Waugh’s Helena at the Museum of the Bible

A new institution has opened in Washington, DC. This is the Museum of the Bible. It is spread over eight floors of a purpose built structure and is reviewed in the the conservative journal Washington Free Beacon by Micah Meadowcraft. In discussing the museum’s foundation, Meadowcraft makes reference to Evelyn Waugh:

In his short novel Helena, Evelyn Waugh recounts the mother of Constantine’s decision to become the patroness of Jerusalem’s pilgrim sites. Helena concluded, quite logically, that if Christianity makes historical claims there should be historical evidence, and with it, objects and associated locations convenient for and demanding the building of churches. And if she has the money to pay for building them then they ought be built. Though aiming to be nonsectarian (BCE and CE, not BC and anno Domini), the Museum of the Bible is an endeavor in a similar vein by Hobby Lobby president and museum chairman Steve Green and friends. The Bible is the most important—the banal might say best-selling—book of all time; there is evidence and detritus of how it came to be and where it has been, of what it has done and where it is going; there is money, clearly Solomonic amounts of money, to be spent. Spend it they have, to the tune of more than $500 million, and built it, and it is extraordinary.

A New Zealand news website has posted a review of Waugh’s novel The Loved One. This is by Rachel Pope on Stuff.co.nz which is owned by Australian newspaper chain Fairfax Media and publishes three major papers in New Zealand. She recommends the book and opens with this:

This novel is classic Waugh, in that it is sharp, cutting, incisive, sarcastic and spares no one. He is described as one of the best satirists of his day and was widely known for his sardonic wit. Some of the one-liners in this book are truly shocking and I would read it for this alone. For example, conversing with an American, it is noted that one is not required to actually listen to what is being said. Another: an American asked what Hogmanay was and the answer was “Glaswegians being sick in the street.”

Meanwhile, in Australia, the stage production of Brideshead Revisited by Adelaide’s Independent Theatre Company opened this weekend with a favorable review on the website GlamAdelaide.com. The review concludes:

Independent Theatre create something very special here. Their Brideshead Revisited stays faithful to the themes of the original novel, while artfully employing the dry humour of the British upper classes – delivering an enjoyable and unforgettable performance.

Finally, on the occasion of the commemoration of this year’s  World Toilet Day (19 November), the Irish Times includes this reference to Evelyn Waugh:

Then there are those who were dying to go – famous people who departed while on the toilet…Evelyn Waugh collapsed on the commode in 1966 after coming home from a Latin mass and died. Although there were drowning rumours (perpetuated by Graham Greene), his official cause of death was heart failure.

Others in this category were Elvis Pressley, Judy Garland and King George II. The story is by Deirdre Falvey and is entitled “Urine for a treat.”

UPDATE (20 November 2017): An article in today’s Guardian takes up the subject in the above-cited Irish Times article. This is by Michele Hanson in her health column and relates to the need to be willing to talk about constipation:

“Do not strain at stools,” [the] heart-failure-clinic nurse warned …, or you might peg out, like George II, Elvis and (probably) Evelyn Waugh, from fatal heart arrhythmia. We can mention breastfeeding and period stains out loud without shame. Now let’s, please, add constipation. Because the older you get, the more likely you are to have it. So chill out and loosen up. At least at the top end.

Posted in Adaptations, Brideshead Revisited, Helena, Newspapers, The Loved One, Theater | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bridey and the Chapel

A posting on the Roman Catholic religious weblog Aleteia takes as its theme the passage containing the discussion between Charles Ryder and Lord Brideshead (“Bridey”) in Brideshead Revisited about the artistic value of the decorations in the family’s chapel. This is entitled “Truth, Relativism and Brideshead Revisited” and is written by Tod Worner, who frequently comments on Waugh’s works.  See previous posts. These decorations had earlier been described by Sebastian as “a monument of art nouveau” and that is followed by Charles’ own detailed description of the wall paintings, carvings and metal work as examples of the “arts and crafts movement of the last decade of the nineteenth century” (Brideshead Revisited, London, 1945, pp. 35-36). In a later scene, after Charles’ talent as an artist has been revealed to the family, Bridey starts the following conversation, quoted in the Aleteia post (bracketed language is from the posting):

