Quick Delivery of A Little Order

A blogger living in London (blogging as Dickon Edwards) has posted an experience of brick and mortar booksellers becoming more competitive with their online counterparts:

There are many reasons to buy books from bookshops rather than Amazon, but one is that London bookshops are simply better for getting a book in a hurry. Today I find that the little branch of Hatchards in St Pancras can order an unstocked title at 2pm, and have it ready for me to collect by 6. No extra charge, not even a deposit. The volume in question is Evelyn Waugh’s selected essays, A Little Order.

The edition Mr Edwards ordered is the first, which originally appeared as a hardback with 192 pages under this title in 1977. When I asked the editor why a new, expanded edition with 662 pages was issued in 1983 under the different title Essays, Articles and Reviews. Prof Donat Gallagher, who edited both editions, explained in an e-mail how this came about:

I approached A D Peters about publishing some of Waugh’s journalism. He was discouraging, saying that Waugh was little interested in journalism, but allowed me to go ahead. The publishers, Methuen, set the word limit for what became A Little Order and I fitted in what I thought was most representative and best of his work within their limits. This was a period when Waugh’s reputation was at its very lowest point.

Following the very successful publication of the Letters and the Diaries, it was apparent that there was room for a volume of journalism on a comparable scale. Essays, Articles and Reviews set out to be a representative selection, within roughly the same number of pages as Letters and Diaries. A representative selection is different from a selection of what is thought best, although, of course, the best pieces were for the most part included.

The paperback edition has had a different history. Penguin first published Essays, Articles and Reviews under that title in paperback in 1986. That edition had 688 pp. When they reissued the book in 2000 in the Penguin Modern Classics series, they used the first edition and original title for their text. The copy Mr. Edwards bought, entitled A Little Order and comprising 208 pages, is apparently this shorter Penguin Modern Classics edition, which is the only edition still in print.

The next edition of Waugh’s journalism is likely to be that of the Complete Works of Evelyn Waugh project which will cover 4 volumes of the projected total of 43. Here’s their description from their website:

Volumes 26-29: Essays, Articles and Reviews

Edited by Donat Gallagher

Our series of Waugh’s shorter non-fictional works brings together every surviving article and essay from “In Defence of Cubism”, which Waugh wrote aged fourteen, all the way through to his review of Hubert Van Zeller’s autobiography, One Foot in the Cradle, which appeared in the month of Waugh’s death. As a writer for hire, a considerable amount of Waugh’s life in letters was devoted to journalism – these 4 volumes provide a detailed picture of the man and his times that complements his fiction and reveals his considered and not-so-considered opinion on the subjects of, to name but a few, marriage, Mussolini, motherhood, censorship and church reform. Waugh’s short travelogue The Holy Places (1952) is also included in this collection, along with the foreword to his compilation of pre-war travel texts, When the Going was Good (1946).

UPDATE (26 September 2016): A revision was made to the original version of the above posting. This is based on an e-mail from Prof Gallagher in which he clarified how an expanded version of the collected journalism grew out of the shorter first edition. The misunderstanding between Prof Gallagher and the publisher mentioned in the original version of the posting referred to the introduction, not the text, of A Little Order.

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