Waugh in the News

Evelyn Waugh is cited or quoted in several recent newspaper articles:

In the Guardian, columnist Ian Jack has written a story in which he muses about the possibility that the Oxford-Cambridge rail line may be revived under a recent government proposal. In the course of the story, he recalls, without much relevance, the days of the Railway Club at Oxford to which Waugh and several of his chums had subscribed:

Oxford University’s railway club, for example, never seems to have used the line for its excursions, though probably because the Oxbridge trains lacked a restaurant car. The club, founded in the 1920s, included bright young things such as Evelyn Waugh among its membership and aimed “to popularise the pleasures of drinking on trains at night”.  A favourite outing took members in full evening dress to Leicester onboard the Penzance to Aberdeen express. On the way they would drink and dine, and at Leicester change platforms quickly to catch the reverse express, Aberdeen to Penzance, back to Oxford, drinking and speechifying in the restaurant car all the way.

The New York Times publishes an article about the rudeness of the ever increasing numbers of Chinese tourists now encountered at the world’s favorite watering holes but quotes Waugh to urge that matters be kept in proper perspective:

It seems to be human nature to poke fun at other tourists’ misdemeanors and not recognize our own. As Evelyn Waugh observed, “The tourist is the other fellow.” Perhaps the Marquis de Sade was right and none of us should be allowed to travel. Then we can all just misbehave at home.

The quote comes from a 1935 Vogue article (“The Tourist Manual”) reprinted in Essays, Articles and Reviews, p. 170.

A Philippine newspaper (The Inquirer) opens a story about the recent political problems in that country under its new leader with a quote from Brideshead Revisited:

“A blow, expected, repeated, falling upon a bruise.” In his novel “Brideshead Revisited,” Evelyn Waugh describes it well: “with no smart or shock of surprise, only a dull and sickening pain and the doubt whether another like it could be borne.” This is how it has felt to be a young person in the first year of the Duterte administration—to proceed from the haphazard optimism we all tried to feel at first, and to watch aghast as the administration has begun inch by inch to pull the rug out from underneath us. [Book 2, chapter 1, p. 161, Penguin]

The New York Review of Books, in a review of a veritable cascade of books expressing nostalgia for the post-war period’s brutalist age of architecture, characterized by seemingly charmless and hard to love concrete structures, cites the example of the renewed interest in the previously maligned period of Victorian architecture to which Waugh contributed:

Oxford aesthetes of the 1920s (a coterie that included John Betjeman, Osbert Lancaster, and Evelyn Waugh) discovered new charm in ornate Victorian monuments that their parents’ contemporaries dismissed as eyesores.

Finally, an article about Waugh by Pedro Mexia in the weekly Portuguese language newspaper Expresso, published in Lisbon, starts with a familiar journalistic refrain:

The testimonies are unanimous: Evelyn Waugh was an unpleasant man, if not detestable. Waugh died fifty years ago, and I was about to read the latest biography of Philip Eade when I found in one of those chaotic and invaluable London booksellers of Charing Cross a small 1967 book entitled “Evelyn Waugh: Portrait of a Country Neighbor “ by Frances Donaldson…The book confirms almost everything that has been written about the novelist, but recalls that Waugh himself boasted that this fame was known and exacerbated…. [Translation by Google]

Unfortunately, at that point the text retreats behind a complicated paywall that defeats Google Translate’s ability to render it into English. The article is entitled “O vizinho desagravavel” (The rightful neighbor). Any readers having access to and ability to read the article are invited to comment as provided below.

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