Waugh in the News (more)

The author (Pedro Mexia) of the Portuguese language article about Evelyn Waugh in the weekly Lisbon newspaper Expresso has kindly sent us a complete copy of the article. See earlier post for the opening paragraph. Here is an edited Google translation of the remainder:

…No one denies that Waugh was “bloody difficult”. He had ultramontane views on almost everything, some to shock, others out of conviction. He detested socialism (and even the Tories seemed to him socialist), the modern theater, the Second Vatican Council, basically everything that the well-thought-out media appreciated. It was a Victorian formalism, a maniacal demand. A misanthrope, he excluded at the outset any contact with nine tenths of the people, by socio-cultural snobbery, or by class idealization. He was annoyed with enormous ease. I’d rather lose a friend than lose a good joke. And he was not inhibited from being a spoiler, inconvenient, ruthless.

Frances Donaldson witnessed a few less edifying episodes, for example when her husband, Jack (Frances and Jack were Labor militants, and Evelyn Waugh drew scythes and hammers on the otherwise amiable cards she sent them). But she also saw the other side of Waugh, a cyclothymic who experienced both neuroses and euphoria. She met a hospitable Waugh, gentle, curious, immune to flattery and very generous to his fellow writers such as Anthony Powell or Cyril Connolly; Graham Greene was a home visitor. A man who decided to withdraw from the city largely because in London his vices (procrastination, alcohol, quezes [?]) would have kept him from writing the novels he wrote and would have consumed all the time and energy.

One of Waugh’s most interesting scholars, Ian Littlewood, rightly wrote that the novels of the author of “Brideshead Revisited“: 1) are an escape; 2) are about the idea of escape; 3) are about people who avoid reality; 4) are a way of avoiding reality. Waugh’s defense mechanisms, according to this essayist, were distance, humor, romanticism, nostalgia, religion, and the transfiguration of biography. Frances Donaldson confirms all this, and more. She closely followed the mental collapse that gave rise to the novel “The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold” (1957), a self-satirical, paranoid, and tells us that Waugh was unable to stick to the facts even when he spoke of himself, because he preferred always the grotesque and the ferocious…

The title of the article “O vizinho desagravavel” would be translated as “The unpleasant neighbor.” Many thanks to Mr Mexia for sending this along.

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