Waugh and Boredom

The Economist has posted on the website of its 1843 magazine an earlier article by one of its columnists, Adrian Wooldridge, entitled “Great Bores of Yore”. One of those discussed is Evelyn Waugh:

Waugh was a great bore-baiter, never happier than when ridiculing bores (the hero of “A Handful of Dust” has to listen to the complete works of Dickens). But all the baiting turned him into something of a bore himself. He adopted the pose of a reactionary country squire, giant ear trumpet and all. If what was being said bored him, he simply removed the trumpet. This stunt too became a bore – which, for Waugh, only added to its appeal.

Others listed include William Gladstone, Kim Il-Sung, and Calvin Coolidge. The entry for Waugh is a bit misleading, however.  While it is true he might enjoy boring those he himself found to be bores, in his later years he was appalled to learn that he had bored people he was trying to amuse. Indeed, when he learned that he had bored some English diplomats on a trip to the West Indies in 1961-62, he went into a state of depression (or lack of self-esteem) from which he seems never to have fully recovered (Stannard: Later Years, pp. 455-56).

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