Quick Delivery of A Little Order

A blogger living in London (blogging as Dickon Edwards) has posted an experience of brick and mortar booksellers becoming more competitive with their online counterparts:

There are many reasons to buy books from bookshops rather than Amazon, but one is that London bookshops are simply better for getting a book in a hurry. Today I find that the little branch of Hatchards in St Pancras can order an unstocked title at 2pm, and have it ready for me to collect by 6. No extra charge, not even a deposit. The volume in question is Evelyn Waugh’s selected essays, A Little Order.

The edition Mr Edwards ordered is the first, which originally appeared as a hardback with 192 pages under this title in 1977. When I asked the editor why a new, expanded edition with 662 pages was issued in 1983 under the different title Essays, Articles and Reviews. Prof Donat Gallagher, who edited both editions, explained in an e-mail how this came about:

I approached A D Peters about publishing some of Waugh’s journalism. He was discouraging, saying that Waugh was little interested in journalism, but allowed me to go ahead. The publishers, Methuen, set the word limit for what became A Little Order and I fitted in what I thought was most representative and best of his work within their limits. This was a period when Waugh’s reputation was at its very lowest point.

Following the very successful publication of the Letters and the Diaries, it was apparent that there was room for a volume of journalism on a comparable scale. Essays, Articles and Reviews set out to be a representative selection, within roughly the same number of pages as Letters and Diaries. A representative selection is different from a selection of what is thought best, although, of course, the best pieces were for the most part included.

The paperback edition has had a different history. Penguin first published Essays, Articles and Reviews under that title in paperback in 1986. That edition had 688 pp. When they reissued the book in 2000 in the Penguin Modern Classics series, they used the first edition and original title for their text. The copy Mr. Edwards bought, entitled A Little Order and comprising 208 pages, is apparently this shorter Penguin Modern Classics edition, which is the only edition still in print.

The next edition is likely to be that of the Complete Works of Evelyn Waugh project will cover 4 volumes of the projected total of 43. Here's their description from their website:

Volumes 26-29: Essays, Articles and Reviews

Edited by Donat Gallagher

Our series of Waugh’s shorter non-fictional works brings together every surviving article and essay from “In Defence of Cubism”, which Waugh wrote aged fourteen, all the way through to his review of Hubert Van Zeller’s autobiography, One Foot in the Cradle, which appeared in the month of Waugh's death. As a writer for hire, a considerable amount of Waugh’s life in letters was devoted to journalism - these 4 volumes provide a detailed picture of the man and his times that complements his fiction and reveals his considered and not-so-considered opinion on the subjects of, to name but a few, marriage, Mussolini, motherhood, censorship and church reform. Waugh’s short travelogue The Holy Places (1952) is also included in this collection, along with the foreword to his compilation of pre-war travel texts, When the Going was Good (1946).

UPDATE (26 September 2016): A revision was made to the original version of the above posting. This is based on an e-mail from Prof Gallagher in which he clarified how an expanded version of the collected journalism grew out of the shorter first edition. The misunderstanding between Prof Gallagher and the publisher mentioned in the original version of the posting referred to the introduction, not the text, of A Little Order.

Posted in Complete Works, Diaries, Essays, Articles & Reviews, Letters, London, The Holy Places, When the Going Was Good | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Estate of Peter Waugh to be Auctioned

An auction house in the West of England has announced the sale of artworks from the estate of the late Peter Waugh (1938-2014). Peter was the third child of Alec Waugh with his second wife Joan Chirnside. Peter's life was profiled in a 2011 article in the Guardian written by Patrick Barkham. In that article Peter discussed some of the difficulties of his childhood. He also recounted his first meeting with his uncle Evelyn: 

When he was nine, Peter was introduced to Evelyn. It is a vivid memory. His uncle sat behind an enormous desk in his library. "Bring him in," Evelyn called, and Peter was ushered into the room by Evelyn's wife, Laura. "Turn him round." Peter was spun round. "Take him away," Evelyn barked. "Can you imagine an uncle saying that to you?" says Peter. "Talk about intimidation."

Peter never married and lived by himself in Berkshire. He worked as a wine trader and teacher of photography.

The auction of his estate will take place at the salesrooms of Busby's in Bridport on 20 October. The sale will consist mostly of artworks from the estate, as described in the Blackmore Vale Magazine:

The collection of screens, rugs, furniture, drawing and paintings are from the estate of Peter Waugh, who lived near Duncan Grant in Berkshire, and was a close friend of his and Paul Roche later in their lives...The collection forms part of the estate, much of which was sold in at Busby's Fine Art sale in March.

Another section of the sale may be of greater interest to Waugh enthusiasts:

In the vintage clothing section of the sale will be clothing and luggage from the estate of Alec Waugh (1898-1981)...Items will include a 1929 Savile Row tailored frock coat.