Instantly enchanted by the sublime artistry and soaring architecture of Brideshead, Charles found himself engaged in a discussion on the nature of the estate’s chapel with Sebastian’s elder brother, Bridey. Bridey inquired:

“You are an artist, Ryder, what do you think of it aesthetically?”
“I think it’s beautiful,” said [Sebastian’s youngest sister] Cordelia with tears in her eyes.
“Is it Good Art?”
“Well, I don’t quite know what you mean,” [Charles] said warily. “I think it’s a remarkable example of its period. Probably in eighty years it will be greatly admired.”
“But surely it can’t be good twenty years ago and good in eighty years, and not good now?” [asked Bridey]
“Well, it may be good now.” [Charles answered.] “All I mean is that I don’t happen to like it much.”
“But is there a difference between liking a thing and thinking it good?”

Worner then continues with a discussion of the religious significance of Bridey’s question. This is thoughtful and well argued from a religious point of view but takes the discussion in the novel somewhat out of its context, since Bridey was not asking about what Charles thought of the religious significance of the decorations but rather his expert advice as to their artistic merit. Indeed, the quote stops just short of Sebastian’s response to Bridey’s question: “Bridey, don’t be so Jesuitical” (p. 83). Ironically, one might use the same term to describe the discussion that follows the quote in the weblog.

Another religious blogger (this one Protestant: One-Eternal-Day.com) has posted the conclusion to Waugh’s story Scott-King’s Modern Europe, including a copy of the US edition’s dustwrapper, with the explanation that it is reposted “because it is ‘very wicked indeed’ to deprive the young of historical perspective.”

Finally, a recent issue of the Catholic Herald contains an article entitled “Meeting the Evelyn Waugh of Wall Street”. This is written by William Cash and is based on an interview of novelist Tom Wolfe that Cash had conducted in the 1990s. The article is behind a paywall, but the epithet in the title apparently applies to Wolfe.

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Joan Didion Reviews Sword of Honour

In an article posted on the website Acculturated, Nic Rowan discusses novelist and essayist Joan Didion’s early career of reviewing books for the National Review in the 1960s. Rowan claims that her later career cannot be fully understood without considering these early and formative writings:

…By writing semi-weekly book reviews of the year’s hot literature for the nation’s only major conservative magazine, Didion made sense of the world in which she lived through its literature and its movies.Unfortunately, none of these essays are collected in a compendium or available online, so you’ll have to hunt through old print editions of the magazine to find them…

In a review of Evelyn Waugh’s The Sword of Honor trilogy, Didion reveals what she means when she calls someone a writer. For although a fictional account of Guy Crouchback, a middle-aged English aristocrat fighting in World War II, Didion calls The Sword of Honor a true story, because it follows a man who “attempts to make a social cause a moral cause in a society bereft of moral meaning.”

In many ways, Crouchback and Didion are attempting the same thing, except Didion is an American. In the same review, Didion wrote that the American story—the one she would go on to tell in her many essays—is a delicate tragedy: “Every real American story begins in innocence and never stops mourning the loss of it,” she wrote. “The banishment from Eden is our one great tale, lovingly told and retold, adapted, disguised and told again, passed down from Hester Prynne to Temple Drake, from Natty Bumppo to Holden Caulfield; it is the single stunning fact in our literature, in our folklore, in our history, and in the lyrics of of popular songs.”

For Didion, things are always falling apart. The center will never hold.

