Several recent unrelated newspaper interviews mention Evelyn Waugh in the context of the careers of those interviewed. In the Catholic Herald, historical novelist Robert Harris talks about his latest novel Conclave. This has as its setting the selection of a Pope. The interview raises questions about Harris’s interest in religion:
…this is an author who is clearly an admirer of the Church. Not only does he love the history and the art, the display and the ritual, from which politicians have learned so much, he also immersed himself in St John XXIII’s Journal of a Soul to prepare for this novel. He is a profound admirer of three Catholic novelists, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh and the lesser known but underrated Brian Moore. These authors catch the spiritual dimension to life, the neglect of which was the great mistake of George Orwell’s, as Waugh was the first to point out.
A Sri Lankan paper, the Daily News, reports on an interview with a local novelist, Ashok Ferrey, who studied mathematics at Christ Church, Oxford. His books include Love in the Tsunami and Colpetty People. When asked who are his favorite writers, Ferrey answered:
They are Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, Muriel Spark and R.K. Narayan. All of them are very funny. Graham Greene I love, because all his books are to do with good and evil. They are about people who through no fault of their own end up in a world where they are forced to make decisions and are forced to pull a gun out and shoot. He deals with the ethics and the morality of things. He deals a lot with guilt. Evelyn Waugh is supremely funny and satirical and yet there is an underlying pathos and sadness. Muriel Spark is absurd and her characters are so weird. I empathize because some of my characters are somewhat weird. And R.K. Narayan is such a funny observer of life. Surely if you like a writer’s work twenty years ago you will still like it now? I have been told that R.K. Narayan is completely out of fashion now! But I love his style because his words are very simple. It is a deceptive simplicity.
Finally, in an Evening Standard interview, Kim Jones, artistic director of Louis Vuitton menswear, was explaining to the reporter the many and various objects of interest which decorate his Paris apartment. Prominent among them were artifacts of the Bloomsbury Group, including
… a favourite, painted screen by Roger Fry. ‘It’s from 1909, belonged to Evelyn Waugh’s brother and is mentioned in Brideshead Revisited. I was tipped off about it by Bryan Ferry who knew I was interested in Omega Workshop stuff.’
Although the article is accompanied by several photographs, the screen does not seem to be among them, The Omega Screen is used in Brideshead to illustrate Charles Ryder’s transition in artistic tastes. He buys it shortly after his arrival at Oxford to express his interest in the Bloomsbury Group, then has it removed when he acquires different tastes from Sebastian and his circle, ultimately selling it to Collins to help get himself through the summer term (Penguin, 1962, pp. 29, 35, 60).
UPDATE: The ever resourceful David Lull has found an auction house internet listing for the sale of the Roger Fry screen formerly owned by Alec Waugh. It is described in the novel as a “screen, painted by Roger Fry with a Provencal landscape…” (Penguin, 1962, p. 29). Sounds like a ringer for the one in the listing. This may be where Kim Jones acquired it. Tip of the hat once again to Dave Lull.