Waughs: Comedy and Fitness

An article has been posted entitled “Evelyn Waugh’s Comic Muse in Scoop”. This is by Dr Robert Hickson and is available on the weblog Catholicism.org. The article opens with the posting of Waugh’s introduction to the 1963 edition of Scoop followed by Dr Hickson’s own introductory paragraph to the article:

Such candid words are a worthy introduction and framing for the especially comic presentation of one extended passage from Scoop, a passage which is to be found and savored near the end of the novel. This very passage will also provide the main focus of this appreciative essay, which proposes thereby even to enhance our own warm-hearted and generous comic sensibilities.

A PDF file of the article follows just below this introduction and is seamlessly accessible in the website. It is, for the most part, extended excerpts from the last part of Waugh’s novel: “Book Three: Banquet”. These include Dr Hickson’s own highlighting of what he considers the comic parts of the text and bracketed elucidations of some of the references.

Also in the news is Evelyn Waugh’s granddaughter, novelist Daisy Waugh. She appears in a Daily Mail article about the recognition by middle-aged women of the importance of keeping fit. Daisy is one of three women who appear in photographs and explain why and how they manage to maintain their fitness. Daisy’s segment opens with this:

In my early 20s I preferred to keep as motionless as possible — except to empty an overflowing ashtray or, if drunk, to dance. I barely moved my body at all…So what happened? As I neared 40, somewhere between having three children and sitting at home in front of my computer, day after day, I got sick of the hangovers; of feeling fatter and slower than I wanted; of the disgusting taste of cigarettes in my mouth every morning. And the bad habits dropped away. A decade or so later, I may even be the fittest person I know. I still smoke, at parties, and I still drink — but not much. And because, as a novelist, I still work alone and from home, it is easy — not to say essential — to break up each silent writing day with a burst of exercise. I look forward to it.

She misses the chance to plug her latest novel but that’s not really the point of the Mail’s article. Her grandfather’s idea of keeping fit was to retire occasionally to a health spa in an effort to lose weight. One cannot imagine him (or any of his contemporaries for that matter) running through the English countryside to achieve that result.

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