Having recovered from the news deluge of the USA midterm elections, we can now return to coverage of matters Wavian:
–The big story in British journalism earlier this week was Paul Dacre’s valedictory address as editor of the Daily Mail, as he moves over to a corporate managerial position in the paper’s owner, Associated Newspapers. Most coverage of his speech focused on his perceived need to regulate digital news sources such as Facebook, Google and Apple instead of picking on print media such as the Daily Mail. The unregulated online news coverage is seen by him as full of fake news and biased political stories. He seems to offer this in contrast to the “regulated” and, presumably, unbiased coverage that appears in the print media, such as the Daily Mail. (I must have missed that unbiased edition of the Mail, but then I don’t read it every day.) He also takes the opportunity to criticize the occasional rogue journalist that may be employed by one of his fellow like-minded newspapers, bringing Evelyn Waugh into that discussion:
One-time Maxwell henchman, Roy Greenslade, Editor of the Mirror during the “Spot the Ball” game scam, has reinvented himself as a Professor of Journalism. That such a mountebank teaches ethics is a satirical commentary on academia that the combined talents of Jonathan Swift and Evelyn Waugh would struggle to do justice to.
The Greenslade reference is explained in Wikipedia:
While editor of the Daily Mirror, Greenslade was at the centre of a controversy after he rigged a competition in the paper to make sure it was unwinnable. He admitted his behaviour in October 2011 at a seminar at the Leveson Inquiry: ″On behalf of my proprietor Robert Maxwell I fixed a game offering a million pounds to anyone who could spot the ball and ensured that no-one won. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa.″
Greenslade has gone over to what Dacre perceives to be the other side; he now writes for the Guardian (target of Dacre’s sharpest criticism among the print media) and teaches journalism at the City University. One wonders how Dacre himself would fare if examined by such as Swift or Waugh.
–An art movie venue in Amsterdam (Filmhuis Cavia) offered this description of the Hollywood film adaptation of The Loved One in its announcment of a screening of the film that took place last Tuesday:
This is a perfect example of loads of movies that once existed: films that satirized the American way of life and lambasted the entire patriotic, pro-war, pro-business landscape of America. It is the kind of biting satire that has been suspiciously missing from Hollywood cinema for the last 40 years. The closest thing I can think of is John Waters, but his films miss the edgy social criticism.
It is perhaps the amazing cast that helps make this insane, out-of-control movie so special… Rod Steiger as Mr.Joyboy, one of the creepiest morticians you will ever hope to see. His performance is sheer brilliance. But we also have Sir John Gielgud, Tab Hunter, Roddy McDowall, James Colburn – and the one and only, gay icon Liberace. The entire film explodes in a great climax, both poetic and sharply critical at the same time. Expect a wild runaway horse, the kind of film that bolts and bucks, and you have to just hold on as tight as you fucking can.
–An article (“It’s not ‘Just a pet'”) in the suburban Chicago paper, the Daily Herald, discusses how its readers should cope with grieving for a deceased pet. In the context of her article, the reporter mentions Waugh’s 1948 novel:
Evelyn Waugh, the infamous British humorist, wrote a novel about pet cemeteries called The Loved One, many years ago. It was poking fun at the great lengths people will go to memorialize their pets, and about all the expense involved in pet care, pet cemeteries, etc. When I was much younger and didn’t understand, I thought it was funny indeed. And we used to marvel at the two huge aisles in the grocery store devoted to pet supplies, pet food, pet toys. But of course, now I do understand — we take care of them, love them, and the death of a pet is very sad to their humans. And I don’t bat an eyelash paying a vet for medical care. And I would buy a gravestone or other memorial.
–The magazine History Today offers an article on kedgeree that provides an explanation of the source, recipes for and importance of that smoked-fish dish to British cuisine. This appears in the magazine’s “Historian’s Cookbook” column:
By the early 20th century, [kedgeree had become] associated not only with aristocratic tastes, but also with extravagance, even decadence. In Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited (1945), for example, Charles Ryder orders salmon kedgeree after beginning an adulterous affair on board an ocean-liner. Similarly, in his memoirs, Anthony Powell shares the amazement of a Sheffield fishmonger when Edith Sitwell attempted to buy a salmon ‘for making kedgeree’ at the height of the Second World War (‘Had the days of the Bourbons returned?’).
–The Irish fashion and design magazine Image carries on its website a selection of the 40 books one should read before reaching the age of 40. The selection criteria are briefly described by writer Sophie White before she launches the list:
Initially I tried to limit the inclusions by utilising sub headings. I opted for Heavy Hitters, Thinkers and Bangers as my categories. Heavy Hitters being the big ‘uns, the Dickens, Dostoevskys and De Beauvoirs, the Thinkers being the ones that ain’t pretty necessarily, but leave you changed none the less. … The Bangers are what it says on the tin – books you’ll return to again and again. The Joy-givers, the comfort-reads and the day makers – basically anything by Marian Keyes, Donna Tartt and Evelyn Waugh.
Here’s the description of her Waugh selection:
Brideshead Revisited. A tale of nostalgia, faded glamour and unrequited love. Waugh’s classic made Jeremy Irons an unlikely sex symbol and solidified our obsession with the doomed Marchmain family.
It should be noted that Waugh’s book is the only one from a writer of his interwar generation to make the list.
–The Italian language religious website Radio Spada is offering a series of translations into Italian of Waugh’s writings on the Second Vatican Council. Here’s a translation of an excerpt from the article announcing this project:
…until the end of his days…Waugh and a few others fought with articles, armed only with a typewriter, [waging] a daily battle against rampant heterodoxy. Also in his powerful collection of letters – published in 1980 and edited by Mark Amory – several letters can be found that deal more or less directly with the issues debated at the Council. In 1996 these letters were assembled by Alcuin Reid in a small volume, A Bitter Trial, subsequently expanded and republished in second edition in 2011 by Ignatius Press. This column, which debuts with this article, wants to present for the first time to the Italian public the more significant excerpts from Waugh’s epistles on the Second Vatican Council. What will emerge is a scathing portrait, never banal, with viriolic opinions, crossed by the same satirical vein that is the characteristic feature of the novels of the English writer. On the other hand, it is well known that in the face of misfortune it is sometimes better to laugh than to cry.
The translation into English is by Google with minor edits.