Didion’s review was entitled “Evelyn Waugh: A Gentleman in Battle” and appeared in the National Review dated 27 March 1962. She was reviewing the final volume of the war trilogy, entitled The End of the Battle in the USA, but was discussing all three volumes. In her review she referred to the trilogy as “Men at War.” That is the title mentioned on the front flap of the US edition’s dust jacket. The publishers were apparently unaware of Waugh’s intended title for the one-volume edition of the war trilogy. That single volume recension entitled Sword of Honour appeared in 1965 (USA, 1966). Didion’s review is, in fact, available in the National Review’s digital archive and may be read in full at this link.

Posted in Evelyn Waugh, Men at Arms, Newspapers, Sword of Honour, Unconditional Surrender/The End of the Battle, World War II | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Waughs in Spectator Books of the Year

The Spectator is publishing its annual list of Books of the Year selected by various writers. Among the choices in this week’s column is this one by journalist Lewis Jones, who writes for both the Spectator and the Telegraph:

I notice belatedly that the ‘scholar’ Alexander Waugh has published a ‘book’, [that is] counter-factual. Shakespeare in Court (Kindle Single, sensibly priced at £0.00) argues that Shakespeare’s works must have been written by a proper toff, and not only one whose verses C.S. Lewis thought showed ‘faint talent’, but also one who rather inconveniently died before the composition of Othello, King LearMacbeth etc. It seems to me that Alexander is barking up the wrong tree. Since at least 2014 it has been obvious to a growing number of snobbishly ignorant but determined conspiracy theorists that his grandfather Evelyn, who came from Golders Green, went to a minor public school and scraped a Third at Hertford, could not possibly have written Brideshead Revisited. Their favoured candidate is Nancy Mitford, whose mortal remains, they believe, were secretly stuffed and mounted at the Church of St Peter & St Paul, Combe Florey.

Jones’ other choice (also selected by novelist Susan Hill) is Craig Brown’s cod biography of Princess Margaret, Ma’am Darling.

Posted in Alexander Waugh, Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh, Humo(u)r, Newspapers | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Evelyn Waugh, Essayist

A Spanish language website has reposted a 2011 article from the Guardian’s “Top 10” series in which journalist Harry Mount, now editor of The Oldie, lists his favorite essays. He begins by defining the term:

There’s not much point in trying to define an essay. Its parameters are so broad and slack that they encompass practically any shortish passage of non-fiction which makes a general argument. As a rough rule of thumb, I’d say anything that creeps over 40,000 words is entering book territory; and anything too autobiographical strays into memoir. But, still, you could write 50,000 words about yourself, and it could be an essay in every regard.

Among the 10 examples he selects is Evelyn Waugh’s “A Call to the Orders”:

Evelyn Waugh considered life as a printer, cabinet-maker and carpenter before becoming a novelist. He maintained an interest in the visual arts throughout his life; this plea in defence of the classical orders of architecture appeared some time after his literary success began. The essay is full of angry argument, deep architectural knowledge and lyrical description. “The baroque has never had a place in England; its brief fashion was of short duration; it has been relegated to the holidays – a memory of the happy days in sunglasses, washing away the dust of the southern roads with heady southern wines.” You don’t have to agree with the argument to be compelled by it – a rare thing in an essay.

The essay appeared in a 1938 issue of Country Life, after having been rejected by Harper’s Bazaar. It is collected in A Little Order (p. 60) and Essays, Articles and Reviews. Among the other essays selected by Mount are George Orwell’s “Why I Write” and Isaiah Berlin’s “The Hedgehog and the Fox”, as well as Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal”. Waugh also wrote an essay with Swift’s title taken as his subtitle for “What to do with the Upper Classes”. That appeared in Town and Country for September 1946.

Another member of the Waugh family may be branching into essay writing. Evelyn’s grand  daughter Daisy Waugh has written what is more an essay or op ed piece (which may come to much the same thing) than it is a news article. This is entitled “Unpopular Opinions” and appears in the online newspaper iNews. It addresses issues of political correctness that were favorite targets of both her grand father and her father (Auberon).