It is not clear from the context whether the frock coat belonged to Alec. It may be the case that whatever books or writings there may have been were sold earlier or elsewhere. For example a box of poetry books belonging to Alec Waugh and passed down through the family was sold on 7 July 2016 (price estimate £5-10) and a copy of Evelyn Waugh's Wine in Peace and War, on 16 April 2015 (price estimate £10-20 for what looks like a perfect copy). Best to check with the auctioneers if that is the sort of thing you are seeking.


Posted in Alec Waugh, Art, Photography & Sculpture, Auctions, Items for Sale, Waugh Family, Wine in Peace and War | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Waugh, Catch-22 and the Demented Governess

Many of us will have read Waugh's 1961 letter to Nina Bourne, who worked for US publisher Simon & Schuster. In the letter, Waugh politely and very humorously declines to give them a blurb promoting their new book Catch-22, the first novel of Joseph Heller. Waugh offers a blurb but no promotion. (Letters, p. 371-72; quoted below). Robert Gottlieb, editor at Simon & Schuster, provides some back story to the letter in his autobiography, Avid Reader, which has just been published. An excerpt has been released on the publisher's website. Catch-22 was one of Gottlieb's first successful projects at Simon & Schuster. It turns out that Nina Bourne was in the publisher's marketing department and became heavily invested in promoting the book. As described by Gottlieb:

...when the book was ready to be launched, at the meeting to decide the size of our fall-list printings the naysayers came up with the figure of five thousand. This roused the tiger in Nina, whom everyone had always thought of as a genius, yes, but also as an adorable little bunny. Suddenly she stood up, glared around, and spoke: “If after all these years my total belief in a book doesn’t warrant a printing of seventy-five hundred, what’s the point of my being here?” Stunned silence. This was not the Nina people knew and loved. “Of course, Nina!” “Yes, Nina!” “Seventy- five hundred if you think that’s the right number, Nina!” ... In the famous campaign to sell Catch-22 to the world, Nina—more fervent about it than about any other book in her seventy-year career—was the secret, and deadly, weapon.

Nina Bourne's letter to Waugh (which is not reproduced) seems to have been part of what she called her "demented governess" scheme to secure blurbs and support from noted writers:

We had sent out scores of advance copies of the book, accompanied by what Nina called her “demented governess letters”—as in, “the demented governess who believes the baby is her own.”

The reply from Waugh was not what they had hoped for but was one of his funnier letters and quite in the spirit (if not the tone) of Heller's very funny novel. Gottlieb describes the results, in the same spirit:

There were at least a score of letters from notable writers, but, perversely, the one we most enjoyed was from Evelyn Waugh:

"Dear Miss Bourne:

Thank you for sending me Catch-22. I am sorry that the book fascinates you so much. It has many passages quite unsuitable to a lady’s reading. It suffers not only from indelicacy but from prolixity. It should be cut by about a half. In particular the activities of ‘Milo’ should be eliminated or greatly reduced. You are mistaken in calling it a novel. It is a collection of sketches—often repetitive—totally without structure.

Much of the dialogue is funny.

You may quote me as saying: 'This exposure of the corruption, cowardice and incivility of American officers will outrage all friends of your country (such as myself) and greatly comfort your enemies.'

Yours truly, Evelyn Waugh"

We didn’t take him up on his offer, though we probably should have.

In the end, Waugh's indifference didn't matter. They managed to shift 35,000 hardback copies in the first year, followed by millions in paperback thereafter.

Posted in Humo(u)r, Letters, World War II | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Waugh Plaque Used in Property Promotion

A North London property promotion site has made prominent use of a photo of the English Heritage Blue Plaque on Evelyn Waugh's family home (145 North End Road, NW11 7HT). This is Ham & High Properties promotional material for sales in the Golders Green area. The pitch is heavily weighted to the Jewish characteristics and amenities of the neighborhood: 

Home to a thriving Jewish community as well as a large number of South East Asian and Japanese families, Golders Green is the kosher hub of the capital and benefits from a diverse selection of shops and a new crop of Kosher restaurants around the vibrant Golders Green High Street.

It is a bit difficult to see how the inclusion of the Waugh plaque supports that theme, given that he is often associated by his critics (some would argue, unfairly) with antisemtism. The text accompanying the plaque photo does not mention its location or relevance to the promotion. It's quite a good photo, by the way.

In fact, when the Waughs moved in, this was a semi-rural area known as North End and was located in the large Hampstead or London NW postal zone. Shortly after the Waughs' arrival, the Northern Line was extended in 1907 to Golders Green Station (which can be seen from a point across the road from the Waugh house). This was followed by extensive suburbanization. After the new postal zone system was established in 1917, Evelyn Waugh is alleged to have preferred to be associated with Hampstead (NW3) rather than Golders Green (NW11) to the point of walking up the hill to post letters in the NW3 zone. That is inconsistent, however, with his use of "Golders Green NW11" or simply "NW11" on his letters written from the house on North End Road. See, e.g., Letters, pp. 4, 9, passim.

