Latest EW Studies Features New Views of Brideshead

The latest issue of the Society’s journal Evelyn Waugh Studies has been published (Number 48.3, Winter 2017).

The lead article, Brideshead Rearranged: Charm, Grace, and Waugh’s Building of Worlds, by Grazie Sophia Christie, is the winner of the 2017 John Howard Wilson Jr Evelyn Waugh Undergraduate Essay Contest administered by the Society. The contents of this issue are set out below. Selected introductory paragraphs from each article (citations and footnotes omitted) have been included. The full contents are available at this link.


Brideshead Rearranged: Charm, Grace, and Waugh’s Building of Worlds                            by Grazie Sophia Christie

Introduction. In the process of writing on Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited I began to notice affinities between the novel’s narrator, Captain Charles Ryder, and myself.  Ryder is an artist: he publishes “splendid folios” of English architecture headed for “extinction,” of “gutted palaces and cloisters” in Mexico and Central America. Wading into Waugh’s starfish-and-sea-glass prose, I am similarly intent on identifying elements and processes of construction…My architectural analysis will begin with the etymological relationship between charm and grace, the foundation for Waugh’s suggestion that the two should be constructed similarly. I will then examine the charming world of the Flytes, and the pastiche that marks Waugh’s mode of fashioning it for the reader. Turning to performance and theatricality in the novel, I will analyze the figure of Anthony Blanche as a representation of grace’s capacity for this same inclusion and rearrangement. My paper will close by analyzing unhappiness in the novel as a symptom of what it means to pursue a conversion that fails at pastiche, that builds a world of faith where charm and other objects of human happiness are excluded. Waugh’s own biography and engagement with literary tradition reveals the ways that Brideshead is full of unfulfilled potentialities for happiness through refashioning that Ryder never takes. Ryder gives up human happiness for divine contentment, but this is an unnecessary sacrifice. It is a failure of design of Ryder’s own making, not a central component of Waugh’s understanding of conversion.

Waugh and the Profession  by  Robert Murray Davis

Introduction. My invitation to speak at this symposium said that I might discuss first, “how the academic environment has evolved” and second, “whether responses to the challenges faced by the humanities that have emerged during the course of my career have been encouraging or inadequate.” After a little reflection I realized that, like the elder Plant in Work Suspended, “I am a Dodo.” Both my research and the challenges facing the profession can be understood by comparing the demographic, political, and economic factors that influenced me with those affecting my successors.

“The highest achievement of man:” Evelyn Waugh Preaching Divine Purpose through Temporal Creations  by Maria Salenius

Introduction. The purpose of this article is to explore some of the rhetorical choices made by Waugh in the text of A Handful of Dust  as well as in Brideshead Revisited, with special reference to changes made between the first edition and the second of the latter, specifically from the point of view of rendering the aspect of divine guidance and conversion. Between the first and the final edition of Brideshead Revisited, Waugh made several versions and worked fervently on the language as well as the structure of the novel. In addition to purely literary aims, it seems evident that Waugh is presenting his “magnum opus” as a treatise of the Catholic faith, and the climax of the death of Lord Marchmain and the subsequent conversion of the agnostic Charles Ryder, is foregrounded with ample rhetorical device. A Handful of Dust, too, saw a number of revisions and restructurings, especially when negotiating between the serialised and the book-form publication of the novel. Looking at the final forms of both novels within the context of structural symbolism shows the use of a similar method, and alludes to a similar aim. A Handful of Dust “looks ahead to Waugh’s explorations… of the interrelated order of nature and grace”, and Waugh stated as the primary aim of Brideshead Revisited “to trace the workings of the divine purpose in a pagan world”.


 “Through the Glass of a Tank”– Anthony Powell: Dancing to the Music of Time, by Hilary Spurling.  Reviewed by Jeffrey Manley


Among the news items is the announcement of a recently published short work entitled Lost Domains & Worlds Regained: Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited. This is by David Fensome and is available in Kindle editions from Amazon at these links in both the USA and UK. Here’s an excerpt from the Amazon description:

The argument is straightforward: in Evelyn Waugh’s journey into isolation, Brideshead Revisited marks the spot where he cut his ties with the twentieth century: when he and his epoch began to travel in different directions. In terms of subject and theme, and matters of style the novel stands alone in his body of work; it assured his reputation as a best-selling author, while simultaneously condemning him to critical dismissal by previously admiring critics and commentators. …This book can be split into two parts. The first part, sections one to four, attempts to place the novel in its historical context and also within Waugh’s oeuvre; to offer an insight into Waugh’s life and preoccupations when he is engaged in writing the novel; and to summarise the critical response. The second part, section five presents ten approaches to the text from a variety of biographical and theoretical perspectives. These are offered as preliminary sketches of perhaps much longer pieces. They are included to suggest points of departure for approaches to Waugh, his work, and those aspects of his thinking and instincts which contributed to his art in general, and Brideshead Revisited specifically…

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