UPDATE: The last paragraph was added after posting those preceding it. Thanks to David Lull for sending this along.

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Waugh’s Watering Holes in the News

Several of Waugh’s pre-war venues have been in the papers recently. The Abingdon Arms in Beckley (near Oxford) was frequently visited by Waugh in his student days and thereafter, sometimes accompanied by his friend Alastair Graham. He wrote some of his early works while staying there (Letters, pp. 36-37). According to an article by Katherine MacAlister in the Oxford Mail:

Evelyn Waugh famously drowned his sorrows at the pub on hearing that he’d got a third in his Oxford finals and the view from the pub across the chequered fields inspired Lewis Carroll’s giant chessboard in Alice through the Looking Glass.

The pub had fallen on hard times in recent years and ran through several unsuccessful managers. As reported in an earlier post, it was ultimately taken over by a consortium of locals who refurnished it and found a new manager. The results as reported by MacAlister seem to have been successful:

The pub has been run by brother and sister Aimee and Tom Bronock since May, who have since refurbed and restyled the business and its menu, so we popped down for dinner to find out how they are getting on. It’s a much more serene and simple set up, a tad too quiet if anything, lacking that addictive hustle and bustle of yesteryear, but it was busy none-the-less. The menu followed suit – soup, fishcakes, charcuterie, pigeon or a tomato plate – countrified, seasonal and devoid of frills.

There follows a fairly detailed description of the new menu which sounds like it would be worth a trip if you’re nearby.

Another recently renewed venue reported as having been visited by Waugh is the Lygon Arms Hotel in Broadway, Worcs. This had also suffered an extended period of decay. As reported by Fiona Duncan in the Daily Telegraph:

…those dark days are now over and Broadway can once more be proud of its historic coaching inn where both Charles I and Oliver Cromwell dallied during the Civil War and whose former guests also include Edward VII, Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Evelyn Waugh and Prince Philip. The rot set in when it was sold by the Savoy Group in 2003; since then it has changed hands no less than six times, but two years ago it joined Chewton Glen and Cliveden House in the stable of Iconic Luxury Hotels, owned by the billionaire Livingstone brothers and run by hotelier Andrew Stembridge. A multi-million pound programme of refurbishment and redecoration is now complete.

Evelyn Waugh’s association with this hotel seems somewhat doubtful, however. This may have been based upon his close connection with the Lygon family who lived at Madresfield Court, Worcs., during the early 1930s, but when he visited them he stayed in the County Hotel in Malvern, which was much closer to their house (Letters, pp. 56-57), or in their house itself. That family’s connection to the hotel in Broadway (if any) is tenuous, and how it came to bear their name is not explained in the history posted on the internet. There is another hotel of the same name in Chipping Campden, Gloucs., which explains its name through its acquisition in the 19th c. by a retired butler who had worked for a member of the family.

Finally, one of Waugh’s London clubs (The Savile) recently made the news by allowing one of its members to retain his membership after he decided to undergo a sex change. As explained to the Sunday Telegraph by one of the other members, Jerry Hayes, a former MP and practising barrister:

“He’s not joining as a woman, he joined as a man. It would be unfair to a terrifically friendly guy to expel him just because he’s become a woman. That was never considered…This is not at all setting a precedent for who can become a member because this individual applied to join as a man…”


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Brideshead Revisionism

A collection of the essays and reviews of the late A A Gill has just been published and is reviewed as the Book of the Week in The Sunday Times. The collection includes his restaurant and TV reviews as well as essays on travel and life. The publisher is Weidenfeld and Nicolson and the rather unimaginative title is The Best of A A Gill. Among the collected TV writings is a review of the Granada TV series Brideshead Revisited when it was rerun in 1998.  Gill begins by remembering that when he first watched the series it was “one of those dead-Kennedy moments.” As time went on, the series became one of the “twin totems of television drama”, sharing the title with Jewel in the Crown, another Granada production.

