Waugh in Iberia

The Lisbon paper Diario de Noticias has begun the publication of a long article by Antonio Arauja entitled “Uma educação sentimental”. The paper is published weekly and the story’s first installment was printed in last week’s edition. It is essentially the story of how Waugh came to write Brideshead Revisited and seems to be based, at least in this installment, on Paula Byrne’s 2009 work Mad World, which is cited in the Portuguese text. The article begins with a brief history of Waugh’s childhood and education, linking episodes from life where relevant to elements of Brideshead. Much of the latter part of the installment describes the Lygon family and their lives at Madresfield House. The connections between characters in the novel and members of the family, particularly Hugh and Lord Beauchamp, are spelled out with some particularity.

The story is mostly familiar to readers knowing Waugh’s biography, particularly as relflected in Paula Byrnes’s book. There is, however, at least one ironic anecdote that was new to me:

Sometimes Evelyn Waugh was annoyed by his father’s theatricality, especially when he read passages from Dickens aloud. However, he would recall the beauty of the intonation of the father’s voice, which, he said, “was only surpassed by John Gielgud”. He started writing Brideshead Revisited less than a year after his father died, never knowing the fact that, many years after his own death, a television series based on the book would be made. This was in 1981, by Granada Television, and who should play the role of father of Charles Ryder, the alter ego of Evelyn Waugh, but … Sir John Gielgud.

The story is headed with a reproduction of the dust jacket of the first UK edition of the novel. This appears in the original English version. This seems an ambitious undertaking for a non-English language newspaper, but it is perhaps connected to some historic ties between Diario de Noticias and the British publishing industry dating back to DN‘s 19th century origins. The introduction of the novel to and critical acceptance by Portuguese readers has not yet been taken up, but this may come in a future installment. There is a record of a Portuguese language version of the novel dating back as far as 1982 (Reviver o passado em Brideshead). This may have coincided with a broadcast of the Granada TV series in a Portuguese version.

The Spanish daily newspaper La Opinion de Malaga has published a story entitled “Un hotel sevillano” (A Seville Hotel). This is a history and profile of a well-established Seville institution, the Hotel Alfonso XIII, and the article opens with a quote from Evelyn Waugh:

Evelyn Waugh, the British author of “Brideshead Revisited”, arrived in Seville in March 1929. He tells the story in “Labels”, a delicious travel book. The Andalusian city was his penultimate stopover aboard a Norwegian ship, the Stella Maris. It was very appreciated at that time by the most demanding travelers. They had sailed from Gibraltar. According to Waugh, the colony had seemed a sinister place, only bearable thanks to the romantic small cemetery on the Rock, in which a Christian burial was given to the remains of the English sailors who fell in the Battle of Trafalgar. When they anchored in the last navigable stretch of the Guadalquivir, at Seville, Waugh realized that he, who always hated superlatives, had been about to proclaim that Seville was the most beautiful place in the world.

The Hotel Alfonso XIII had opened its doors the previous year. This beautiful and unique hotel is, to this day, the property of the Seville City Council. It was and still is a gem. Its construction lasted 12 years. It was inaugurated on April 28, 1928 by Their Majesties the Kings Don Alfonso XIII and Doña Victoria Eugenia. It was […] created by the Sevillian architect Don José Espiau y Muñoz. It would be the ideal accommodation to host visitors from all over Spain and from Spanish-speaking America who would would come to Seville for the Spanish-American Exposition of 1929….

The juxtaposition of these paragraphs suggests that Waugh stayed in or at least had a meal or a drink at the hotel. But so far as appears in his book, he never stopped there. Since the cruise ship was docked in Seville he probably slept and ate most meals on it. He was much impressed by the city and by the Spanish-American Exhibition where he “spent a delightful afternoon in the two art galleries. One of these contained a remarkable collection of paintings by the Spanish masters–Valasquez, Zubaran, El Greco, Goya, and a great number whose names are not heard outside their country.” (Labels, p. 199)

Translation is by Google with some minor edits.

NOTICE (26 May 2020): The second part of the Portuguese language article described above (entitled “Uma educação sentimental”) that appeared in Diario de Noticias has been posted here. This deals primarily with the vendetta against Lord Beauchamp lead by the Duke of Westminster which lead to his exile.

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