Book List Roundup: Wuhan Virus Edition

The unfilled hours produced by the disruptions of the Wuhan virus seem to call for more reading and, thus, have apparently inspired the compiling and posting of book lists. Several of these include books by Evelyn Waugh:

–The Milwaukee Magazine lists 9 Catholic books to read while you’re staying home from Mass. One of these is Brideshead Revisited:

I actually didn’t like this book that much. Sorry. But all the other Catholic book people really seem to be into it, so I guess it should be included on this list. It’s very English. Lot of fancy people and dinners and stuff. Also the big house is a metaphor for the Church. So there’s that.

Other more positively recommended books include The Seven-Story Mountain by Thomas Merton (which Waugh edited for the UK edition that was retitled Elected Silence), The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene, the Father Brown Stories by G K Chesterton (also featured in Brideshead)  and Love in the Ruins by Walker Percy.

Forbes Magazine recommends 10 “armchair travel books” to carry you through the epidemic. One is by Waugh:

When the Going Was Good, by Evelyn Waugh. This is a compilation of excerpts from four travel books that Waugh wrote between 1929 and 1935. He is forever the Englishman as outsider, but his observations, laced with a hearty dash of his class, cantankerous nature, and culture, are forever entertaining. His wit and sense of the absurd shine through, whether attending the coronation of Haile Selassie in Ethiopia or mucking through the jungle in Guiana.

Others include Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast and Jan Morris’s Trieste and the Meaning of Nowhere. For those who prefer complete texts, all four of the books excerpted in WGWG as well as two others are collected in the 2003 Everyman Library edition entitled Waugh Abroad.

–The Daily Telegraph provides lists of various forms of entertainment on various types of media (except books). In their television list chosen by Ben Lawrence they include the 1981 Granada TV adaptation of Brideshead Revisited:

The 1981 adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s novel was built to last. Jeremy Irons plays Charles Ryder, the outsider beholden to the dysfunctional aristocratic family of his dissolute friend Sebastian Flyte (Anthony Andrews).

It can be streamed on the BBC/ITV service Britbox in both the US and the UK. You might also have a look on It was available there a few weeks ago.

Esquire magazine reposts a list from 2009 of the 32 funniest books ever written. This is compiled from recommendations of contributors and editorial staff. Comedian Alexei Sayle proposed Waugh’s Vile Bodies:

It is a gift to the satirist to live in turbulent times but there still remains the task of encapsulating them. In Vile Bodies, an ostensibly superficial comic novel (Waugh wrote to Harold Acton, “It is a welter of sex and snobbery written simply in the hope of selling some copies”) Evelyn Waugh brilliantly, hilariously, unflinchingly but always humanely pinions a society which is in thrall to gossip and decadence, traumatised by war and financial catastrophe yet unable to stop itself rushing headlong into further and deeper cataclysm. This is a book as much for our age as for Waugh’s.

–While not in a book list, Dave Lull has sent this recommendation that appeared in a recent issue of the Catholic Herald:

A joyously satirical Cluedo game of a novel: In the Crypt with a Candlestick by Daisy Waugh. Waugh marries the best of Agatha Christie and PG Wodehouse in a joyous Cluedo-game of a novel, with props including the candlestick of the title, a vast pot of Crème de la Mer and a silver sugar pot with an irascible inhabitant. The book is sprinkled with in-jokes and literary allusions: a gamekeeper named Mellors, a great 20th-century novel called Prance to the Music in Time, and a character who wears a boater and carries a teddy bear (a reference to Waugh’s grandfather’s creation, Sebastian Flyte from Brideshead Revisited).

Thanks to Dave for sending this.

–A blogger posting on a local website unearthed a book list compiled by her US Navy veteran father. One contained a book with an entertaining chapter about an interview of Waugh in Baltimore during his 1949 US lecture tour:

“The Good Times” by Russell Baker. I’m not too surprised to find Baker’s second memoir on dad’s list, since he also served in the Navy and grew up in the Depression. […] According to the “Library Journal,” “Aspiring writers will chuckle over Baker’s first, horrible day on police beat, his panicked interview with Evelyn Waugh and his arrival at Queen Elizabeth’s coronation in top hat, tails, and brown-bag lunch.” Who doesn’t appreciate a man who brings a brown-bag lunch to the Queen’s coronation?

–Finally, Waugh’s French publisher Robert Laffont is releasing a new edition of Officiers et gentlemen next Thursday, 19 March 2020. This will be in the Pavillons Poche series. Here’s an edited Google translation of their announcement:

The second part of the trilogy devoted to the Second World War by the author of  Brideshead Revisited, this book finds  Guy Crouchback prey to the small and big ironies of war. Thanks to Churchill himself, he is reinstated in the army after the unfortunate ups and downs recounted in Men at Arms. And in an elite corps moreover! However, things will get worse again: in Scotland, in a commando camp, Guy finds the abominable Trimmer, an upstart who was the lover of his ex-wife. Sent to Egypt, he was appalled by the failings of the noble British army. Then it’s Crete, and another lost opportunity to show his bravery … It’s time for him to mourn his idealism. With the satirical tone and the acerbic humor which one associates with him, the great Evelyn Waugh describes a civilization in the grip of the sinking of its most fundamental values.


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