Flag-Day Roundup

–A movie blog (SlashFilm.com) has posted a preview of a new TV adaptation under preparation for Netflix. This is based on the fantasy comics series The Sandman by Neil Gaiman. According to the report, the story has a Waugh connection:

This week, Netflix revealed a first look at its highly anticipated adaptation of Neil Gaiman‘s The Sandman comics — kind of. Rather, we saw a behind-the-scenes preview given by none other than Gaiman himself, who toured the U.K.-based Shepperton Studios where the fantasy-horror series is being made. And in that behind-the-scenes video, Gaiman was introduced to all sorts of props and pieces of concept art as he explored the set.

But were there any Easter eggs or details we could glean from the short behind-the-scenes video? More than you think.In one shot of Gaiman being shown the props from the TV series, we can see a copy of A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh […] The novel follows a man who is betrayed by his wife and joins an expedition to the jungle, only to find himself imprisoned by a madman — a nice parallel to the imprisonment of Dream (Tom Sturridge) at the beginning of the series by occultist Roderick Burgess (to be played by Game of Thrones‘ Charles Dance), the Lord Magus of the Order of the Ancient Mysteries. …

–Cecil Beaton’s biographer Hugo Vickers has written a memoir of his collection of research for the book about Beaton that was published in 1985. The memoir is entitled Malice in Wonderland  and is reviewed in The Spectator by Michael Arditti:

…his biography is both a measured account of Beaton’s myriad achievements as photographer, painter, designer and memoirist and a rounded portrait of his rich and at times rackety life. Thirty-six years on, Vickers has published the diaries written during his research for the book, in which gossip abounds.

Beaton himself was an astute, if waspish, diarist, who offended many by publishing six volumes of diaries in his lifetime. […] The range of Beaton’s activities may have led him to dilute his talents, but it introduced him to a far wider society than if he’d confined himself to one art form. So, Vickers encounters royalty, including the Queen Mother, whose wartime image Beaton played a large part in crafting. He visits the last of the Bright Young People, whom Beaton photographed in the 1920s, including Stephen Tennant, a portly recluse in his Wiltshire manor, and the Jungman sisters, once beloved by Evelyn Waugh, now fallen on hard times.

Vickers becomes a regular guest at aristocratic cocktail and house parties, and at times it is hard to tell the Lauras from the Loelias. He strikes genuine friendships with two of his hostesses. The first is Lady Diana Cooper, once described as ‘the least dumb blonde’, who greets him in bed, having instructed her maid to tell him not to look at her too closely, and whom he subsequently squires around town. The second is the 60-year-old Clarissa Avon, the widow of Anthony Eden, with whom his growing intimacy fuels rumours of an impending marriage…

US publication is scheduled for October.

–The books weblog Booktrib.com has an article by Judy Moreno about a literary theme called the “Failure to Launch Syndrome”. This is explained as follows:

Symptoms of Failure to Launch Syndrome vary but can include a lack of ambition (like not wanting to get a job), a reluctance to make decisions, a fear of commitment, and a resistance to making and sticking to plans. Apparently, it’s more common in males (I see you, Peter Pan), but there are plenty of women who struggle with it, too.

One of Waugh’s novels is included on the list. This is Brideshead Revisited:

Sebastian Flyte is a tragic character in this book so richly imagined that it’s been reinvented for the screen many times with yet another BBC remake planned for 2022. Sebastian isn’t the main character — that honor belongs to Charles  — but the former makes such an impression on the latter that it lives on with readers decades later. The two meet at Oxford college in England, and Sebastian seems utterly charming though admittedly devoid of responsibility and gravitas while blissfully ignorant of reality.

He never really grows out of his college state, though; in fact, even in college he totes around a beloved teddy bear he’s named Aloysius, so one might argue that he’s stunted in an even younger age. As he gets older in years, he gets no older in wisdom and tries to alleviate his increasing torments with alcohol. Eventually, he dies in destitution from his addiction, and Charles remains haunted by the memories of his old friend. Sebastian seems eerily reminiscent of what Peter Pan could have become if he’d been plucked from Neverland and placed into the circumstances of this novel instead.

YouTube has posted a walking tour of the Canonbury Square area of North London. The entire tour comprises about 38 minutes, but if you skip to about 8:00 you will catch the discussion of George Orwell’s residence at 27b in 1944-47 and, around the corner, Evelyn Waugh’s in 1928-29. The presenter notes the Islington Borough plaque on the Orwell site, which was remounted in 2016 to reflect the correct dates, and the lack of same on the Waugh site. He also claims that both Vile Bodies and Decline and Fall were published while Waugh lived here in 1928-1930. Decline and Fall had been finished in April 1928 and was published a few days after the  Waughs moved into their flat at 17a on 11 September 1928. Vile Bodies was written in June-October 1929, mostly in rural venues. Waugh would not have physically lived at 17a after July 1929 when his wife revealed her affair with John Heygate.




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