Terence Greenidge and Degenerate Oxford?

Peter Harrington Booksellers in London are listing a copy of the 1930 book by Terence Greenidge entitled Degenerate Oxford? A Critical Study of Modern University Life. He is also credited with several later books in his Wikipedia entry, including fiction, poetry and drama. He was a year ahead of Evelyn Waugh at Hertford College, but they were fairly close friends. They collaborated on the film The Scarlet Woman in 1924 which Greenidge produced and directed from a script written by Waugh and in which Waugh played two parts. Waugh is also listed as having appeared in two other Greenidge films made about this same time; these are entitled 666 and Mummers.

Waugh reviewed Greenidge’s book about Oxford in the Fortnightly Review (March 1930) and declared it a “treatise” as distinguished from the novels many of his friends were writing at the time. In the review, Waugh describes Greenidge as a prominent member of the University during his student days “in athletic, intellectual and social circles.” He goes on to note some of Greenidge’s more eccentric characteristics: “…he usually carried about with him a large tobacco tin, his razor and his tooth-brush, several books and an assortment of whatever of his own and his friends’ possessions excited his momentary interest.”

The review describes the book as “a thorough and unsophisticated examination of the nature and value of Oxford education.” Waugh comments specifically on the sections dealing with Athletes (“sound and witty”), Aesthetes (“good up to a point”) and the university authorities  (“will probably excite most discussion”). He takes issue with Greenidge on one question: “I could do with more plain speaking about homo-sexuality. By his implied assumption that homo-sexual relations among undergraduates are merely romantic and sentimental he seems to avoid the most important questions at issue.” Waugh’s review is collected in Essays, Articles and Reviews 1922-1934 (CWEW v26), p. 208. Waugh also wrote about Greenidge at some length in his autobiography A Little Learning.

The Peter Harrington copy of Greenidge’s book is described as “good” and has what looks like a largely intact dustwrapper. Less expensive copies are also available from Amazon traders.

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