Wavian Roundup

The Guardian reviews the new book by Nicholas Shakespeare, who wrote and directed the BBC’s 1980’s Arena TV documentary series known as The Waugh Trilogy. The book is entitled Six Minutes in May: How Churchill Unexpectedly Became Prime Minister and deals with the period after the disastrous 1940 British invasion of Norway when Neville Chamberlain resigned. Among the notable participants in the invasion (which was, ironically, planned by Churchill who was its unintended political beneficiary) was one who featured in a Waugh novel:

[Shakespeare] conjures the characters and personalities of the senior commanders in the Norwegian campaign with a novelist’s flair and eye for detail. Most memorable are the Earl of Cork and Orrery, a monocle-wearing admiral known to junior officers as “Cork-n-orrible” and Adrian Carton de Wiart VC, who wore a patch after losing an eye during the first world war and was the model for Evelyn Waugh’s Brigadier Ritchie-Hook in the Sword of Honour trilogy.

Waugh scholar Carlos Villar Flor has published a new novel. This is in Spanish and is entitled Descubre Por Qué Te Mato (Discover Why I Kill You). The novel, reviewed on Rioja2.com and other Spanish news sites, concerns a journalist who receives a death threat and is given one month to discover the motive. According to the article, the new book:

is the fourth novel by Carlos Villar Flor … professor of English Philology at the University of La Rioja. To document the world of journalism the author contacted the newspaper ‘La Rioja’ and other headers, and spent time at its headquarters, interviewing the staff and breathing the atmosphere of a newsroom. Villar Flor is a scholar of the English author Evelyn Waugh, of whom he has published numerous translations into Spanish, critical editions, and monographic books in Spanish and English. He is currently working on a study of Graham Greene’s travels through Spain.

The article does not suggest that Villar Flor’s novel was influenced by Scoop, Waugh’s own novel about journalists, but a parallel can be drawn from the fact that Waugh did inform his novel by undertaking his own personal study of journalists while on assignment in Ethiopia to cover its invasion by Italy. The translation is by Google.

In a story on the BBC’s news website, it is announced that Belgium joins several other countries, including Britain (1982)  and the United States (2006), in terminating its telegram service. The importance of telegrams in previous times is recalled by references to their use as a cryptic literary device:

When Evelyn Waugh was despatched to Africa to cover the war in Abyssinia for the Daily Mail in the 1930s he displayed the kind of linguistic ingenuity to be expected from a great English novelist. Finding it necessary to kill a story which said that an American nurse had been blown up in the town of Adowa, Waugh managed it in a message back to London consisting of just two words: ‘Nurse Unupblown’.

The quote is from Waugh’s book Waugh in Abyssinia.

Oxford University Press is selling all 5 published or scheduled volumes of the Complete Works of Evelyn Waugh at 1/2 price for a limited time. This includes v. 26 which is essays, articles and reviews 1922-34 to be released in February-March. Some of the published volumes are currently out of stock in the USA but OUP will ship them when available at the reduced price. The discount is valid for both US and UK sales and will continue thru 12 January 2018.  See this link.


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