–A recent book with a Waugh theme was listed (with reservations) among the Daily Telegraph year’s best biographies:
Daisy Dunn’s Not Far From Brideshead (W&N, £20) is less satisfactory. What should be a dynamite intellectual history of how three great classicists – Gilbert Murray, Maurice Bowra and E R Dodds – shaped our modern world gets mired in the sort of creamy nostalgia that Evelyn Waugh found so embarrassing when he came to revise Brideshead Revisited in 1959.
–Another recent Waugh-related book gets a boost from Matthew d’Ancona on his website TortoiseMedia.com. This is Hellfire: Evelyn Waugh and the Hypocrites Club. Here’s an excerpt:
…For Waugh, it was a portal into aristocratic society. Cockburn described it as “a noisy alcohol-soaked rat-warren by the river.” High seriousness was disdained by its members but, as Powell would later recall, its members were “a collection, most of them, of hard-headed and extremely ambitious young men”, many of whom went on to occupy leading roles in national culture and the republic of letters. Like Charles Ryder and Sebastian Flyte in Brideshead, they used Oxford as a playground and salon for debauched self-indulgence, before embarking upon the harder business of adult life.
The club was finally closed down after a riotous party at which its members dressed as Queen Victoria, choristers in lipstick, Madame de Pompadour and, fatally, a nun – who was in fact Arden Hilliard, the son of Balliol’s bursar, spotted by the porters trying to slip into the college on the evening of 8 March 1924. This was sufficient grounds for a ban. But the bonds formed at the club would linger long into the century; 40 years after its closure, Waugh recalled it as the “stamping ground of half my Oxford life and the source of friendships still warm today.”
–A new documentary series on UK Channel 4 is mentioned in Church Times. This also has a Waugh element:
SOME readers of the Church Times will have felt ruefully familiar with the problems underlying Channel 4’s new series Castle Howard: Through the seasons (Sundays from 11 November). [sic] How to pay for essential repairs? Will numbers ever recover from Covid? And the never-ending challenge of responsibility for a beloved and inspiring chunk of our heritage…
The Yorkshire Post also has posted an article about the series. See this link. The first episode briefly mentioned Brideshead Revisited in connection with a recent exhibition involving the costumes for the Brideshead adaptations filmed there as well as those for the more recent Bridgerton series. The next weekly episode is scheduled for today, Saturday, 19 November at 810p. The first episode can be watched on the streaming site 4oD. A UK internet connection is required. The second will be available after tonight’s broadcast.
–Matthew Parris writing in The Times describes a recent TV award ceremony he attended. This was the Editors Media Freedom Awards and extended over several hours, through most of which he was bored:
…There was, however, a moment I’ll always treasure. The Daily Mirror were having a particularly good night but everyone was quiet to watch a harrowing clip from an award-winning documentary about Afghan women forced to sell their kidneys, the camera lingering on each awful scar as the poor women raised their clothing. After the clip came a second’s shocked silence. It was broken by the loud pop of a champagne cork from the Mirror table. Only the cold-hearted kept straight faces. Oh, Evelyn Waugh (I thought) thou shouldst be living at this hour. It could have been a scene from Scoop.
–An OUP editor with a sense of humor has written an extract for an academic journal’s review of a book entitled “Private Bill Legislation in the Nineteenth-Century Parliamentary Promotion from 1797 to 1914”:
This book reminds one of the delightful exchange between Guy Crouchback and the immortal Apthorpe in Evelyn Waugh’s Sword of Honour trilogy. When asked to give a lecture to the troops, Apthorpe volunteers to talk about the jurisdiction of Lyon King of Arms compared with that of Garter King of Arms. Crouchback queries whether the men will be interested, to which the reply is ‘Not all of them, perhaps. Those that are interested will be very much interested indeed’.
Apart from the author’s wife Lizzy to whom this book is dedicated, and who we can therefore assume has a consuming passion for minute details about private bill legislation in the 19th century, not many people will be interested in this book. But those who are will be very much interested indeed.
And many of those who are not would probably be all the better for it if they were.
This is a book of consummate scholarship.
–Duncan McLaren sent the following message on the recent occasion of Evelyn Waugh’s birthday:
I had just written a birthday tribute to Evelyn when I began to receive anonymous postcards from someone paying his own tribute. As a result, this piece has a certain gravitas and complexity, not necessarily obvious from the start