But, for Gill at least, while Jewel has continued to shine, Brideshead had become “utterly, risibly naff, so arch and mannered, so stuffed with appalling performances, with a script that needed an intravenous dose of syrup of figs or just a bullet.” The first problem was that Gill now noticed that the story was “howlingly, retentively, fumblingly, Dorothy-friendly homoerotic…I just wanted to chuck a tapestry scatter cushion at the screen and bellow: ‘For Christ’s sake, snog him and save us having to sit through another umpteenth episode.'” The acting was “utter dross” with the exception of Nicholas Grace as Anthony Blanche and John Gielgud as Charles Ryder’s father. When he wonders why he and his generation fell for the series the first time round, he attributes it partially to expert camerawork and to music that was “potent in a Noel Cowardish cheap way.” But mainly he

puts it down to mass-hysterical avarice. Brideshead wasn’t redolent of the 1920s, it was the zeitgeist of the 1980s. We were all going for the burn, feeling the pain, filling our Filofaxes…so that eventually we could aspire to this ghastly, snobbish, cultureless, tipsy, ivy-clad repressed nirvana without a working class, all claret and cufflinks and cardies and a nanny in every attic…Today, Brideshead looks disturbingly like syrup coloured perspiring dreams.”

Another new book is by novelist Jonathan Coe and is entitled The Broken Mirror. This is not a novel, however, but an 81-page “fable” with illustrations. The review in The Arts Desk.com by Matthew Wright opens with this:

Novelist Jonathan Coe has, for some time, been assuming the role of an Evelyn Waugh of the left. Brilliant early comedies about education, journalism, and power have made way for longer, deeper, but arguably somewhat lugubrious, almost mystical investigations into lost, neglected people and places. With The Broken Mirror, Coe revisits many of these themes, but in the form of a tiny, poignant, crystalline fable.

The review discusses the early books such as What a Carve Up and The Rotters’ Club which are compared to early Waugh satires, but Coe’s later works, a few of which are mentioned, hardly bear comparison with Waugh’s better late fiction such as The Loved One, Sword of Honour or Pinfold. The reviewer seems to hope for a satircal revival in Coe’s future output.

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Waugh and Powell in the Spectator

The Spectator has posted a podcast in which Hilary Spurling, author of the recent biography of Anthony Powell, discusses the book with Sam Leith, the Spectator’s literary editor. Near the end of the interview Spurling is comparing the lives and careers of Matisse (also subject of a biography written by her) and Picasso. She described them as  the two greatest artists of their age, but thought Picasso was the more successful in promoting himself and had the reputation of having lived a more exciting and eventful life. They each shared the good luck to be a friend and influence of the other and each inspired the other to jump higher. Leith then interjected and suggested that you could say the same thing about Powell (=Matisse) and Waugh (=Picasso) to which Spurling agreed, adding that Waugh was best at satirizing people but Powell was more interested in understanding them. In the Spectator’s print edition, Mark Amory, editor of Waugh’s letters, selected Spurling’s biography of Powell as his book of the year.

The Swedish paper Expressen has an article by Johan Hakelius in which he discusses the 1980 South African movie The Gods Must be Crazy. The storyline has a primitive Botswana bushman find an unbroken but empty Coke bottle that was thrown from a plane into the desert. When he returns it to his tribe, they conclude that it must be a gift from the gods. Hakelius compares this to the story Waugh tells in Remote People (Penguin, 2011, p. 93) in which he visits the monastery of Debra Lebanos in a remote region of Abyssinia.

There he is shown to their world-famous library. It consists of five or six piles of documents, and a couple of sacred images that are treated with great reverence. Waugh notes that the images were cut outs from a mass-produced German religious almanac dating back to the 19th century.

Hakelius is applying these two events to a recent news story in Sweden but greater knowledge of the background is needed to make sense of that. Translation is by Google with minor edits.

