Mid-May Roundup

–The Italian language newspaper Il Manifesto has posted an article (“The ivory brush and the tabernacle”) on Waugh’s novel Brideshead Revisited. This is written by Viola Pagetti. Here are slightly edited extracts translated (by Google) from the opening paragraphs:

Having converted to Catholicism, Evelyn Waugh abandons his brilliant satirical style for a writing that is enjoyable because it is transparent, easy because it is nostalgic, and participates in our dramatic current situation. For him the past is grafted onto the present and one can be read in the other. Thus promises the title of the novel considered his masterpiece Brideshead Revisited: The Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder which came out in 1945, now elegantly translated by Ottavio Fatica: Ritorno a Brideshead (Feltrinelli «Comete», preface by Alessandro Piperno, pp. 424, €22.00). Charles Ryder, Protestant, bourgeois, narrator of this historical but secretly autobiographical novel, omits the background to the ancient story. November 5, 1605 was the day the first modern act of terrorism, the Gunpowder Plot, was attempted . The Catholics, immediately suspected, planned to blow up the English parliament together with King James I with a strong explosive charge.

There followed in the immediate revenge of Guy Fawkes Night the deadly hunt for the priest. Severe sanctions were issued against Protestant and Catholic dissenters who did not take the oath to the new Anglican church, which became the state church. With an Act of Uniformity, non-[conformers]  were deprived of their civil and political rights. “Roman Catholic” was [a name applied] to anyone who did not respect the obligation to abjure the timeless and the spiritual authority of the Pope, and did not deny the dogma of transubstantiation, a fundamental principle of Catholic, sacramental doctrine, linked to non-replaceable gestures.

Various legislative interventions followed in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries which reiterated the severe restrictions on that minority of nobles, Catholic families affected not in their wealth but in their faith, in the evangelical promise that had nourished English mysticism since the Middle Ages …  Jesuit missionaries dedicated to martyrdom arrived from Rome to fulfill their sacramental duties, and the large Gothic or Baroque villas equipped themselves to hide their priest under the trap door or behind the false wall. The hagiography of the Jesuit, poet and polemicist Edmund Campion, tortured and condemned to death as a traitor, was published by Waugh in 1935. …

From that not forgotten history of the Roman Catholics had arisen a political hatred which was also aesthetic, destined to divide perhaps forever the Church of England from that of Rome. ….

There follows a description of the novel’s story and conclusion. A full text can be viewed and translated here. Whether this is a new translation of the novel isn’t stated. An Italian version of the book has been available for many years.

–The silent film weblog called The Bioscope has reposted a 2008 article on the film The Scarlet Woman which Waugh and his Oxford friend Terrence Greenidge made in 1925. Here’s an excerpt:

The subject of the latest in our series on literary figures and silent film is unusual in that his significant engagement with film preceded his first book publication. Evelyn Waugh was twenty-one, had just come down from Oxford, and was working on a novel, The Temple of Thatch (which was never to be completed), when he became involved in films.

Waugh was both fascinated and repelled by cinema. He professed a lowly opinion of films and commercial film production, but he was a compulsive filmgoer throughout his life (as his diaries reveal), and was fascinated by the narrative qualities of the medium. Such qualities he admired when appropriated in the literary works of others (Ronald Firbank, Graham Greene), and encouraged in other would-be writers, as in this 1921 exhortation to his friend Dudley Carew:

“Try and bring home thoughts by actions and incidents. Don’t make everything said. This is the inestimable value of the Cinema to novelists (don’t scoff at this as a cheap epigram it is really very true). Make things happen. … Whatever the temptation, for God’s sake don’t bring characters on simply to draw their characters and make them talk. Fit them into a design. … It is a damn good idea. Don’t spoil it out of slackness or perversity but do MAKE THINGS HAPPEN. Have a murder in every chapter if you like but do do something. GO TO THE CINEMA and risk the headache.”

Waugh found inspiration in films not for pictorial values as such, but in what he saw films could offer in terms of narrative design and continuity, of montage, propulsion, and changing fields of vision. Moreover, Waugh the satirist was inspired by film’s propensity for exposing falsity through display. …

A full text is available at this link. The 1921 letter to Dudley Carew is reproduced in Letters 1-2. Towards the end, the article mentions the availability of copies of the film from Dr Charles Linck’s publishing venue Cow Hill Press. Alas, since the original post, Dr Linck has passed away and the Cow Hill Press source is probably no longer available. The repost apparently engendered a comment on Reddit.com that the film was currently available to stream free of charge from the British Film Institute (BFI) but only to viewers with a UK internet connection. This was noted in a previous post.

–The following was posted on the weblog The Homebound Symphony:

“From Evelyn Waugh’s biography of Ronald Knox:

For three days he lay in a coma, but once Lady Eldon saw a stir of consciousness and asked whether he would like her to read to him from his own New Testament. He answered very faintly, but distinctly: ‘No’; and then after a long pause in which he seemed to have lapsed again into unconsciousness, there came from the death-bed, just audibly, in the idiom of his youth: ‘Awfully jolly of you to suggest it, though.’

They were his last words.

My favorite story about Knox, about whom there are many many stories, is that when he had a private audience with Pope Pius XII the chief thing that the Holy Father wanted to talk about was the Loch Ness monster. (I guess that’s more of a Pope story than a Knox story, but anyway.)”

–To mark the 40th anniversary of John Betjeman’s death on 18 March 1984, the BBC has put together a collection of Betjeman-related television programs dating back to 1964. These were all presented on BBC Four on Sunday 19 May. They include Monitor: Betjeman and Larkin Down a Country Road (1964), Bird’s Eye View (1969), Metroland (1973), A Passion for Churches (1974), The Queen’s Realm (1977), Reputations: John Betjeman: The Last Laugh (2001), Betjeman and Me: Rick Stein’s Story (2006) and Late Flowering Lust: Comedy-Drama based on JB poems (1994). The programs can be streamed on BBC iPlayer. A UK internet connection is necessary.

This entry was posted in Brideshead Revisited, Film: The Scarlet Woman, Internet, Newspapers, Ronald Knox, Television Programs, Translations and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *