Roundup: Vile Media

The magazine GQ India had an article about Asian-based novels satirizing Asian-based rich people. This opens with a reference to one of Waugh’s novels:

It is an unassailable truth that where there is money, a thinly veiled roman-à-clef documenting the lives of the one per cent is not far away. It has been proven time and time again in the West – from Vile Bodies by Evelyn Waugh in 1930, to the more recent Primates Of Park Avenue by Wednesday Martin. But as Asia ascends, and its people join the ranks of the global wealthy elite, so too does a whole new literary genre: the one percenters of the East.  Already, Singapore’s Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians trilogy has achieved cult-like status for its dizzying depictions of the manic spending by the super-rich of Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Most of the remainder of the article discusses Kwan’s books which were mentioned here in a previous post.

The English Department at the University of Regina in Canada is offering a course this Fall that uses the same Waugh novel for a different purpose:

ENGL 110-397 Mass Media and Misinformation  WEB DELIVERED

This course will focus on literature that explores the troubled relationship between mass media and objective reality. To that end, we will study a variety of texts – including works as diverse as essays by George Orwell, Tom Rachman’s The Imperfectionists, Evelyn Waugh’s Vile Bodies, Terry Gilliam’s film adaptation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and episodes from the first season of Matthew Weiner’s long-form television series, Mad Men. Through such texts, we will approach representations of what Stephen Colbert refers to as “truthiness” in the context of totalitarianism, the gossip column, Gonzo journalism, the newsroom, and advertising.

Although not listed as the lecturer for this course, Marcel DeCoste, well known in this parish, is the head of the English Department and may well intend to contribute something.

The Guardian reviews the revived Universal Films 1932 horror classic The Old Dark House. In his review, Peter Bradshaw unearths some interesting literary connections:

Revisiting this film is a time to ponder its origins in a novel by JB Priestley (adapted by RC Sherriff and Benn Levy) and to see a literary lineage of the horror film, quite apart from Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley. You can see how the creepy brother Saul, lurking at the top of the house, is in a line that stretches from Charlotte Brontë’s madwoman in the attic to Thomas Harris’s imprisoned Hannibal Lecter, cunningly persuading people to do his bidding. And there’s a touch of Evelyn Waugh’s butler Philbrick from Decline and Fall as well.

The New Statesman in a review of a collection of short stories by a Peruvian writer–Daniel Alarcón, who writes in English–notes an analogy to another Waugh novel:

Alarcón saves his most overtly surreal writing for his final story, the outstanding “The Auroras”, a novella-length piece. Herman, a lecturer, takes a sabbatical from both his university and from his wife and stepson, arriving in a port city precisely “2,700 kilometres from home”. Almost immediately he is taken in by Clarissa, a sinuous beauty he first glimpses standing “against a wall as green as the sea”, whose sailor husband is away on a long voyage. The ensuing events with Clarissa and, one by one, her friends, occur in a fug of erotic disassociation, as Herman falls truly “out of his element, as he hoped he’d be”, although his final status recalls the delirium-soaked fate of Tony Last in Evelyn Waugh’s A Handful of Dust. It’s a magnetic piece in a collection that dazzles with allegorical power and satire.

The Catholic Herald mentions Waugh’s contribution to another sort of collection. This was the Gallery of Living Catholic Authors compiled by Sister Mary Joseph at Webster College near St Louis in the 1930s and 1940s:

By 1954, membership of the Gallery itself had climbed to 775. … The organisation was in possession of more than 60,000 pages of manuscript, 750 letters, photographs and voice recordings, and countless books, pamphlets and magazines. … Academy members included Hilaire Belloc, naturally, and Evelyn Waugh, who sent manuscript pages of Edmund Campion to form part of the Gallery’s collection of authors’ papers. … Other members included Clare Boothe Luce, … Thomas Merton, …  François Mauriac, Maria von Trapp and Fulton Sheen. … Jacques Maritain seems to have been a particularly strong champion of the Gallery…

The remainder of the story is behind a paywall but other sources relate that the Gallery soon exceeded the ambitions of Sister Mary Joseph and the resources of Webster College and in 1960 was transferred to Georgetown University where it is now part of their Special Collections. Waugh’s contribution of handwritten manuscript seems to be limited two pages of his text of Edmund Campion according to Georgetown’s catalogue.

This entry was posted in A Handful of Dust, Academia, Collections, Decline and Fall, Edmund Campion, Evelyn Waugh, Newspapers, Vile Bodies and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.