Weekend Roundup: Brideshead to the Fore

Two bloggers have posted reviews of the new Folio Society edition of Brideshead Revisited (mentioned in a previous post):

–Adam on roofbeamreader.com was sent a review copy and expressed his gratitude accordingly:

I’m drawn in by the incredible cover art and the interior illustrations that The Folio Society are known for, and one  thing I truly appreciate about their editions is the thought and design they put into their sturdy slipcovers. This particular design is one of the more stunning from any Folio Society I’ve seen, which is saying something!…

This new edition from The Folio Society is illustrated with wood-engravings by award-winning artist Harry Brockway. His stylized scenes perfectly evoke Brideshead and its characters’ devil-may-care lives. Brockway also designed the striking binding art – a languid portrait for the front and subtle motifs of swirling cigarette smoke on the back.

In the newly commissioned introduction to this edition, award-winning novelist A. N. Wilson writes of the ache for an aesthetically purer past and how Brideshead represent the idea of a balanced, crafted and ‘above all, enjoyable’ novel.

–On the website entertainment-focus.com Greg Jameson also praises the new edition and nostalgically reviews the story:

This hardback edition from The Folio Society is sumptuously illustrated by Harry Brockway in 1920s Art Deco style woodcuts. The front cover depicts Charles and Sebastian enjoying cigarettes and Chateau Peyraguey, Brideshead nestled in the hills behind them, and there are six further full-page pictures from key moments in the text. It also features an introduction from author and columnist AN Wilson.

Both posts contain well-defined reproductions of the illustrations from this new edition which display a certain hard but Art Decoish charm.

–On the conservative website Semi-Partisan Politics, blogger Samuel Hooper deconstructs an interview by Fareed Zakaria in the Washington Post of the singer Bono from the Irish group U2 who is tracked down in Kiev. The subject of the interview and the article is:

the rising backlash against years of technocratic supranational rule which favored delivering a stream of perks and opportunities to urban cognitive elites while leaving the rest of their citizens to face the vagaries of globalization, automation, outsourcing and supranationalism unsupervised, unrepresented and unprotected.

After castigating both Zakaria and Bono for their opposition to the populist political movements that form the core of this backlash, the blogger closes with a quote from Evelyn Waugh:

Fareed Zakaria will no more learn about the origins of and solutions to populism from Bono than he will learn about bioethics from Justin Bieber. That he felt no sense of shame putting his name to this execrable article in the Washington Post leaves me with a feeling of profound frustration and despair. In the words of Evelyn Waugh, “They were too old and they didn’t know and they wouldn’t learn. That’s the truth.”

The quote is from Brideshead Revisitd in the scene where Charles Ryder’s scout, Lunt, is referring to the soldiers who flocked into Oxford after WWI and destroyed traditions such as Eights Week which is at that moment being rather riotously celebrated in the quad of Charles’ college. (Revised Edition, 1960, p. 30).

–In an op-ed column in the New York Times (“A Nuclear Bomb inside the Vatican”), Jennifer Finney Boylan is reminded of Waugh during a trip to Italy with her wife:

We were in Italy to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary — 12 years as husband and wife and, after my coming out as trans in 2000, 18 as wife and wife. Over the course of two weeks, we had hiked the Cinque Terre, taken a boat to Portofino and swum in the Mediterranean off a crag in the harbor of Santa Margherita Ligure. Each day was a precious gift. I often thought of Evelyn Waugh’s description of two other lovers lost in Italy: “The fortnight in Venice passed quickly and sweetly — perhaps too sweetly; I was drowning in honey, stingless.”

The quote is from Brideshead Revisited (1960, p. 114). The article concludes in the Vatican Museum where Boylan is annoyed by being required to buy a scarf to cover her arms.

Penguin Books has conducted a poll of its readers to see which books on its current list are their favorites. How the survey was conducted is not explained, although the fact that the comments posted in support of reader choices come from Twitter and Facebook provides a clue. Two of Waugh’s novels make Penguin’s top 100 must-read list: Brideshead Revisited and Scoop.

–The Brideshead days, although not the novel itself, are evoked on the books blog, The Captive Reader, where the memoir entitled The Pebbled Shore by Elizabeth Longford is described. The reviewer came to Longford’s memoir while reading the memoirs of one of her daughters, Antonia Fraser. Longford is described as

“the Zuleika Dobson of her day, with undergraduates and even dons tumbling over one another to fall in love with her”, and it is not hard to imagine that her fresh good looks, intelligence, and enthusiasm for life would have been an irresistible combination.

Waugh knew both Elizabeth and her husband, then Frank Pakenham (who later unexpectedly inherited as the Earl of Longford), at Oxford. When they married…

Evelyn Waugh, catty and snobbish as usual, referred to them the next year as the “poor Frank Pakenham who married beneath him and the Hon. Mrs P who married above herself” but the couple, like all sensible people, ignored him.  Waugh would view them much more positively decades later once they had both converted to his beloved Catholicism.

The quote is from a gossipy 1932 letter Waugh wrote to Dorothy Lygon (Letters, 62)

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