Another Memorial Essay: Who’s A Naughty Boy, Then?

The neoconservative internet newspaper The Washington Free Beacon has posted an essay by journalist Matthew Walther on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Waugh’s death. This is entitled “Naughty Boy,” somewhat reminiscent of Ludovic’s conversations with his new puppy in Unconditional Surrender.  Walther provides a brilliant one paragraph summary of Waugh’s works. He then reviews Waugh’s life in somewhat more detail, most of which is familiar. Both the life and work are equally important in assessing Waugh’s career, according to Walther, who concludes:

It is not the generous qualities recalled by [Graham] Greene and other friends that are foremost in our minds. Waugh elevated misanthropy to the level of art. His crotchets are the stuff of legend. He delighted in absurdity, in malice, and in outrageous acts of cruelty… Throughout Waugh’s writings there is a visceral disgust with sin, from the pedophilia of Captain Grimes to the adultery of Brenda Last and John Beaver to the casual eugenics of the moronic Hooper. He hated sin with a perfect hatred, including self-hatred. The sense one gets, above all, is that of a horror of confusion and error. One hears in the early novels a cry for order that could not be satisfied by the gin-soaked certainties of reaction or sublimated in well-made paragraphs. From this darkness he turned to “the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” 

This is not to suggest that faith was merely instrumental for Waugh, a kind of therapy… It is also important to emphasize that for him Catholicism was not an intellectual, much less an aesthetic or a social affair…Asked on more than one occasion why he was a Catholic, he simply replied, “Because it’s true.”

This entry was posted in A Handful of Dust, Anniversaries, Articles, Catholicism, Decline and Fall, Newspapers, Unconditional Surrender/The End of the Battle and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.