The Tablet Celebrates 175 Years

The UK-based Roman Catholic weekly paper The Tablet is celebrating its 175th anniversary this year. Among the events related to the celebration that may be of interest to our readers are a literary festival at Birmingham in June and a lecture at the LSE in October. An event schedule is posted here.

Waugh wrote frequently for the paper. Among his most notable Tablet pieces are "Half in Love with Easeful Death: An Examination of Californian Burial Customs" (18 October 1947), which had first appeared in Life magazine in the US, and "Palinurus in Never-Never Land or, The Horizon Blue-Print of Chaos." (11 May 1946), about the writings of Cyril Connolly. These and other Waugh articles can be found at the Tablet's online archive.

Donat Gallagher, the editor of a volume of Waugh's collected journalism, wrote that:

In most circumstances Waugh would write entertainingly for a high fee. He would write seriously for no fee (e.g. for the Tablet) or a small fee (e.g. for the Spectator). But the market in between did not much interest him. (The Essays, Articles and Reviews of Evelyn Waugh, pp. 111-12)

According to a recent article in the Guardian, the Spectator (founded 1828) is the only UK- based weekly in regular circulation longer that the Tablet (founded 1840).

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Penguin Celebrates 80th Birthday Without Waugh

Penguin Books is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year by publishing 80 books in a Little Black Classics series. These consist of short (c. 60 pp.) extracts from its Penguin Classics series.

Conspicuous by its absence is any extract from a book by Evelyn Waugh, who must be one of Penguin's consistently best selling authors, with several books in print under its colophon from as early as 1937 (Decline and Fall, No. 75). Other 20th Century novelists whose works were selected include Katherine Mansfield, H. G. Wells and D. H. Lawrence.

Waugh was included in Penguin's last decennial celebration in 2005, celebrating 70 years with 70 "Pocket Penguins." Waugh's entry was No. 66, "The Coronation of Haile Selassie" , a 57-page extract from Remote People. His omission from the current batch of celebratory booklets may be due to his date of birth (1903). Those qualifying were all born before 1900. The youngest author represented is Wilfred Owen (1893-1918). Would it be churlish to wonder whether an author's work had to be out of copyright to qualify for this latest round?

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Cousin Jasper Cited in Cambridge Varsity

The Cambridge University student paper, Varsity, has cited Jasper Ryder's advice to his cousin Charles on how to succeed at Oxford:

"You want either a first or a fourth. There is no value in anything between. Time spent on a good second is time thrown away."

This appears in Waugh's Brideshead Revisited (Penguin, p. 28). Varsity's correspondent (Bret Cameron) thinks that Waugh's advice may be sound for the exceptional student. He thinks that the less exceptional, however, in which he includes himself, will be happier spreading themselves around numerous activities offered by a university such as Cambridge, rather than concentrating on achievement of academic success or failure. He might have noted that this is what Waugh himself did and, contrary to Cousin Jasper, passed at Oxford with a poor third. If only Waugh had not bothered cramming in his last few weeks, he might have become exceptional and pulled off a fourth.

Earlier in the week, another Waugh character was prominently cited in a review of a book about modern architecture. This was Otto Silenus, the practitioner of Bauhaus architecture in Decline and Fall (Everyman, p. 101):

“The problem of architecture as I see the problem of all art—the elimination of the human element from the consideration of form. The only perfect building must be the factory, because that is built to house machines, not men.”

The reviewer in City Journal (an urban policy quarterly), warns that planners devoted to the philosophy of Silenus, such as Robert Moses and Edward Logue, have damaged many US urban environments. This is a result foreseen by Waugh in his novel of 1928.

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Two Waugh Letters on Offer

Two Evelyn Waugh letters will be offered for sale at a Bonhams auction to be held on 18 March.

One, to Stella Morrah, expresses regret that she will be unable, due to illness, to accompany him to a dance that evening. He wonders if she might be available to attend a dance the following Saturday. the letter is dated New Years Eve 1919 when Waugh would have been 16. The recipient is described in the notes as the sister of Times correspondent Dermot Morrah. Stella later married Norman Edyvean-Walker, identified as a solicitor in Rugby, where she was active as an amateur artist. Waugh's handwriting is clear and precise and bears little resemblance to that of his adult years. He signs it E. A. Waugh, so perhaps they were not close friends. She is not mentioned by his biographers. Letters from this period of Waugh's life are scarce. The only one published in the 1980 collection that predates this one was written to his brother Alec in 1914.

The second letter is to Graham Greene and is dated 6 June 1950 from Piers Court. The reverse side of the letter is posted on the Bonhams website. Waugh mentions his wife's upcoming confinement for the birth of their seventh child and declines a proposal made by Greene that he change publishers in France. He says he has just returned from a trip to Italy where he visited Harold Acton and went to Verona, Parma and Mantua for the first time. He proposes that Greene join him on a trip to Jerusalem in the autumn. Waugh made such a trip in early 1951 to research an article for Life magazine, but it seems that Greene did not accompany him. Letters, 345-46.

Thanks to R. M. Davis for letting us know about a blog post about the letters at Fine Books Magazine.

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Lodge Memoirs (more)

In this week's New Statesman, journalist and academic John Mullan reviews the memoirs of David Lodge (see earlier post) and Antonia Fraser (My History: A Memoir of Growing Up).

