Evelyn Waugh 1962 Paris Review interview

In April 1962 Julian Jebb interviewed Evelyn Waugh for the Paris Review:

He showed me into a comfortable, soberly furnished room, with a fine view over the trees across Hyde Park. As he moved about the room he repeated twice under his breath, “The horrors of London life! The horrors of London life!”

“I hope you won’t mind if I go to bed,” he said, going into the bathroom. From there he gave me a number of comments and directions:

“Go and look out of the window. This is the only hotel with a civilized view left in London . . .. Do you see a brown-paper parcel? Open it, please.”

I did so.

“What do you find?”

“A box of cigars.”

“Do you smoke?”

“Yes. I am smoking a cigarette now.”

“I think cigarettes are rather squalid in the bedroom. Wouldn’t you rather smoke a cigar?”

He reentered, wearing a pair of white pajamas and metal-rimmed spectacles. He took a cigar, lit it, and got into bed.

The interview is illuminating. At one point Waugh states, “I regard writing not as investigation of character, but as an exercise in the use of language, and with this I am obsessed. I have no technical psychological interest. It is drama, speech, and events that interest me.” When asked if there were any books he would like to have written and found impossible, he replies, “I have done all I could. I have done my best.”

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