Bloggers Note Waugh Anniversary

Several bloggers have noted the 50th anniversary of Evelyn Waugh’s death in postings referring to his written works or those by others about him.

In Anecdotal Evidence, Patrick Kurp quotes from the article by Waugh’s youngest son Septimus Waugh that recently appeared in the Spectator. See earlier post. Kurp also refers to Waugh’s often overlooked travel writing. He includes in his article this quote of self-analysis written by Waugh in his book Remote People about his travels in Africa in the early 1930s. The passage was inspired by Waugh’s meeting two Armenians who acted as his guides and whom he considered ideal “men of the world.”:

“Sometimes when I find that elusive ideal looming too attractively, I envy among my friends this one’s adaptability to diverse company, this one’s cosmopolitan experience, this one’s impenetrable armour against sentimentality and humbug, that one’s freedom from conventional prejudices, this one’s astute ordering of his finances and nicely calculated hospitality, and realise that, whatever happens to me and however I deplore it, I shall never in fact become a `hard-boiled man of the world’ of the kind I read about in the novels I sometimes obtain at bookstalls for short railway journeys; that I shall always be ill at ease with nine out of every ten people I meet; that I shall always find something startling and rather abhorrent in the things most other people think worth doing, and something puzzling in their standards of importance; that I shall probably be increasingly, rather than decreasingly, vulnerable to the inevitable minor disasters and injustices of life — then I comfort myself a little by thinking that, perhaps if I were an Armenian I should find things easier.”

That may be the longest sentence Waugh ever wrote. The quote appears in Remote People (London, 1931, at pp. 110-11).

In another blog entitled The Diary Review, Paul K. Lyons considers Waugh’s diaries and quotes from both the 1976 edition and several reviews of that book. He also summarizes the history of its publication:

For most of his life, indeed from the age of 7, Waugh kept a diary, though he stopped about a year before his death. However, there are only 340,000 words in the extant diary material, not a great volume for so long a period. The manuscripts – many on loose sheets, some bound – are kept by the University of Texas where they were transferred after Waugh’s death. There is no evidence that he kept the diary with publication in mind, rather that he wrote it, later on any way, as an aide memoire to assist him in his travel journalism and other writings. The decision to publish his diaries was taken in 1973 by his second wife, Laura, in conjunction with their son Auberon.

The Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, as edited by Michael Davie, were first published in 1976 by Weidenfeld & Nicolson, the book running to over 800 pages. Although portions of Waugh’s early diaries were left out, Davie retained as much of Waugh’s text as he could, apart from twenty or so libellous passages and a similar number of references which could be considered ‘intolerably offensive’.

Finally, in Supremacy and Survival, a Roman Catholic historical blog, there are quotes from Harry Mount’s recent article in the Catholic Herald about Brideshead Revisited (see earlier post) as well as from an article by George Weigel about Waugh.

NOTE (11 April 2016): Another blogger has also posted a short essay on the occasion of this anniversary. This is Steve King on Today in Literature.

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