According to Wikipedia, there are a total of 5 other EH Blue Plaques in postal zone NW11, including Robert Donat, actor, Dame Myra Hess, pianist, and Harold Abrahams, athlete, immortalized in the popular 1981 film Chariots of Fire. (They are all included under the Borough of Barnet.) And yet, Waugh's is the one the promoters apparently thought would best enhance property values in the neighborhood. Or were they just having an attempt at irony?

Posted in Hampstead, Letters, Waugh Family | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Waugh and Boredom

The Economist has posted on the website of its 1843 magazine an earlier article by one of its columnists, Adrian Wooldridge, entitled "Great Bores of Yore". One of those discussed is Evelyn Waugh:

Waugh was a great bore-baiter, never happier than when ridiculing bores (the hero of “A Handful of Dust” has to listen to the complete works of Dickens). But all the baiting turned him into something of a bore himself. He adopted the pose of a reactionary country squire, giant ear trumpet and all. If what was being said bored him, he simply removed the trumpet. This stunt too became a bore – which, for Waugh, only added to its appeal.

Others listed include William Gladstone, Kim Il-Sung, and Calvin Coolidge. The entry for Waugh is a bit misleading, however.  While it is true he might enjoy boring those he himself found to be bores, in his later years he was appalled to learn that he had bored people he was trying to amuse. Indeed, when he learned that he had bored some English diplomats on a trip to the West Indies in 1961-62, he went into a state of depression (or lack of self-esteem) from which he seems never to have fully recovered (Stannard: Later Years, pp. 455-56).

Posted in A Handful of Dust, Articles, Newspapers | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Waugh, the Spokesman for Conservatism

William Voegeli, a visiting scholar at Claremont College, in an essay entitled "Liberalism and Civilization" published in The Blue Review takes Waugh as his spokesman for the conservative cause. The Blue Review is a peer-reviewed blog intended to promote the public interest and sponsored by Boise State University. Vogeli uses Waugh's "philosophy" as a counter to that of John Stuart Mill whom he sets up as the source of liberalism's principles. Waugh's views are quoted from his "Conservative Manifesto" which was stated in his 1939 book Robbery Under Law and is excerpted and reprinted in Essays, Articles and Reviews. In addition, Voegeli quotes Waugh's 1964 review ("The Light that Did Not Wholly Fail") of two books about Rudyard Kipling, also reprinted in EAR, in which Waugh expressed his admiration for Kipling's then unpopular political views:

The beliefs Waugh discerned in Kipling were ones he had expressed in his own voice 25 years previously. “I believe,” he wrote in his “Conservative Manifesto,” “that the anarchic elements in society are so strong that it is a whole-time task to keep the peace.” He was profoundly skeptical of the idea that the airport walkway that took us from barbarism to civilization will simply keep going forward forever, either because it cannot be stopped or reversed, or because no one would wish to. To the contrary, “Civilization has no force of its own beyond what is given it from within. It is under constant assault and it takes most of the energies of civilized man to keep going at all.” By the same token, “Barbarism is never finally defeated; given propitious circumstances, men and women who seem quite orderly will commit every conceivable atrocity.” Thus, without “unremitting effort,” [Waugh] wrote, we risk “the dissolution … of the spiritual and material achievements of our history.”

After trolling through more recent political writings on the subject, Voegeli concludes [Spoiler Alert!] that Waugh's side wins the argument.

Posted in Academia, Articles, Essays, Articles & Reviews, Robbery Under Law | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Waugh in China

Yesterday's notice on new publications of Waugh's books in Japanese translations made your correspondent wonder whether Waugh may be enjoying similar availability in other Asian languages. Chinese is easy enough to check because there is an Amazon.cn site selling books. From that, the following list of Waugh translations currently available in Chinese was assembled (listed in order of date of publication) :

A Little Learning, Shanghai Translation Publishing House (STPH), 1 January 2013

Decline and Fall, STPH, 1 April 2013

Black Mischief, STPH, 1 December 2013

Vile Bodies, STPH, 1 January 2014

The Loved One, STPH, 1 June 2014

A Handful of Dust, Capital Normal University Press, 1 April 2015

The books published by STPH can be seen here on Amazon.cn. The identity of the translator is usually revealed somewhere in the listing. You will need to copy texts into Google Translate for English versions of the descriptive materials. Some of these books may be available on Amazon.com.

There is at least one book translated into Korean: A Handful of Dust, Minumsa Publishing Group, 10 April 2016. That is available from Amazon.com. 


