New Waugh Biography Reviewed

Philip Eade’s new biography, Evelyn Waugh: A Life Revisited, will be published next month in the U.K. The U.S. edition is scheduled for release in October. In what may be the first review to appear on the internet, Richard Davenport-Hines has written about it in the latest edition of The Oldie. Here are some excerpts:

As selling-points Eade makes two correctives to previous biographers. Waugh was neither the military bungler nor the crashing snob whom his detractors portray. He never skulked from his birth in a cul-de-sac near London’s Finchley Road, his baptism in Kilburn and upbringing in Golder’s Green. Although he chronicled both aristocratic self-indulgence and what he called ‘the sharp instinct for self-preservation that passes for wisdom among the rich’, he did so contemptuously. He was incapable of the servility that is the prerequisite of a snob…

Eade seems scared by his ferocious subject. He is too sunny a character to understand Waugh’s sombre moods. The modest tone of his book is enlivened when he quotes from Waugh’s arrogant but often hilarious letters, which make one long for a collected edition of his correspondence. Eade’s prose is slackly colloquial and syntactically wonky. He repeatedly uses a comma instead of a full stop at the end of a serviceable sentence, tacks on the word ‘however’ and conjoins a second sentence regardless of the meaning. There are sentences eleven lines long swerving through matchbox-collecting, alcoholism, teddy bears and the male beauty of a Giotto angel. This suggests a harassed author who has not taken breath before assembling his copious material.


This entry was posted in Anniversaries, Biographies, Books about Evelyn Waugh and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.