Jesuit Journal Reviews Eade Biography

The current issue of America magazine, the journal of the Jesuit order in the US, reviews Philip Eade’s biography of Evelyn Waugh. The review is by David Leigh and is not a favorable one: 

Any biographer of Evelyn Waugh (1903–66) writing 50 years after the writer’s death has to justify competing with major predecessors [Sykes, Stannard and Patey]…Disappointingly, A Life Revisited provides few insights into Waugh’s motivation for giving up his youthful dedication to high Anglicanism in favor of the Catholic Church in 1930, which made him one of the most notable converts of the 20th century. Eade’s account shows little of how Waugh’s spiritual renewal helped him deal with addictions to alcohol and sex, and with issues of fidelity in his marriage to Laura Herbert and their family, not to mention with his lifelong search for God and meaning in the modern secularized world…

The review continues with a fairly thorough summary of Eade’s book but finds little to like. It concludes:

Eade portrays the subsequent declining years with some sympathy, although not with a full understanding of Waugh’s resistance (as a staunch convert to Catholicism) to the changes that emerged from the Second Vatican Council in 1965, the year before he died. He was never reconciled to the use of vernacular in the Catholic liturgy, for which he had gained great devotion for 30 years…In brief, readers of Evelyn Waugh, whose 43-volume complete works are currently being published by Oxford University Press (under the editorship of his grandson Alexander Waugh), will still be looking for a full critical and personal biography of this great stylist and author of fiction, biography, satire and travel literature.


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