Roundup: Country Houses and Leisurely Lunches

–An essay entitled “‘The Ancient Lore’ of Brideshead Revisited” written by Ianto Fox has been posted on the internet. Here’s an excerpt from the author’s description of its content:

Nearly all commentary on Brideshead over the years has focused on the backdrop of Catholicism in the novel; the by-gone era of the English aristocracy; the homosexuality of Sebastian Flyte; the presence or lack of this in Charles Ryder, and nostalgia for the salad days of youth. As the full title of the novel suggests, “The Sacred and Profane Memories”. The story quite deliberately ends when Charles is about to turn forty years old…

Possibly because of the era in which I was born, the central theme of the novel never appeared to me to be the waning of Catholic influence in England, nor the struggles of those Catholic families, nor a by-gone time before television, computer and cell phone screens, when ladies and men wore extravagant hats and asked each other if they were “dining out”, and the delights of jazz clubs when that was the radical new music, although the latter nevertheless was one of the primary attractions of the book. To me, especially upon a second reading as one burrowed one’s way through one’s twenties, the central theme is that of a warning to those in their twenties and thirties, especially as they approach their fortieth birthday, like Charles Ryder is, when we meet him for the first time. Brideshead Revisited is a warning that, as one gets older, one must maintain past, present and future in equal measure in order to grow older successfully. One must keep one’s passions and great memories, but one must move forward and leave the past behind: otherwise, by trying to obtain what one had, or missed out on in one’s adolescence and young adulthood, one will decay in his thirties and forties and destroy the things he loves, as Oscar Wilde put it…

The entire text is available to read at this link.  Thanks to Ianto for sending us a copy.

–The latest issue of Esquire has an article entitled “Why You Should Make Your Lunch a Long One: Nothing says existential despair like an al desko sandwich”. This is written by Matthew Fort and opens with this:

“They were nearly an hour over luncheon. Course followed course in disconcerting abundance, while Colonel Blount ate and ate, turning the leaves of his book and chuckling frequently. They ate hare soup and boiled turbot and stewed sweetbreads and black Bradenham ham with Madeira sauce and roast pheasant and a rum omelette and toasted cheese and fruit. First they drank sherry, then claret, then port. ‘Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m going to have a little nap’,” says Colonel Blount in Evelyn Waugh’s Vile Bodies.

In less than an hour! Blimey. That’s going it a bit. Cramming that lot into less than several hours suggests a degree of vulgar excess. Lunch is to be loved. Lunch is to be lingered over. To lunch properly is to loiter with intent.

Waugh was writing about the tail-end of the greatest era for lunching, the reign of Edward VII, himself no nibbler. Sir Harold Nicolson, MP, diplomat, journalist, writer, husband to Vita Sackville-West, wrote eloquently of the dietary demands in that time of gastronomic exuberance (at least for the upper middle and upper classes), in his essay “The Edwardian Weekend”. He depicts it as a leisurely peregrination from one Lucullan blow-out to the next…

Fort goes on to describe what has been lost with the passing of the leisurely lunch tradition. Here’s a link.

–iUniverse, a self-publishing company, has announced the release of a book entitled Evelyn Waugh: The Novelist. The announcement explains that the author “Prof Jagdish Chandra Jha has done yeoman’s service to the scholar community of English literature by bringing into print his thesis on Evelyn Waugh, the great novelist, in fact one of the most famous authors of English literature.” A description of Prof. Jha’s career follows. The announcement, which also includes a summary of the book, as well as purchase instructions are available here. There is also an invitation to post a review of the book.

Country Life magazine invokes Waugh’s patronage as a selling point for a Dartmoor country house near the village of Chagford:

…Chagford … is an ancient and thriving Devon market town within the Dartmoor National Park, 20 miles west of the cathedral city of Exeter. From the 1930s to the 1950s, the town’s former Easton Court Hotel was a popular writers’ retreat, where Evelyn Waugh reputedly completed A Handful of Dust in 1933 and Brideshead Revisited in 1944…

The Gazette (Blackpool) announces the screenings of two films with local Lancashire themes one of which it believes may appeal to Evelyn Waugh fans:

…The short features are Granny, which celebrates the life of Lizzy Ashcroft, a star of the Preston-based Dick Kerr Ladies football in the early 20th century, and Flyte of Fancy, which was filmed at Lytham Hall last summer is set in the late 1930’s. It builds on the suggestion that Lytham squire Harry Clifton had been a friend and inspiration to Evelyn Waugh for the character of Sebastian Flyte in his book Brideshead Revisited. Waugh himself visited Lytham Hall on more than one occasion…

In Flyte of Fancy, a mysterious man claiming to be author Evelyn Waugh’s butler visits Lytham Hall, the home of Waugh’s friend from Oxford, Harry Clifton.  The lead is played by former Emmerdale actor Mathew Bose, who played Paul Lambert in the soap, supported by Lytham-born Martyn Coyne as Lomax and Anne Bouget as Violet Clifton. The screenplay was written by local playwright David Slattery-Christy, with significant research having been carried out through Oxford University. It was filmed and directed by local filmmaker Gillian Wood.

Sunday’s premiere screenings will be at The Pavilion in Blackpool’s Winter Gardens on Sunday, February 12 between 5.30pm and 6.45pm and Flyte of Fancy director Gillian Wood and Granny writer Michelle Crane, who is Blackpool-based, will be available afterwards for a question and answer session. It’s a Pay What You Can screening, with seats available for whatever you can afford to give. Details here.



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