Princeton Salutatorian Wrote Thesis on Waugh

Princeton University's salutatorian this year is Esther Kim. She will deliver a Latin oration at next week's graduation ceremony. According to a Princeton press release, she is an English major and wrote her senior thesis on a topic that included Evelyn Waugh's novel A Handful of Dust:

While in London [in her junior year], Kim ... took the "Junior Seminar in Critical Writing" with Maria di Battista, the Charles Barnwell Straut Class of 1923 Professor of English and professor of English and comparative literature...The seminar introduced Kim to modernist literature and led to her senior thesis topic, which focuses on faith and the fantastic in three 20th-century novels: G.K. Chesterton's "The Man Who Was Thursday," Evelyn Waugh's "A Handful of Dust" and Graham Greene's "The Power and the Glory." Di Battista noted Kim's "quick but never showy critical intelligence, [and] a shrewd understanding of how poems and narratives work and what they can teach us, particularly about the spiritual life."

The press release does not indicate whether access to Kim's thesis is available in an online archive. Anyone reading this who may have information about such access is invited to comment as provided below.

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Vogue Reprints 1928 Waugh Article

As part of the 100th anniversary celebration of its British edition, Vogue has posted on the internet an October 1928 article by Evelyn Waugh ("Turning Over New Leaves"). This article includes reviews of several books issued in the publishers' Fall lists for 1928. Among them are books by D H Lawrence, Norman Douglas and Bertrand Russell.  This was his first article for Vogue, and was followed by a similar collection of reviews about a year later. See earlier post. The complete article has been reprinted in facsimile format from the original pages and the portion relating to Lawrence's poems is available in a separate html text. The article is also reprinted in Essays, Articles and Reviews.

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Waugh on Champagne in WSJ

Evelyn Waugh's advice on when to drink champagne is offered again in a Wall Street Journal article on the subject. As noted in an earlier post, this comes from an article he wrote for Vogue magazine near the end of his life and was quoted in Auberon Waugh's book Waugh on Wine. See earlier post. The WSJ article cites the same quote in the context of a review by Moira Hodgson of a book by Alan Tardi entitled Champagne, Uncorked which is replete with advice of a similar nature.

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Waugh Seminar at Durham University

The Department of English Studies  at Durham University has issued the details of a seminar later this week on the works of Evelyn Waugh:

Join the next Inventions of the Text seminar, where Dr Jason Harding will do something that one is not supposed to: explain a joke – specifically the humour of Evelyn Waugh. The seminar takes place in the Department of English Studies, 26th May, starting at 17.30. Postgraduates and staff from all relevant humanities departments across the UK are welcome.

This paper attempts to do what we are told we should not do: explain a joke. More precisely, it seeks to employ a close attention to Evelyn Waugh’s language to establish an anatomy of the art of his early satiric fiction, dissecting a series of farcical, comic, satirical and tragi-comic episodes. It ends by contemplating the grim smile of nihilism at work in his oeuvre withering all humane values.

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Daily Mail Reviews Brideshead Again

The Daily Mail, which published one of the most positive reviews of the stage production of Brideshead Revisited now touring England (see earlier post), has posted another review. This latest  version is by Robert Gore-Langton, who saw the performance at Bath and is less effusive in his praise.  Unlike many earlier critics, however, he quite likes the protracted deathbed scene at the end:

Evelyn Waugh’s 1945 novel is one long suck-up to the Catholic aristocracy...In Bryony Lavery’s adaptation for English Touring Theatre, the book is done at a hell of a lick....The protracted death of Lord Marchmain sparks a theological wrangle that surprisingly manages to be dramatic. But the great comic scenes ...are not funny enough. Christopher Simpson’s portrait of alcoholic self-neglect as Sebastian is a dose of reality in this syrupy cocktail of nostalgia, snobbery and religion.

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Waugh and Patrick Leigh Fermor

In a posting on the Patrick Leigh Fermor Society website there is a reference in which Evelyn Waugh is quoted as describing Leigh Fermor and Joan Rayner (later his wife) as "the Nicotine Maniac and his girl." This appears in a November 1952 post card from Waugh to Diana Cooper, who was an admirer of Leigh Fermor. The cryptic message seems to relate somehow to Leigh Fermor's involvement in a 1949 visit to Mentmore where Peter Beatty, possibly a mutual friend from Army days, apparently lived or was staying before his suicide. Waugh's contemporaneous comment on that event in a letter to Nancy Mitford does not mention Leigh Fermor. Letters, p. 312. The quote on the PLF Society site comes from the draft of a biography of Joan Rayner being written by Simon Fenwick :

...when they met Paddy may have been an officer but it took Joan to make him a gentleman. Paddy was totally undomesticated and remained so. He flooded baths and spilt drinks over sheets. He also smoked 100 a day, habitually set the bed on fire and woke up in clouds of smoke. In one of his letters Evelyn Waugh refers to Paddy and Joan as ‘the Nicotine Maniac and his girl’. Not unnaturally Joan and he had separate bedrooms although hers was invariably covered in cats which he wasn’t keen on. I suppose Paddy was quite a good advert for the fact that smoking doesn’t always kill you.

In her response to Waugh's post card, Cooper (also sensitive to Leigh Fermor's smoking habits) referred to the pair as "the chimney and his girl." Mr Wu and Mrs Stitch, pp. 148-49.

