Waugh in the News

Several papers have alluded to Evelyn Waugh or his works in recent stories:

The Irish Times has an article in its “London Letter” column inspired by an interview with David Hockney in which the artist expressed his acquiescence in if not outrught support for the recent Brexit vote. The story goes on to consider what positions other artists might have taken:

If England’s living writers show little sympathy for the spirit of Brexit Britain, there may be richer pickings for Brexiteers amongst the dead. The two paramount curmudgeons of late 20th-century English letters, Kingsley Amis and John Osborne, would have voted Leave with bad-tempered relish. And Evelyn Waugh, who once complained that the Conservative Party had “never put the clock back a single second”, would have been irresistibly drawn by the nostalgia of Brexit.

Other English Catholic writers are more problematic, although Graham Greene, an anti-imperialist who lived in France for the latter half of his life, would have been a firm Remainer. Hilaire Belloc was half-French, but his anti-Semitism made him suspicious of all transnational projects that were not dominated by the Catholic Church…GK Chesterton shared Belloc’s preoccupation with the Jews. His Short History of England, published during the first World War, is imbued with English nationalism. Still, it locates English history firmly within the story of western Christendom and European politics, quoting with approval Rudyard Kipling’s rhetorical question “what should they know of England who only England know?”

The Daily Telegraph in a compendium of 100 jokes about love, sex and marriage (possibly with a view to the upcoming observance of St Valentine’s Day) includes this one from Waugh (which appears in his novel Vile Bodies) :

All this fuss about sleeping together. I’d sooner go to the dentist any day.

The Guardian in a review of a film entitled Final Portrait by Stanley Tucci makes a Waugh connection. The film is about artist Alberto Giacometti’s obsession with an American art critic James Lord whom he invited to his studio to pose but then kept him there for an extended pleading inability to complete the portrait:

His subject, though delighted and flattered by the honour, is forced to make a series of ruinously expensive flight cancellations. Complaining would of course be unthinkable ingratitude and discourtesy. He begins to fear he will be there for ever, like Tony Last in Evelyn Waugh’s A Handful of Dust reading Dickens to the jungle madman. For some reason, Giacometti likes having him around as ally and witness to all the tensions in his life: perhaps focusing on Lord’s youth is a way of indefinitely deferring death. Lord has to figure out a way of persuading Giacometti to stop painting. A strange bond develops between the men, something between friendship and duel.

Finally, the following item, along with a film clip, appears in the Gay Times compilation of  “14 unforgettable same-sex kisses” from the movies:

Brideshead Revisited – Ben Whishaw and Matthew Goode

This big screen adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited tells the story of Charles Ryder and his infatuation with Lord Sebastian Flyte, their wealthy family and ancestral home, Brideshead. It caused controversy online, with some suggesting the friendship between the pair has become distorted – no doubt their concerns with the movie became stronger when its star Ben Whishaw shared an intimate kiss on screen.

UPDATE (16 February 2017): A similar selection of “same-sex kisses” as that appearing in Gay Times has been published in the German-language Bild newspaper under a byline for Tobias Perlick. This is limited to 10 scenes. While it also makes some substitutions for the Gay Times selections, Brideshead Revisited (2008) survives and is now at the top of the list.  

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