Commonweal Republishes Waugh Story

On the occasion of Evelyn Waugh’s birthday last week, the independent US Roman Catholic magazine Commonweal has republished his 1953 story of the dystopian future, Love Among the Ruins. The story made its first US appearance in Commoneweal’s issue dated 31 July 1953, a month after the UK publication of a shorter version in Lilliput. The story also appeared later that year in a UK edition in book form and has been included in various collected editions (R M Davis, et al., Bibliography of Evelyn Waugh, pp. 20, 115). Waugh’s story was in a sense his answer to George Orwell’s 1984 which was first published in 1948.

Commonweal has also recently published an essay (“A Book More Equal than Others: Animal Farm and Commonweal”) on its role in introducing Orwell’s writings to US Roman Catholics in the 1940’s. Waugh also figures briefly in that analysis as part of a discussion of Orwell’s reviews of books by Roman Catholic writers Frank Sheed (Communism and Man) and Graham Greene (The Heart of the Matter):

The reviews of Sheed and Greene alone demonstrate a surprising theological sophistication on Orwell’s part—and an unusual degree of interest in Catholic teaching for a British socialist. Orwell was, to use the poetic phrase that Max Weber applied to himself, “religiously musical.” But he also had a nose for hypocrisy, posturing, and snobbery, and his criticism of Catholics often focused on those vices. He was suspicious of the fashionable upper-class vogue to “swim the Tiber” during the 1920s and ’30s. He thought the conversions of Evelyn Waugh and (Orwell’s Etonian classmate) Christopher Hollis were motivated at least in part by nostalgia. (It did not help that both Waugh and Hollis were politically conservative.) By contrast, although Orwell disliked Irish nationalist writers such as Sean O’Casey, he felt affection for the 3 million working-class Irish laborers in Britain, almost all of them Catholic. His argument was with Rome, not with the Irish Catholic worker in the pews of London’s East End.

UPDATE (3 November 2016): Commonweal is not published by the Jesuits, as stated in the original posting,  but is a liberal, lay Roman Catholic journal. America is the Jesuit journal. Both frequently publish articles about Waugh. Tip of the hat once again to Dave Lull for catching this one.

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