Mid-May Roundup

The Guardian, apparently in anticipation of the 50th anniversary of the serialized publication of Waugh’s diaries, has posted a brief introduction by Chris Hall. Here’s an excerpt:

The year 1973 saw a big serialisation of the private diaries of Evelyn Waugh in the Observer Magazine, edited by Michael Davie. The edition of 1 April covered the period between ‘coming down from Oxford and getting secretly engaged in the winter of 1927’, which was ‘probably the unhappiest stretch of his life’ (‘Waugh on the bright young people’) […]

When the teacher Captain Grimes in Decline and Fall left his clothes on the beach and a note in a faked suicide bid, it had echoes of Waugh. After running out of money and losing a job, Waugh had gone ‘down to the sea, left his clothes and a valedictory quotation from Euripedes on the beach, and swum towards the horizon. He was stung by a jellyfish, however, and turned back.’ And so A Handful of Dust was nearly a handful of dust […]

Waugh was also sacked after just three months as a reporter on the Daily Express. On the upside, all this material fed into [Waugh’s novels] . Much to thank the jellyfish for.

The Press (Yorkshire) reports the opening of an exhibit at Castle Howard. Here are some highlights:

PERIOD dramas which put a North Yorkshire stately home on the map as a location for TV and film are being celebrated in a new exhibition. Castle Howard On Screen: from Brideshead to Bridgerton has been launched at the attraction, showcasing costumes from hit series with connections to the house and estate […]

Eleanor Brooke-Peat, curator of collections and archives, said: “In this brand-new exhibition, we are celebrating the many times that Castle Howard has appeared as a location on screen. “Displayed within a film set, the exhibition features a selection of beautiful costumes, worn in and inspired by some of these productions, from Brideshead Revisited to Netflix’s Bridgerton, and everything in between. “We hope that this exhibition gives our visitors a glimpse of what it is like to play host to film crews and movie stars, and how our on-screen appearances have helped to bring international fame to this small pocket of North Yorkshire.”

Abbi Olive, head of marketing, sales and programming, added: “Castle Howard has taken a leading role in many productions since Lady L in the 1960s.”The original Brideshead Revisited Granada TV series really put Castle Howard on the map as a location and had a huge impact. […] The income generated from filming companies using our site as a location has gone directly into the conservation and restoration of Castle Howard”…

The exhibition is now open and is included in a House ticket.  It runs until the end of October.

–The website CrimeReads.com has posted a list of  “Ten Close Families in Literature.” One of the novels listed is Brideshead Revisited:

‘I had been there before; I knew all about it’. The ultimate novel of the golden family where all is not really as it should be, it is impossible to pick up Brideshead without being drawn into its dark, glittering circle, with Oxford and young men in cricket whites and all the English country house clichés, but at its heart, the dysfunction and fossilisation of the upper classes. Very few have done it as well. The Flyte family is slowly dying, its closeness and need to service the title and estate suffocating each family member in different ways.

Others include the Earnshaws and Lintons of Wuthering Heights and the Bennet sisters of Pride and Prejudice.

–The New Zealand website Stuff.co.nz has posted a brief essay on humor and what makes it work. This is by Joe Bennett. Here is an excerpt:

Humour is unflinching. It goes where it goes, and it scoffs at politeness.

“’I expect you’ll be becoming a schoolmaster, sir.” says a character in Evelyn Waugh’s Decline and Fall. “That’s what most of the gentlemen does, sir, that gets sent down for indecent behaviour.”

Humour mocks authority. People like Trump hate it because it tells the truth. The Trumps of this world can neither make a joke nor take one. Laughter bewilders them.

–The review of an Edinburgh art exhibition in The Scotsman makes an interesting connection with a Waugh novel:

Our own planet was not so long ago the centre of the universe. When Galileo opined it might be otherwise, he was threatened with torture by the Inquisition. Now it seems our solar system itself, though bigger than anything Galileo could see, is little more than a single atom. Calling out our hubris and at the same time enumerating some of its consequences seems to be the object of Katie Paterson’s remarkable work Requiem at the Ingleby Gallery, informed by her evident acquaintance with the latest scientific thinking. The Requiem is for the earth we know and love, though it is to be hoped that Paterson is pessimistic, not prophetic. Implicit in the work is the idea that the choice is ours.

Requiem is beautifully presented, although, like much contemporary art, a metaphor certainly, but not exactly a visual one, although certainly poetic. A glass jar sits on a pedestal in the middle of the tall, square, beautifully lit gallery space. A narrow shelf runs round the four walls and arrayed on it are 364 small glass jars, each containing a handful of dust. There are echoes here of Evelyn Waugh’s novel of futility, A Handful of Dust, of the funeral service, dust to dust and ashes to ashes, or beyond them, Ecclesiastes, “All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.” This theme is echoed in turn in TS Eliot’s The Waste Land, whence Waugh took the title of his bleak novel. “There is shadow under this red rock/ (Come in under the shadow of this red rock),/ And I will show you something different from either/ Your shadow at morning striding behind you/ Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;/ I will show you fear in a handful of dust.”

–Finally, on the electronics technology website sixteen-nine.net, there is a report about the ISE [Integrated Systems Europe] Expo later this year in Barcelona:

Is there anything new under the sun? For ISE, there’s a new location, certainly, in Barcelona, but whether or not this is reflected at the show in technology terms is a point of debate.

Worth is not always priced in novelty or youth, however, a fact that is certainly on my mind as I return to the digital signage trade after five years’ absence with grey hair, a new role and, as we all have, a simple need to do as Evelyn Waugh said and “Only connect.”

It was, of course, not Waugh, but E M Forster who made “Only connect” noteworthy when he used it as the epigraph for his novel Howards End. I do not recall Waugh ever commenting upon it.





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