Dog Days Roundup

–Musician Johnny Greenwood, composer and lead guitarist of the veteran rockband Radiohead, was recently interviewed by the Times newspaper. In answer to their request to identify his favorite writer he again named Evelyn Waugh and declared Sword of Honour as his favorite book:

Q. My favourite author or book

A. Evelyn Waugh’s Sword of Honour trilogy. The sardonic humour feels very truthful: Captain Crouchback is passed over for promotion, but it’s OK because he’s “a good loser — or, at any rate, an experienced one”. But to mention someone different, how about Stefan Zweig’s Beware of Pity?

That is the same answer he gave over four years ago to the Guardian and more recently to Rolling Stone. See previous posts. He also remains a fan of poet and critic Clive James who is responsible for introducing him to Waugh’s works:

Q. The book I’m reading

A. I’m finishing an orchestral commission, so reading isn’t something I have time for. If I read it at all, it’s familiar essays by Clive James. […] He ties a lot of my cultural life together, […] illuminating things I already enjoy or leading me to new interests.

–Candace Bushnell, author of, inter alia, Sex and the City, was recently interviewed by the website Shelf-Awareness. She named Evelyn Waugh as one of her five favorite authors, along with Thomas Mann and Leo Tolstoy.

The Times has also noticed a new book by Stephen Hoare. This is reviewed by Roger Lewis and is entitled Palaces of Power: The Birth and Evolution of London’s Clubland. Lewis opens by noting that where there were once over 400 such institututions, the number today has dropped to about 50.

A decline set in after the First World War, however, when a generation of members or potential members was slaughtered. Between the wars clubland went further out of favour as Edward, Prince of Wales, led the fashion for nightclubs, jazz and dancing to gramophone records. Also, as we see in the antics of Evelyn Waugh’s characters, the sexes wanted to mix.

During the Second World War, however, clubs were a cheaper option than hotels, and rooms were booked up months in advance by overseas delegations, Whitehall politicians and military personnel. […] If they have survived it is because, Hoare argues, they are “a symbol of good taste” and “kept faith with the past” by retaining a hint of Edwardian formality…

Waugh was at one time or another a member of the Savile, St James’s, White’s and Pratt’s clubs.

The Spectator has an article in its Coffee House section about Alexander Waugh’s decision to stand for parliament as a Brexit party candidate. This is by William Cook who is also the editor of a collection of Auberon Waugh’s writings, Kiss Me Chudleigh. He describes Alexander as the party’s “most illustrious candidate.” In addition to information already noted elsewhere, Cook offers the following analysis of how Alexander’s candidacy might fare:

Does Alexander stand any chance of winning? Stranger things have happened, and with four parties competing head-to-head the next election promises to be uniquely unpredictable. However the arithmetic is against him. The sitting Conservative MP, Ian Liddell-Grainger, is defending a 15,448 majority, and his record on Brexit hardly gives Alexander much traction. He backed Leave in the 2016 Referendum – no Remoaner, he. At the last election, Labour came a distant second, the Liberal Democrats a poor third and Ukip lost its deposit. Could Alexander split the Brexit vote, and let in a Remainer? With the national polls split four ways, anything seems possible.

If that unintended consequence came to pass, Alexander’s father would surely be spinning in his grave – with laughter. It would excite his sense of humour, his love of the absurd. A rebel in a tweed suit, Auberon was gloriously unpredictable, and one of the opinions which continues to surprise so many of his admirers was his unstinting support for the EU…

–The Financial Times has article about outdoor dining in style. This is by Luke Edward Hall and opens with this:

Is there any such thing as a stylish picnic?
“Charles! You’re to come away at once. I’ve got a basket of strawberries and a bottle of Château Peyraguey, which isn’t a wine you’ve ever tasted so don’t pretend.”

I have always loved this Brideshead Revisited line, and the picnic scene from the 1980s television series, adapted from Evelyn Waugh’s novel, has long given me aesthetic inspiration. There is nothing more delicious on a summer’s afternoon than gathering essentials, packing provisions, travelling to meet friends or family at some special place then whiling the hours away eating, drinking, napping, reading and swimming (if you’re lucky) on repeat.

–Yesterday (18 August) was St Helen’s Day in the western Christian Church. This is marked on the Weblog of Amy Welborn by the reposting of an article first published last year on this date. In it she explains how her religious publishing house was able to issue an edition of Waugh’s novel Helena, which he claimed was his favorite of all his novels, when the book fell out of print in the USA. She also posts a long excerpt of the introduction by George Weigel for that edition. See previous post.

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