MLK Weekend Roundup

–The independent book publisher Sutherland House has posted a brief article entitled “Why Waugh Drank”. This is by Kenneth Whyte and begins with a quote from Waugh’s diary (8 Dec 1924, pp. 189-90) about a drink-fueled Oxford day spent in and out of the Hypocrites and New Reform Clubs, from the latter of which he was barred twice. The article then discusses Waugh’s difficult childhood as described in Alexander Waugh’s biography Fathers and Sons and concludes with this:

…Evelyn responded to his circumstances in a clever and self-protective fashion, defining himself against his brother and father. By adolescence, he had an inkling that he was smarter and funnier than both. They could keep their mawkish outpourings of emotion toward one another; he would be hard of head and sharp of tongue. By his early teen years, he was confiding to his diary that Arthur was a fat and “ineffably silly” Victorian sentimentalist. He considered both Alec and Arthur philistines. “Terrible man, my father,” Evelyn said to a schoolmaster. “He likes Kipling.”

To the extent that his parents thought about Evelyn, they were disturbed by his dark moods and lassitude, and intimidated by his cynical wit. Both Alec and Arthur were threatened by Evelyn as a potential literary rival. When Evelyn, in what was becoming a typical act of rebellion, ran up an expensive restaurant tab and had it sent to an outraged Arthur, Alec said: “You know father, if Evelyn turns out to be a genius, you and I might be made to look very foolish by making a fuss over ten pounds, seventeen and ninepence.”

So you can perhaps see how young Evelyn Waugh developed an enthusiasm for drink remarkable even in an undergrad, and why the rare characters killed in gruesome fashion in his fiction tended to be fathers…

The article closes with a quote from a recent essay in the New Statesman discussed in an earlier post which Whyte thinks may evidence some renewed interest in Waugh and his writing. Thanks to David Lull for sending a link.

–Several Spanish-language book sites are listing what looks like the upcoming publication of a Spanish or Castilian translation of Waugh’s 1935 biography to be entitled Edmun Campion jesuita y matir. There is no information about the translator or publication date, but the price will be €16, and the publisher is apparently to be Editorial Didaskalos.  According to, Waugh’s Edmund Campion is currently available to its customers only in English language editions.

The Spectator has an article by John Oxley in its current edition entitled “The Tory Party’s Empty Legacy.” The article opens with this:

It was Evelyn Waugh who dismissed the Tories as having ‘never put the clock back a single second’. Now, even the party’s own MPs seem similarly sceptical, with Danny Kruger lamenting the last 14 years of power as leaving the country ‘sadder, less united and less conservative’. It’s one thing for a parliamentarian to bemoan the party for dropping in the polls, but unusual for one to be so scathing of an entire period of government. In fairness to the Conservatives, their record is not as hopeless as current polling might suggest…

YouTube has posted a reading by Tobias Menzies of a letter of Evelyn Waugh to Nancy Mitford about his fans. This was dated 27 July 1952 and appears in Letters pp 376-77. It is presented in a series called Letters Live. It’s worth a look-in even if you are familiar with its contents. Here’s a link.

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