lovely time during the Mau Mau rising. They were enlisted & told to bring in all the Kikuyus’ arms & back they proudly came with baskets of severed limbs. 

Panero goes on to describe how the political correctness of today's politicians. noting especially Jimmy Carter, has contributed to the problem by denying that it exists. Waugh, on the other hand, wrote about Africa with no such reservations, and Panero finds that refreshing.

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All Converts Together

A recent issue of the National Catholic Register, a Roman Catholic newspaper, journalist Rick Becker writes of his discovery and enjoyment of Mary Frances Coadey's 2015 book  Merton and Waugh: A Monk, A Crusty Old Man, and The Seven Storey Mountain. He was particularly taken with how these two converts to  Roman Catholicism ended up supporting each other's beliefs from their different life perspectives of worldly novelist and Trappist monk. Becker also recounts Waugh's interaction with Dorothy Day, another convert, and notes how, despite her social activism, which made the conservative Waugh uneasy, he ended up supporting her cause with contributions. This relationship is also a subject of Coadey's book.

It is Becker's observation, based in part on Coadey's book, that converts withdraw from their non-Catholic friends, who provide no religious support, and form relationships in a closer knit, exclusively Roman Catholic environment. Yet, that was certainly not the case with Waugh. As Becker recognizes, Waugh did not become a close friend or long-term correspondent with either Merton or Day. But contrary to Becker's theory, Waugh's  regular long-term correspondents, with the exception of Graham Greene, were non-Catholics. These included Nancy Mitford, Ann Fleming, and Diana Cooper. In the most notable case of Waugh's nudging his friends toward conversion, the result was not a happy one. Penelope Betjeman converted and her husband John remained steadfastly Anglican, took up with a mistress and effectively ended their marriage.

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