Cousin Jasper’s Advice

Rosamund Urwin in the Evening Standard has written an article about degree results. She opens with this:

In Evelyn Waugh’s novel Brideshead Revisited, the protagonist Charles Ryder receives advice from his cousin Jasper before starting his Oxford degree. “You want a first or a fourth,” he says. “Time spent on a good second is time thrown away.” I’d long thought this view as dated as those degree classifications. Surely a 2.1 … is a green light to employers? It reassures them that you hadn’t spent three years as a library hermit… That’s no longer true. This week, figures showed that among recent grads, a first wins you a £2,500 bonus. I imagine this shift reflects student ambition rather than employers’ desires: the smart kids don’t want to pile up debt just to while away time in Wetherspoons. And given how obsessed many of those who went to university are with the result, this seems wise…

So, Cousin Jasper is redeemed.

A reference to Waugh also opens another article. This is by K E Colombini in The American Conservative and is entitled “The Literature of Angels and Demons”. 

Tucked away as a footnote in Philip Eade’s recent biography of Evelyn Waugh lies an interesting observation comparing Waugh to another contemporary novelist, Graham Greene: Lady Diana Cooper, a friend of both the British authors, commented in a letter to her son that Greene was “a good man possessed of a devil,” and Waugh “a bad man for whom an angel is struggling.”…Lady Diana’s comparison of Waugh and Greene strikes at the heart of good literature … One can easily analyze the major serious works of these two novelists to find countless examples of people struggling between their personal angels and demons…

The article continues with a discussion comparing Brideshead Revisited and Greene’s The Power and the Glory and extending to the recent films Silence and The Young Pope and the poetry of T S Eliot.

In the weblog Literary Hub, an article appears that collects references to books that inspired writers to write. Here is the entry for South African novelist Nadine Gordimer:

Q. Perhaps the isolation of your childhood helped you to become a writer—because of all the time it left you for reading—lonely though it must have been.

A. Yes… perhaps I would have become a writer anyway. I was doing a bit of writing before I got “ill.” I wanted to be a journalist as well as a dancer. You know what made me want to become a journalist? Reading Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop when I was about eleven. Enough to make anybody want to be a journalist! I absolutely adored it…

Finally, Lord Fowler, The Lord Speaker, in another reference to Scoop opened an address to the London Press Awards 2017 with this:

‘Looking back I think there is a tendency these days to think of the sixties as the golden age of newspapers. But as that splendid figure in Evelyn Waugh’s Scoop was apt to say to his proprietor – “Up to a point Lord Copper”. The truth is that the newspapers of today are better informed, better written, infinitely better laid out, and altogether better value for the reader than they have ever been. They not only hold officialdom to account they also campaign much more vigorously than ever before on issues which are of undoubted public concern but can get swept under the carpet…

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