Duncan McLaren has rearranged his Waugh website in order to accommodate new entries. This involves creation of a new website where he will include all material relating to Waugh’s war and postwar life and writings (from 1939). Original material relating to this period already posted on the existing site will be transferred to the new one. He has already posted two new articles. These are on two of the novels in the war trilogy: Officers and Gentlemen and Unconditional Surrender. Here’s the introductory section of the Unconditional Surrender article:
Officers and Gentlemen was finished in November 1954. Evelyn Waugh had meant to get on with the third book in the war trilogy soon after, but things hadn’t quite worked out that way. The composition of The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold, a couple of years after the paranoid experience of it, plus the move from Piers Court, Gloucestershire, to Combe Florey, Somerset, took up 1956 and 1957. The close relationship to Ronald Knox, his final illness and death, and taking upon himself the task of writing an official biography: The Life of the Right Reverend Ronald Knox, kept Evelyn busy throughout 1958. A trip to Africa followed by a pot-boiling account of the trip, A Tourist in Africa, took chunks out of 1959. All this ‘distraction’ had occupied Evelyn for five years. Hence it was only in March 1960, that he began to turn his mind to writing the third volume of his novel memorialising his own experience of World War Two.
In 1940, he had been 37, getting a bit old in the tooth to be a soldier. In 1960, he was 57, getting a bit old in the tooth to be writing about it with zest. Or so he feared. Evelyn knew himself to be a man who had played hard and fought hard, and had become decidedly old for his years. But how was the booze-riddled bonce? Could he still master his material? Could he still structure a novel? Could he still bear in mind the architecture of the whole while making each subsidiary part shine, glow and dazzle? Perhaps he pondered all this as he made a start to phase three of what he would later describe as his magnum opus. A term he’d also used for Brideshead Revisited.
For future reference, the link to the new site is olderevelyn.org.uk