He sees the two writers as a contrast between "prole" and "posh," respectively, using their relationships to Evelyn Waugh as an example of their differences:

The young David Lodge relishes the novels of Evelyn Waugh that he borrows from Deptford Public Library; Fraser knows Waugh as a family friend. Lodge goes to Germany to stay with a rackety aunt; Fraser holidays in Italy with the country’s prime minister. Lodge studies T S Eliot at university; Fraser dances with him at a ball.

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Waugh on Greene

In a Guardian column earlier this week, Robert McCrum cites Evelyn Waugh in support of his somewhat eccentric choice of Graham Greene's The End of the Affair as one of the 100 greatest novels in English.

McCrum admits Greene has written better books but finds Affair the best combination of his several strands of work -- from entertainments and politics to polemics and religion. He cites Waugh in support of his choice:

Waugh’s review of The End of the Affair of 6 September 1951 in the magazine Month stands up well to the test of time. In his new novel, writes Waugh, “Mr Greene has chosen another contemporary form, domestic, romantic drama of the type of Brief Encounter, and has transformed that in his own inimitable way.” Waugh added that the story was “a singularly beautiful and moving one”.

The article also quotes from Waugh's correspondence urging Greene not to give up on his religious themes but, as McCrum notes, Affair was Greene's last book to contain any serious consideration of religion.

An earlier McCrum post explains why he also included Scoop on his list.

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Brideshead Tops Telegraph's List of TV Book Adaptations

On the occasion of the BBC's broadcast of its adaptation of Hilary Mantel's Tudor novels (taking its title from the first, Wolf Hall), the Daily Telegraph published its list of what it considers the top 20 TV adaptations of all time. The 1981 Granada TV production of Brideshead Revisted tops the list:

Brideshead Revisited is television’s greatest literary adaptation as much for what it represents as for what it is. Over 13 hours it wallows in every last detail of Evelyn Waugh’s longest novel – indeed, large chunks of its run were spent with Jeremy Irons, as Waugh’s alter ego Charles Ryder, reading out passages from the book verbatim in narration. Filming lasted nine months and took place all over Europe; it cost what in today’s money would virtually buy you a whole channel, let alone a one-off series. We loved it then because it was so wistfully evocative of a world gone by. We love it now because it represents a particularly British type of TV literary drama that they just don’t make any more (at least we thought they didn't, until Wolf Hall - perhaps).

How the list was compiled is not explained. Other extended adaptations of contemporary novels on the list include Olivia Manning's Fortunes of War (BBC, 1987, No.14), John le Carré’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (BBC, 1979, No. 3), and Paul Scott's The Jewel in the Crown  (Granada, 1989, No.7).

The entire list can be viewed here. Following the slideshow is a compilation of comments which includes a lively exchange on the C4 adaptation of Sword of Honour.

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David Lodge Interviewed on BBC Radio 4

On today's episode of the BBC Radio 4 program Open Book, Mariella Frostrup interviews the Evelyn Waugh Society's Honorary President, David Lodge, about his recently published memoir.

Among the topics they discuss is Lodge's status as a Roman Catholic writer. Lodge felt that as a Catholic he was a member of a minority in England and that Catholic writers as a group formed a sort of elite to which he aspired. In addition to Waugh, he mentions Graham Greene and Francois Mauriac as among the Catholic writers he admired. He also notes the irony that he has lost much of his faith just at the time many other authors found they needed it most. Other subjects discussed are how his life affected his writing, his academic career as a source for material, his trips to the USA (which he found uplifting in the 1960s compared to the darker place it has now become), and his plans for a second volume.

The interview can be heard over the internet on a standard US internet connection for several more days at

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Guy Crouchback's Religion Featured in Article

The online edition of First Things, a Roman Catholic journal on religion and public life, has published an article, Catholicism Before and After 1963: Two Novels, by Gerald Russello in which he contrasts the impact of religion on the character of Guy Crouchback in Waugh's last novel Unconditional Surrender (1961) with that on the character of Monk Dawson in the novel of that title by Piers Paul Read (1969).

The website offers readers the opportunity to comment.

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Memoir of EWS's Honorary President Published

David Lodge, the Society's Honorary President, has written the first volume of his memoirs. This was published in the UK this week under the title Quite a Good Time to Be Born: A Memoir, 1935-1975. An international edition is promised by Amazon. com in February. The book was reviewed in the Financial Times on Friday by Suzi Feay who found it "not the account of a life packed with thrills other than the intellectual kind. But in its own way, it is a fascinating and moving read." The FT article announces that Lodge will discuss the book at the Oxford Literary Festival on 27 March.

The book was also reviewed in today's Sunday Telegraph by Nicholas Skakespeare, who  narrated and conducted interviews for the three-part documentary on Evelyn Waugh's life and works for the BBC Arena series in 1987. The review begins by warning readers not to expect too much from a novelist's memoirs, calling Waugh's A Little Learning his "least satisfactory book." Perhaps Shakespeare hasn't read A Tourist in Africa or Robbery Under Law. The review also notes that Lodge has written critical studies of both Waugh and Graham Greene, both of whom, like him, are Roman Catholics. Unlike them, however, Lodge grew up "knowing contentedly little about abroad or sex." D.J. Taylor in the Guardian compares Lodge and one of his fictional heroes to Charles Ryder and also notes that Lodge's father, who worked as a musician, played at Mrs. Meyrick's club, the 43, immortalized by Waugh in Brideshead as Ma Mayfield's Old Hundredth. This volume concludes with Lodge's early university teaching career and publication of his "breakthrough campus novel" Changing Places, but a second volume is, according to the reviewers, promised.

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