–The Historical Association (Richmond & Twickenham Branch) has announced a lecture later this year that may be of interest to our London area readers:
Takes Place: 28th September 2023
Venue: Richmond Library Annexe, Quadrant St, Richmond TW9
Description: a fascinating vista of the inter-war period of British Society and the World of Literature
How to book: HA Members attend for free, as do School students; non-members pay £2 on the door
Tel: 07958 729526
Email: (click to email)
Organiser: Richard Turk
Lecturer: Mr David Fleming
The subject will be Mr Fleming’s recent book Hellfire: Evelyn Waugh and the Hellfire Club. This has been mentioned in several recent posts and was reviewed in the latest issue of Evelyn Waugh Studies.
–Meanwhile, our Southern California readers may enjoy this recently-opened exhibit at :
… the Forest Lawn Museum, Glendale, “Grand Views: The Immersive World of Panoramas.” It’s a collaboration of two of L.A.’s quirkier alternative spaces, the hipster Velaslavasay Panorama and the kitsch-positive Forest Lawn Museum. Both institutions have unique connections to the subject matter. Forest Lawn founder Hubert Eaton had an abiding belief in the power of art to draw pre-need customers. He bought a mothballed panorama, Jan Styka’s The Crucifixion, and installed it as a light-and-narration tourist attraction in his Glendale cemetery. […]
Eaton located Styka’s painting, wrapped around a telephone in the basement of the Chicago Civic Opera Company. He bought it for a pittance and had it restored by Styka’s son. Put on display at Forest Lawn, it was billed as America’s largest religious painting. … No sooner had Eaton secured his big picture than he was planning a sequel. A crucifixion is a downer, at odds with Forest Lawn’s sanitized spin on death (satirized in Evelyn Waugh’s The Loved One). Eaton held a competition for designs for a similarly large painting of the Resurrection, to be shown alternately in the same building…
Even if you can’t schedule a visit to the exhibition, it is worth viewing the review posted on the website Los Angeles County Museum on Fire. The detailed illustrations will be of interest to anyone who has read Waugh’s novella and related essay on Forest Lawn: “Half in Love with Easeful Death” (EAR, 331). The 1952 photo from an unknown source entitled “Dr Hubert Eaton searching for Smiling Christ” is alone worth a look. The article is available at this link. Information regarding location and visiting hours at the museum is available here.
—The Independent newspaper has posted an article on what it considers the best individual episodes of television series. This is explained in the introduction:
Television shows are, inevitably, made up of parts. On the surface, there’s the great, overarching story that begins with the first shot and ends with the last. But, within that narrative, there are small parts: the series, and the episode. It is the smallest of these sub-divisions, the episode, that is most intriguing. A truly brilliant episode can bridge the gap between cinema and TV. It can refine the essence of the best shows into a single, self-contained moment. At its most potent, a perfect episode is like mainlining all the myriad ingredients of prestige television in a single sitting.
The article then chooses the best 50 episodes of all time, and ranking just below the top at No. 6 is the final episode of the 1981 Granada series Brideshead Revisited:
The final episode of Granada TV’s Evelyn Waugh adaptation is by far the most melancholic, and not simply because Laurence Olivier, in his last significant screen role, gives an acting masterclass as his Lord Marchmain lies dying – the dissolute, snobbish marquis making a surprise reconversion to Catholicism. The final 15 minutes set during the Second World War, when the narrator Charles Ryder (Jeremy Irons) returns to Brideshead with his army squadron, and finds the place that holds so many memories being turned upside down by the troops, makes for a perfect Proustian coda. GG
I would have chosen the first episode. There will never be a better dramatization of interwar Oxford.
—The Herald (Glasgow) has posted an article on Mary Quant. This is in connection with the opening of an exhibit at the Kelingrove Gallery and Museum in Glasgow entitled “Mary Quant: Fashion Revolutionary.” No doubt this is in connection with the celebration of Quant’s centenary year. See previous post. The article seems to be largely based on an interview of Quant’s long-time marketing and communications director Heather Tilbury Phillips. In the course of the article, this appears:
…Tilbury Phillips arrived at Quant’s HQ in Ives Street to take up a post working with Quant’s husband, Alexander Plunkett-Greene, an entrepreneur who came from old money (his family were said to be the inspiration for the Flyte family in Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited).
While it is true that one might well find examples of characters based on the Plunket-Greenes in some of Waugh’s novels (especially Vile Bodies), there is little to connect them to the Flytes except for their Roman Catholicism (at least Olivia Plunket-Greene and possibly her mother Gwen were converts; not sure about other members of the family). For one thing, they lacked a large country house estate such as Brideshead Castle.
–A Christchurch, New Zealand newspaper The Press:Te Matatika asked one of their veteran columnists (Joe Bennett) about his thoughts after several decades of journalism. One response related to memoirs:
“Evelyn Waugh, who’s an idol of mine, said the only time to write an autobiography is when you’ve lost all curiosity about the future. I don’t think I’m quite there but I can see it from here.” Bennett recently turned 66 and he suspects there is nothing much left to surprise him “apart from what are you going to die of?”
–Books blogger zmkc has posted a review of Scott-King’s Modern Europe after seeing a discussion about it in a book Bradbury wrote about Waugh. This may have been Bradbury’s 1964 booklet Evelyn Waugh in the Writers and Critic Series. Here’s her conclusion:
…Bradbury claims the book was written by Waugh after a visit to Spain. To me the country Scott-King is taken to seemed stranger and more remote than Spain could ever feel to a visitor from England. In any case, Waugh is, as always in my view, unable to put a word out of place and full of perceptive melancholy humour and wisdom. No one is a hero, everyone is scrabbling to live in some sort of reasonable comfort, life is consistently absurd and strange. The business of travel – the waiting rooms and so forth – are horrible, people are mysterious, surprising and absurd, confused surrender is the only useful attitude in face of the onrushing tide of life’s events.
I suspect someone could rig up a proposal for an academic thesis on books about innocents abroad, which could include Rates of Exchange, Scott-King’s Modern Europe and the scariest I’ve yet found of the genre – Metropole (or in Hungarian Epepe) by Ferenc Karinthy. If one wanted to, it also wouldn’t be impossible to argue that the story of Scott-King’s Modern Europe has some similarity to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe – in both, the main characters are swept from their daily lives to a strange world quite outside their experience and then returned to their normal existences, with no one in their original world being any the wiser…
Thanks to Dave Lull for sending this review. It was inadvertently omitted from the original post.