Earlier this week Prof Alan Jacobs of Baylor University in Waco, TX posted a brief article on his weblog in which he distilled most of the negative views of Evelyn Waugh into a few paragraphs. These include Waugh’s allegedly callous attitude toward his children, his war record and even challenges to the sincerity of his conversion to Roman Catholicism. (Oddly, Prof Jacobs left out snobbery.) These are all familiar views that have been stated elsewhere by others; for example, Prof Jacobs quotes Christopher Sykes on Waugh’s reputation as an officer. What is unusual is that there is no attempt at balance or objectivity.
An excerpt from the article dealing with religious beliefs was reposted a day later on oldlife.org, a Protestant religious blog. It is not clear who made that reposting. At least one commenter was prompted to take issue with Prof Jacobs’ article on his Twitter feed. This is journalist Matthew Walther who writes for the politically conservative internet newspaper the Washington Free Beacon. Walther has also written on Waugh, not always positively but with a degree of objectivity that is notably missing from Prof Jacobs’ post. See previous post. Walther’s Twitter feed and several responses can be viewed here. Thanks to David Lull for calling this debate to our attention. Anyone wishing to join in is free to do so either on Matthew Walther’s Twitter feed or oldlife.org, both linked above.