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The Long Weekend (More)

D.J. Taylor has reviewed Adrian Tinniswood's book The Long Weekend in the Wall Street Journal. This is a social history of Britain between the wars. Both Alec and Evelyn Waugh merit attention in Taylor's article, which is entitled "Do not go gentry". Alec's role was already mentioned in an earlier posting:

...Alec Waugh has a cameo in “The Long Weekend,” Adrian Tinniswood’s beguiling if somewhat digressive account of the country house phenomenon, where he turns out to exemplify at least two social tendencies of the age. One is the country house’s habit of falling into the hands of colonizing expatriates (the purchase of Edrington, Waugh’s domicile on the Wiltshire-Hampshire border, was underwritten by his immensely wealthy Australian wife). The other is his employment of the legendary Sybil Colefax—she of D.H. Lawrence’s famous poem about London society hostesses, “the Ladies Colefax and Cunard”—to decorate its interiors.

Evelyn is briefly mentioned in connection with the country house theme of Brideshead Revisited, and the article concludes with a cite to Waugh's preface to the 1960 revision of that book:

Although Mr. Tinniswood ends his story on a note of diminuendo (“the long weekend was over”) the seeds of rejuvenation had been sown. As he relates, the National Trust and the Council for the Preservation of Rural England were already at work to rescue “furnished historic mansions” for the nation. Writing a new preface to “Brideshead Revisited” in 1959, Evelyn Waugh explained that the original’s lament for what its author then believed to be the irrevocable passing of the great English houses was fundamentally misplaced: “it was impossible to foresee, in the spring of 1944, the present cult of the English country house.” The cult continues, even if the lifestyles and the paraphernalia that Adrian Tinniswood so lavishly celebrates have crumbled into dust.




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75th Anniversary of Battle of Crete Marked in German Paper

In yesterday's Süddeutsche Zeitung there is a feature story by Kurt Kister about the Battle of Crete. This was fought 75 years ago this week. Since it was one of the German Army's last clear victories (although a costly one in terms of German casualties), this may entitle it to special mention in the German press. A few weeks later, Hitler sent the troops into the Soviet Union, a bad move as it turned out.

Waugh's novel, Sword of Honor  is mentioned toward the end of the article. He describes the British retreat after the German paratroop landings proved decisive. Here's the Google translate version (slightly modified) of that part of the article:

Chora Sfakion is a popular destination today. A now well-developed road leads across the island to the small port; drive through a wild, romantic mountain landscape. When you come to the crest of the mountain range, it overlooks the deep blue Mediterranean, before going down to meandering serpentines to the taverns and actually quite unkretisch whitewashed houses.

It is hard to imagine how it might have looked like here 75 years ago. The road to Sphakia as it called by the British was lined with discarded equipment, vehicles were tumbled down the slopes, wounded dragged on, from the direction of the mountains thronging Germans could hear noise of battle. The grandiose English writer Evelyn Waugh, who took part in the withdrawal as an officer, has given in his book "Without fear and without reproach" an oppressive, ironic, all readable representation of the last days in Crete. On May 27, 1941, the British government decided to evacuate the island.

In the last May days the Navy managed under continuous attacks of the German Air Force to evacuate 15 000 soldiers and civilians off the island, among them were the Greek king and the prime minister, dealing with their entourage which had fled through the picturesque gorge of Samaria to the south coast.  On June 1, around Chora Sfakion ten thousand British and Greeks surrendered to the Germans. The Battle of Crete was struck. After the hostilities had ended, the eastern part of the island of Italian soldiers was occupied.

Sword of Honour is translated into German as Ohne Furcht und Tadel, literally "Without fear and reproach." Waugh was present in Chora Sfakion, which is near Babali Inn where Guy Crouchback found the body of the British soldier in a churchyard. I have made a few edits to the translation but our readers are also invited to compare it to the original and offer other edits.

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Evelyn and Kick (Still More)

Two more London papers have published articles about Paula Byrne's new book on Kathleen Kennedy, entitled Kick. See earlier posts. The Daily Mail features it as the Book of the Week. Waugh is prominently mentioned in that review, by Ginny Dougary, in connection with the marriage of Kathleen, a Roman Catholic, to William Hartington, an Anglican:

They want to marry but struggle to overcome their gravest obstacle: their different faiths. Evelyn Waugh, with all the zeal of the new convert, was the most judgmental of Kick's friends when - after many discussions with religious advisers - she finally found a way to marry her man. Waugh warned she'd go to hell (while using her plight for Julia Flyte falling in love with an Anglican in Brideshead Revisited).

The comparison of Hartington, who was by all reports a devout Anglican, and Rex Mottram, who was at best an opportunist when it came to religion, should not be overstated. Rex's marriage created far more serious issues in the novel, not least the existence of a previous wife which he had failed to disclose. Kathleen's marriage issues would, however, have been fresh in Waugh's mind when he was writing Brideshead

The Daily Telegraph publishes a summary of the book by Byrne in which she says that she came to the subject as a result of her research on her earlier book about Waugh, Mad World.

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Pinfold Features in Article on Hallucinatory Literature

A recent article in a U.S. academic journal opens with a reference to Waugh's late, autobiographical novel The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold. This is in an article by John Foxwell of Durham University entitled "Enacting Hallucinatory Experiences in Literature: Metalepsis, Agency and the Phenomenology of Reading in Muriel Spark's The Comforters." The article appears in the journal Style (v. 50, n. 2) published by Pennsylvania State University and is available online to those with subscriptions to Jstor or Project MUSE.

The opening line is from a letter of Evelyn Waugh to Alan Barnsley, identified in the article as Sparks' agent, who had sent him a proof copy of The Comforters: "The mechanics of the hallucinations are well managed." The full text of the letter may be found in Letters, p. 477. It is dated 29 October 1956 and addressed to Gabriel Fielding, which was Barnsley's pseudonym. It was apparently written just at the time Waugh was himself "engaged on a similar subject," presumably Pinfold, which was published in 1957. Waugh offered a blurb for the book's dust wrapper and advertising: "brilliantly original and fascinating."

If any of our readers are able to access the full text, they may wish to comment on anything  of interest it may have to say about's Waugh's writing on this subject.

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