Finally, the Daily Mail has published an excerpt from a new book written by Christopher Matthew (The Old Man and the Knee: How to be a Golden Oldie) in which, as part of Matthew’s attempt to confront his aging, he considers a hearing aid may be needed for him or his wife. This causes him to recall Evelyn Waugh:

…all couples who have been together for a long time have silly arguments about the most trivial things, usually because one or other of them is going deaf and gets the wrong end of the stick. And while I’ll admit I sometimes can’t hear everything that actors, especially American ones, say on television (for which I blame them — sloppy delivery), so far I have not felt the need for artificial help. Should that need ever arise, today’s hearing aids are so discreet as to be almost invisible. Few want to flaunt their disability but one who made no bones about his deafness, and even deployed it as a social weapon, was Evelyn Waugh.

Although only 62 when he died, he acquired two large ear trumpets. One, in tortoiseshell, was a gift from the Duchess of Devonshire, which one could attach to one’s head, thus allowing one to eat and drink. Waugh’s cousin, the communist writer Claud Cockburn, described how Evelyn used this to withering effect at a Foyle’s Literary Luncheon, at which moralising intellectual Malcolm Muggeridge was the main speaker. Within a minute of the unfortunate victim rising to his feet, Waugh had unscrewed the trumpet from his head, placed it on the table in front of him and sat gazing intently at his plate.


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Simon Schama’s Guilty Pleasure

Historian, author and TV presenter Prof Simon Schama is interviewed by The Book Report column of the Toronto Globe and Mail. After identifying Tolstoy’s War and Peace as the book he has most reread (not too surprising for a historian), he was asked what book was his guilty pleasure. Here is his answer:

Is there a book you consider a guilty pleasure?

Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop. “Feather-footed through the plashy fen passes the questing vole” – the line sings to me as I pass the Waugh shelf in my library – just one more hoot with Boot. Stupendously politically incorrect and generally outrageous, so all the more delicious on yet another reading. But there isn’t much Waugh I don’t love. Brideshead is a bit mushy, though has one of his great openings. But it was his endings which were startlingly brilliant, the place where he was most brilliant: the eye-poke ending of Vile Bodies; and the most terrifying of all in A Handful of Dust; so terrifying, in fact, that Waugh’s American publisher demanded a different and less merciless conclusion, whereupon Waugh produced something ostensibly kinder but in fact a conclusion of ashen cynicism. Two endings, in bleakness competition – that’s what I call a writer.

The alternate ending for the serial of A Handful of Dust was required due to copyright reasons for its appearance in  Harper’s Bazaar in the USA . The exclusive rights to US magazine publication had already been granted to another magazine (Cosmopolitan) for the story “The Man Who Liked Dickens” that Waugh had incorporated as the ending to his novel. Harper’s retitled its US serial version of the novel “A Flat in London.”

Another bit of Waugh-related name confusion is reported by Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian in a story headed “Bear’s Head Revisited”:

Devotees of Evelyn Waugh all over the world have been pained to see photographs circulating online of a new display at the University of Oxford shop in the high street – the officially sanctioned purveyor of Oxford-related gifts and souvenirs to the discerning tourist. There is a sweet teddy bear in the window with a dark blue ribbon and the university crest on the sole of one of his adorable teddy feet. The sign says: “Introducing Sebastian.” If this is a reference to Evelyn Waugh’s novel Brideshead Revisited, then the teddy should be called Aloysius. Sebastian is the name of its owner, Sebastian Flyte. …

Finally, Peter Hitchins writing in the religious journal First Things considers Oxford as a  setting for books. This is on the occasion of a new book by Philip Pullman set in that city:

…Here is Thomas Hardy’s unhappy Jude Fawley, turned away from the world of learning by insolent snobbery. Here are Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat, soaked, dispirited, exhausted and anxious to get back to the modern joys of London. Here is Max Beerbohm’s dangerously beautiful Zuleika Dobson, causing beads of horrified sweat to form on the foreheads of the stone Emperors in Broad Street as she passes, for they know the doom she brings. Here is Evelyn Waugh’s Charles Ryder, looking for the low door in the wall which will take him to Alice’s enchanted garden, or something like it . . . and here is Alice herself.