Posted in A Handful of Dust, A Little Learning, Bibliophilia, Black Mischief, Decline and Fall, The Loved One, Vile Bodies | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Waugh in Japan

Waugh's novel Scoop as well as a collection of his short stories have been translated into Japanese and were recently published in connection with this year's 50th anniversary of Waugh's death. The translator is Tagaki Susumu and the books are published by Hakusuisha. According to Waugh Society member Yoshiharu Usui, the Scoop translation was reviewed by Dr. Taichi Koyama of Sanshu University in the popular weekly magazine Shukan Bunshun. Here is Yoshiharu's translation of an excerpt from that review:

...Scoop is that rare thing,  a well-made comedy without a shadow. No characters are hurt. The plot falls into place. The slapstick is in balance: all’s right with the world. The scene in which the foreign editor visits the Boots’ country house and is annoyed by strange elderly people slightly shows Waugh’s viciousness. But the viciousness is just a modest spice.

Several other works of Waugh have been translated into Japanese, beginning with Handful of Dust in 1954 which was published in Japan under the title Mrs Last. Others include Brideshead Revisited, The Loved One and The Ordeal of Gilbert PinfoldAll of these books are available from Amazon.jp at the links provided above. Thanks to Yoshiharu Usui for his help in preparing this notice.  

Posted in A Handful of Dust, Anniversaries, Bibliophilia, Brideshead Revisited, Scoop, Short Stories, The Loved One, The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold | Tagged | Leave a comment

David Bradshaw (1955-2016) R.I.P.

The death has been announced of Professor David Bradshaw of Worcester College, University of Oxford. He was Professor of English Literature and author of The Hidden Huxley (1994). He edited and wrote the introduction to several novels, including the Penguin Modern Classics 2001 edition of Waugh's first novel Decline and Fall. Professor Bradshaw was also Co-Investigator with Professor Martin Stannard of the Complete Works of Evelyn Waugh project at University of Leicester. Memoirs by other members of the CWEW project may be seen at this link

Posted in Academia, Complete Works, Decline and Fall, Oxford | Tagged | Leave a comment

Waugh in Oxford News

Waugh figures in an article in the newspaper Catholic World Report written by a Roman Catholic Rhodes Scholar about her recent experiences as a student in Oxford. She mentions numerous Roman Catholic churches still active in Oxford outside the university but also describes several with university connections in addition to Campion Hall where Waugh was a benefactor. These include Blackfriars, which seems to be nearly a College, and Newman House which she describes as: 

For those who prefer less liturgical formality and more young people... which I found remarkably similar to the Catholic Center at Harvard. Unlike Harvard, however, the Newman Center is also a residence (the antique part of which is the “Old Palace,” referenced in Brideshead Revisited) for students and the (Jesuit) chaplains.

Waugh also wrote extensively about the Old Palace in The Life of Right Reverend Ronald Knox. This was where Knox lived when he was Roman Catholic Chaplain at Oxford. The author of the article is rather standoffish about nearby Campion Hall where she found the Jesuits' attitude toward women rather off-putting.

She found Catholic life less flourishing at Cambridge on her visits there but upon reflection concluded:

In the most general terms, Cambridge excels in the sciences, and Oxford in humanities. Still, it seems somewhat miraculous that great minds, and especially authors, of the twentieth century would be concentrated at Oxford: J.R.R. Tolkein, John Henry Newman, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, C.S. Lewis (okay, so the last one is wishful thinking…). On the other hand, it is not surprising that a university town in England would produce such riches. In Brideshead Revisited, the agnostic protagonist, Charles Ryder, says that Catholics “seem just like other people,” to which the Catholic Sebastian Flyte responds, “My dear Charles, that’s exactly what they’re not—particularly in this country, where they’re so few.”

Another long-standing Oxford institution associated with Waugh is not, however, flourishing. This is his shoemaker Ducker and Sons at 6 The Turl. According to a blogger, who is also a customer, they are abut to close down:

Clients of Ducker & Son since they opened in 1898 have included: The Baron Manfred von Richthofen, J.R.R. Tolkien, Evelyn Waugh, the Bowes-Lyon family, an entire clutch of Indian Maharajahs and more recently, Rowan Atkinson & Eddie Jordan to mention but a few. John Le Carré wrote Ducker & Son into his novel “The Tailor of Panama” (and gave the firm one or two other mentions elsewhere I think but memory is hazy)...And now Ducker & Son, 6 The Turl, Oxford, is closing. It is time for the current proprietor to retire and there is no one willing or able to carry on the business.

Waugh's orders and fittings are probably still carried on the books which will be archived at the Bodleian Library. Whether his custom-made lasts survive in the basement storage room and what will become of them isn't explained.

Posted in Articles, Brideshead Revisited, Catholicism, Chattels & Movables, Newspapers, Oxford, Ronald Knox | Tagged , , | Leave a comment