–In the current issue of TLS, Michael Caines reviews a short book of poetry parodies entitled Poets Cornered by Mark Handley:
Via chronological hops the collection proceeds from Chaucer (“to Spayne the pilgrims wende / A wholly blysseful suntanne for to seke”) as far as Philip Larkin (“She winds you up, your better half”). It includes a lukewarm essay in Pope’s mock-heroic mode, a translation of the Ancient Mariner into an Ancient Undergraduate, and Christmas as a Keatsian affair (“Season of pistes and frightful hollowness”) […] Consistently charming, however, are Handley’s linocuts, several of them of writers known more for prose than verse: the Iris Murdoch of The Sea, The Sea, masked as a Neptune and suitably armed for the role; Virginia Woolf smoking a pipe (“very soothing”, she apparently said of that habit); Evelyn Waugh with an ear trumpet; Georgette Heyer, for some reason, on a page opposite Handley’s take on Tamburlaine.
A copy of the Waugh and Virginia Woolf linocuts are reproduced in another review appearing in The Lettering Arts Trust journal. The book is not currently available from Amazon or other online sources and seems to be sold out elsewhere as well. It is published by a small house called Ye Fulle Bore Presse and copies may be ordered directly from them: (click to email). See comment below.
—The Spectator has an article on ideal literary-themed picnic sites. Among those selected is this:
Book: Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
‘I’ve got a motor-car and a basket of strawberries and a bottle of Château Peyraguey,’ announces Sebastian Flyte in Evelyn Waugh’s classic – which sounds like the perfect picnic to us. Although you may want more than strawberries to soak up the wine if you’re driving. Oxford’s Port Meadow, common land beside the river Thames (or Isis, as it is here) is as dreamily romantic a picnic spot as you can find: long grass, wild horses and the dreaming spires in the distance. The Perch is a 17th century tavern by the water with an outdoor bar and a huge garden, a twenty-minute stroll from the town centre.
The accompanying photo is a bit misleading, however, because it shows the Radcliffe Camera bracketed by Brasenose and All Souls Colleges. It seems doubtful that the proctors would allow picnics on the small plot of land appearing in the photo.
Another site recommended is associated with Kenneth Graham’s The Wind and the Willows:
Still the archetypal picnic for anyone who read this book as a child, Mole and Ratty’s picnic on the river has an innocence and universal appeal that can be recreated anywhere.
This is illustrated by a photo of the River Cam along the backs of colleges in Cambridge, whereas I was under the impression that the river stretch that inspired Graham was the Thames between Oxford and Marlow.
–A filmblog specializing in classic movies has posted a profile of actor Edward Woodward who died 10 years ago. It starts the review of his career with this:
Edward Woodward began his acting career by working in theatre and television. He first gained recognition with his performance as Guy Crouchback, in the 1967 BBC television adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s trilogy, Sword Of Honour.
That six hour, three episode production is occasionally shown by the BFI and is available for individual viewing in their premises but is not accessible online from the BBC archives or retail digital media, probably due to “copyright” issues; or wasn’t the last time I looked.
The prose is just a delight, wrong-footing the reader at every turn. The adjectives clash against the verbs, the names are sometimes wryly funny until the unexpected happens. My favourite line was: “My Father said a town was only as interesting as its bad apples and only as safe as its lunatics.” Second place would go to: “I told her that Evelyn Waugh’s first wife had also been named Evelyn and that the guy who voiced the Bugs Bunny cartoon had been allergic to carrots.” There is a smart-ass raised eye-brow in this, but with a deep emotional ache at its heart. Say the smart thing because you cannot bear to say the truth of a gruesome universe.
“Original Prin,” Randy Boyagoda’s third novel, is an original animal, a comedy of literary and cultural references, with wordplay involving unfunny matters like cancer, a crisis of faith and Islamic terrorism, as well as easier comedic subjects like juice-box fatherhood and academic power plays […] There are references throughout to those who were likely Boyagoda’s influences: Kingsley Amis (Prin’s comically domineering father is named Kingsley), Evelyn Waugh, Vladimir Nabokov, Thomas Pynchon and David Foster Wallace. Most of this is clever, often ingenious, but the frequency of one-liners works against the novel’s trajectory. The comedic exit ramps feel like authorial escapes, as if we can’t go more than a page or two before the next absurdity, and so we’re less involved in Prin’s journey, and more aware of Boyagoda’s restless intellect.
UPDATE (3 June 2019): The publisher of the book of parodies Poets Cornered has supplied their address for those wanting to purchase copies: (click to email) See comment below.