4th of July Roundup

–Duncan McLaren has added a coda to his recent posting about Waugh’s friendship (if that’s the right word) with Cyril Connolly. Duncan’s article is entitled “Cyril in Full Flow” and  is based on a visit Cyril made to Berlin in 1928. This time he imagines a discussion between Waugh and Nancy Mitford based on her recent reading of an article by Cyril in a 1930 issue of Life and Letters. It reports a conversation between X, Y and Z, of whom Cyril was one and Harold Nicolson and Raymond Mortimer were the other two. Here’s an excerpt:

Nancy: OK, Cyril’s title: ‘Conversations in Berlin’. Cyril begins by telling the reader that in his text, X is the host, while Y and Z are guests. And that Z’s talk is not so well recorded as Cyril’s own.”

Evelyn: “What about X and Y? Is their talk recorded just as well as Cyril’s?”

Nancy: “Good point. Y hardly features. And there is no reason to suppose X’s talk has been recorded any better than Z’s.”

Evelyn: “Typical Cyril. Smart but shoddy. […] Sharp as a tack but barmy as a fruit cake.”

Nancy: “I am going to start: ‘We had some interesting talks in Berlin. One night we discussed ourselves when young, at what age we should like most now to have met ourselves, and where. X described himself motor-cycling in Germany and held up two days forlornly in Dortmund. I would like to have come across myself at eighteen: droll, earnestly decadent, and rather birdlike among the second-hand bookstalls at Cologne. Z deplored one’s shyness at that age, and we all admitted that at a time when we were longing for intelligent conversations with people older than ourselves we had been too gauche to begin them, and reduced to getting stones from schoolmasters as our only intellectual bread. I said this did not really matter. Youth was a period of misadventure, and should only be enjoyed as such. The long line of missed opportunities were more rich and significant in their maladroitness than the competent never-miss-a-moment grasping philosophy of late youth and middle age…’ I’ll pause there. That gives us enough to get our teeth into, does it not?”

Cyril’s article is also collected in The Condemned Playground published in 1945. But you probably do not need to read the original to enjoy the discussion of it by Waugh and Mitford as presented by Duncan.

–The Cecil Beaton’s Bright Young Things exhibition, scheduled earlier this year at the National Porait Gallery but postponed due to the Wuhan coronovirus epidemic, may now have to be postponed indefinitely or, worse yet, cancelled. See previous posts. According to the NPG’s webpage and a notice on the ArtUK website, the NPG is now closed until 2023. Here’s the opening of the ArtUK article:

The National Portrait Gallery in London is closed until 2023 for a major refurbishment and a redisplay of the collection. Before the Gallery closed due to Covid-19 on 17th March 2020, it had just opened the exhibition ‘Cecil Beaton’s Bright Young Things‘ on 12th March. It explored the world of the infamous bohemian group of socialites, through the illustrious lens of the famed British photographer.

The article by Philomena Epps contains many Beaton photographs already displayed in previous articles relating to the exhibition but also includes some artwork that has not been previously circulated. One may hope that an alternative venue can be found, but there is no suggestion in the article that an announcement is imminent.

–The Catholic Herald recently posted a brief, humorous article “In defence of Catholic Snobbery” by Violet Hudson:

In the UK, we have scant little to be snobbish about – our churches tend to be modern and un-romantic, our hymns are dire compared with rousing Protestant numbers, our history is one of persecution and secrecy.[…] Evelyn Waugh is one of the most famous Catholics in this country’s post-Reformation history, and his Catholicism is synonymous with his ardent love for a big house and a delightfully dysfunctional family.  […]

When we think snobbery and British Catholicism we are thinking of the Anglo-Catholicism of Brideshead, of Cardinal Newman, of Jacobite Lairds and priest holes carved into Elizabethan oak. But the vast majority of Catholics in this country are immigrants from the Irish and Polish traditions – and even combined, we make up less than ten per cent of the population.[…]

All things considered, the CH article concludes: “we Catholics welcome all: the very antithesis of snobbery.”

–In one of what must be Roman Catholicism’s more remote outposts in North America (the Diocese of Gallup, New Mexico) a new director of religious education has been appointed. This is Kathleen Zelasko who was interviewed by the diocesan newspaper, Voice of the Southwest. Here’s an excerpt from the Q&A:

Do you have a favorite book or author?

My favorite book is Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh. When I was in low times – it reaches everyone. There’s a character in there that can reach everyone. It’s just a beautiful book.

It is perhaps worth recalling that the Diocese of Gallup falls within the territory of what may the oldest Roman Catholic jurisdiction in the United States with its archbishop in Santa Fe. Early missions date back as far as the 16th century. A 19th Century incumbent was once the subject of a novel by Willa Cather.

–Finally, the British singer-songwriter Maisie Peters is interviewed in the music news journal Atwoodsmagazine.com. She got her start in 2017 by posting her work on YouTube and has since released two EPs on Atlantic Records UK. She has also started a book club which is a subject raised in the interview


Maisie Peters: Yeah, it’s crazy. I’m doing it with a friend of mine called Abby who’s in publishing, and we’ve been friends for like 5 years now. So that’s really special because we get to work together. She’s in the world of publishing, so she’s been able to suggest books. […]  I’m reading so many books. I just finished a book called “A Handful of Dust” by Evelyn Waugh. It’s super old; I think it literally came out in thirty. It’s honestly amazing. I was kind of unconvinced for the first third then the last two-thirds are wild. Honestly, the ending is like one of the most disturbing and chilling things I’ve ever read. If you read it, you’ll read the first third and be like why the f**k did Maisie recommend this? Then you’ll read to the end and but like oh god, this is really insane. But now, I’ve got to choose what to read next and I’ve four different ones to pick. It’s so stressful.

It was published in 1934.


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