Posted in A Handful of Dust, Academia, Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh, Newspapers, Oxford, Scoop | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Waugh: Letter Writing, Divorce Reform, and Wadham College

The nondenominational religious journal First Things has an article about what is seen as the dying art of letter writing. This is written by R E Colombini and entitled “So Long, Age of Letters”. He uses as a case study of what is lost in the current age of digital communication the correspondence between Evelyn Waugh and Thomas Merton. He finds this described in the recent book by Mary Francis Coady Merton & Waugh:

In Merton & Waugh, Coady mentions that Merton wrote thirteen letters to Waugh, and Waugh only seven to the monk. Waugh’s were all handwritten, as one would expect; but after writing his first in longhand, Merton resorted to a typewriter. As Waugh saw in Merton’s book drafts, the monk with the vow of silence was downright garrulous on paper. Coady notes that Merton himself acknowledged “that long-windedness tended to be a literary fault of silent Trappists who found themselves tapping the keys of a typewriter.” Waugh provides some good advice to Merton in a 1949 letter, the one included in Amory’s collection. “You scatter a lot of missiles all around the target instead of concentrating on a single direct hit,” he writes. “It is not art. Your monastery tailor and boot-maker would not waste material. Words are our materials.”

Colombini sees a future in which this sort of thoughtful communication and its record may be lost.

A legal scholar meanwhile has used Waugh’s writings on impact of divorce law in the 1930s as case study of the need for reform. Here’s the abstract of Henry Kha’s article in the journal Law and Literature:

The article examines the way Evelyn Waugh’s A Handful of Dust (1934) and A. P. Herbert’s Holy Deadlock (1934) express popular dissent against the divorce laws of England in the 1930s. These novels satirized the legal process of obtaining a divorce as farcical and tainted by parties colluding to stage “hotel divorces” in order to satisfy the single-fault ground of adultery. This article argues that these novels helped to articulate widespread opposition towards the Matrimonial Causes Act 1857, which only allowed divorce to be granted for adultery alone. The writings also spurred parliamentary debate and ultimately paved the way forward for the introduction of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1937. Herbert played a unique part in the campaign for divorce law reform. Both as a novelist and as a parliamentarian, Herbert composed legal satires and successfully introduced the Divorce Bill into the British Parliament respectively.

Finally, the obituary appears in The Times of the former student at Wadham College who became the subject of a well-known Waugh anecdote. This is journalist Robin Esser (1935-2017), former editor of the Sunday Express. As described in The Times:

Esser played hockey for Wadham, recalling how returning late from one match landed him an early Fleet Street story. Finding himself locked out, Esser climbed over the wall into the garden of Sir Maurice Bowra, the warden, who was taking a stroll. He was summoned the next morning to account for himself, but when he arrived at Bowra’s office “a rather agitated man in a tweed suit came up” complaining that he had been refused permission to view a painting at Keble College. The man was Evelyn Waugh and Bowra, having forgotten Esser’s indiscretion, instructed him to entertain Waugh with a glass of wine while he finished a telephone call. It turned into several glasses. “The next morning, with a slight hangover, I related the whole occasion to the William Hickey column in the Daily Express,” he said.

According to the report of the incident in Maurice Bowra’s biography (pp. 250-51), it was Waugh, not Bowra, “who demanded [Esser’s] company while the Warden dealt with an emergency.” The source cited by Bowra’s biographer, Leslie Mitchell, was the Wadham Gazette rather than the Daily Express. The Wadham Gazette quotes the student (unnamed in Mitchell’s version):

“I never did get the telling off the Warden intended to give me. I did get a three and a half hour lunch in the company of one of the greatest wits in the university and one of our most brilliant authors. Now that is what I call luck.”

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