A review of two recent books about Evelyn Waugh has become available on the internet, at least in part. The books are In the Picture by Donat Gallagher and Carlos Vilar Flor, both professors of English Literature, and Evelyn! A Rhapsody of Obsessive Love by Duncan McLaren. The review is entitled “Waugh Games” and is written by Philip Eade, who is himself working on a book about Waugh to be published next year.
The first book under review is a detailed reconsideration of Waugh’s military career, with particular reference to debunking some of the myths that have grown up around previous biographical material. Eade concludes that while Gallagher’s arguments are not always easy to follow due to the detailed archival material being marshaled in support, the book nevertheless “constitutes a remarkable accumulation of research that will prompt a re-evaluation of several key aspects of Waugh’s wartime career.”
Eade describes McLaren’s book as “lighter relief for Waugh enthusiasts.” It presents its research in original formats such as discussions McLaren has in pubs with his perceptive partner Kate at the end of a day spent tracking down material. Eade found the book to be “contrastingly madcap” in comparison with the more scholarly work of the two professors but also a “work of unexpected authority and revelation as well as great charm that will make seasoned Waugh scholars see things they will wish they had spotted themselves.” He concludes that “on the page as well as in the pub, McLaren is good company: funny, irreverent, and more than slightly crazy.”
The review is in the May 2015 issue of Literary Review but to read it in its entirety requires a subscription.