Waugh Novella Identified as “Conservative Page-Turner”

A conservative weblog called The Stream has published an article identifying what it considers “Five Page-Turner Conservative Novels That Predicted the Mess We’re In.” The article is written by journalist John Zmirak, a contributing editor to the weblog. Among the books listed is Evelyn Waugh’s 1953 novella Love Among the Ruins which Zmirak describes as

futuristic …by turns amusingly horrifying and darkly, sadly funny. It was Waugh’s attempt to follow the logic of milk-and-water humanitarian socialism to its logical conclusion: a society where criminals are treated as wounded victims, where private property is seized by the state and used “for the common good,” and every moral or character ideal is turned upon its head, in the name of a false, post-Christian humanism. (The Christmas season, in Waugh’s future, is renamed “Santaclaustide.”)

Waugh’s “hero” is a lifelong arsonist, whom the state houses in a cozy rehabilitation center set in an old aristocratic home that had (of course) been confiscated. He pursues his love of pretty, pretty fires and of a lovely hermaphrodite, a woman whom state experiments with gender identity have equipped with a long, golden beard. Fittingly, in this socialist paradise, the only government agency that is profitable and popular is the Ministry of Euthanasia, where the lines of hopeful customers always extend around the block. This is not Waugh at his subtlest, but at his most bleakly prophetic. The book reads as if he had somehow been granted access to this year’s newscasts from Belgium.

Other novels included on the list are Aldous Huxley, Brave New World, R.H. Benson, Lord of the World, Anthony Burgess, The Wanting Seed, and Jean Raspail, The Camp of the Saints. Waugh’s novella is currently available in the Complete Short Stories.

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