Roundup: 80th D-Day Anniversary

–The BBC posted an article on WWII parachute training in connection with its observance last week of the 80th anniversary of the 1944 D-Day landings. Here’s an excerpt:

…All the British paratroopers who landed in the early hours [of the D-Day invasion] had one thing in common. They were all trained in Cheshire. Specifically, the men of the Sixth Airborne Division were trained in the grounds of the country house at Tatton Park, near Knutsford, and the small airport in the Ringway parish of the county – which would later become the Manchester Airport known today. The role of the stately home, and the wider east Cheshire countryside in the preparations for Operation Overlord, is not widely known…The [Tatton Park training] jumps were made from barrage balloons whose mooring points can still be seen in the park to this day, and then later from Whitley bombers and Dakota transport planes. In total, 46 men were killed during the training, and many others were injured.

Evelyn Waugh, who was a captain in the Special Operations Executive (SOE), broke his leg on his second jump, which rendered him unfit for active duty. He spent much of the rest of the war at a desk, during which he penned the novel Brideshead Revisited. Tatton Hall is said to have been an inspiration for descriptions of the fictional stately home that gives that book its name…

Waugh was probably still technically unfit for active duty on D-Day, but by then he had arranged with the Army to have an extended leave that would enable him to write the novel that became Brideshead Revisited. Given Waugh’s general inability to adjust himself to the discipline of military life, his superior officers were only too happy to oblige.  After his leave ran out, he was assigned to Randolph Churchill’s liaison mission to Yugoslavia which departed a few weeks after D-Day. This was shortly after he had handed in the manuscript of the novel. He was “behind a desk” only for the first months of 1944, although the desk was not in the Army but in one of his writing venues. The stately home in his novel was inspired mainly by Madresfield Court in Worcestershire, not Tatton Hall, which I don’t think he ever mentions. Here’s a link to the article.

–Writer Frederic Raphael is also in the news thanks to the BBC. This undated report of an interview in The Jewish Chronicle explains why:

…[In Raphael’s] books The Glittering Prizes, and its sequel, Fame and Fortune, the semi-autobiographical protagonist, Adam Morris, morphed from Cambridge graduate to successful middle-aged writer. But success in Thatcher’s Britain did not dampen Morris’s suspicion that “Jewboy” cracks were being bandied just out of earshot, and at 78 Raphael still rails about the anti-Jewish and anti-Israel sentiment of the Britsh media…

Morris, now a pensioner, reappears in the last book of the trilogy, Final Demands. Not that a trilogy was conceived when he wrote The Glittering Prizes, explains Raphael, who is still furious that the hit TV adaptation of 1976 which won him a Royal Television Society Writer of the Year award has never been repeated by the BBC. “At least not on TV — it was done for radio a few years ago. That’s when I was asked by the producer if I thought I could revisit those same characters 30 years on,” he says.

“I could, because I had taken on board what Evelyn Waugh said: ‘Never kill people off in your books, because you never know when you might need them again’.”

This week [sic] sees the simultaneous publication and BBC radio serialisation (with Tom Conti) of Final Demands. But it is almost certainly these particular Glitteratis’ last hurrah: “With Adam Morris past 70, I can’t see a fourth book set in a nursing home!”

I can still recall The Glittering Prizes and its sequel as an outstanding example of TV adaptations. It is a pity BBC has not rebroadcast it in connection with the new adaptation, even if that is relegated to radio. The schedule of the radio serial seems to be unavailable but the episode guide is posted. It is possible that the BBC’s adaptation was broadcast earlier in connection with the book publication of the same title in 2010 and that the Jewish Chronicle has chosen to repost it.

The American Conservative has a review of a new history of the Jesuit order. This was written by Markus Friedrich and published in German. It has now been translated into English. Here is the opening section of the review by Michael Warren Davis:

In Evelyn Waugh’s masterpiece Brideshead Revisited, a Canadian bounder named Rex Mottram converts to Catholicism in order to marry the novel’s leading lady, Julia Flyte. As part of his conversion, Rex is catechized by the Flyte family’s priest, Father Mackey. In one oft-quoted scene, Father Mackey recounts the previous day’s lesson to Julia:

“Yesterday I asked him whether Our Lord had more than one nature. He said: ‘Just as many as you say, Father.’ Then again I asked him: ‘Supposing the Pope looked up and saw a cloud and said ‘It’s going to rain,’ would that be bound to happen?’ ‘Oh, yes, Father’ ‘But supposing it didn’t?’ He thought a moment and said, ‘I suppose it would be sort of raining spiritually, only we were too sinful to see it.’”

Waugh himself was a convert to Catholicism. He used Rex as a mouthpiece for the Anglo-American stereotype of Catholics. Rex doesn’t care about religion one way or the other. He’s only interested in the beautiful Julia—and her family’s fortune. The Flytes are a family of recusants: English Catholics who refused to convert to Anglicanism during the Reformation. The Flytes themselves represent Waugh’s preferred brand of Catholicism. Unlike Rex, they have culture and breeding. They were all educated by Jesuits, the brainiest religious order in the Catholic Church.

What’s funny is that the Jesuits—the Society of Jesus—were founded on solid Mottramist principles. In his book Spiritual Exercises, the order’s founder, St. Ignatius Loyola, declares: “To be right in everything, we ought always to hold that the white which I see, is black, if the Hierarchical Church so decides it.”,,,

–A brief review of Sword of Honour appears on the website of the Online Library of Liberty (OLL). This is by Nathaniel Birzer and is entitled “Crouchbackus Contritus: Evelyn Waugh’s Sword of Honor Trilogy as a Chivalric Romance.” Here’s the opening:

Several far-better known and experienced reviewers than I have written on Evelyn Waugh’s Sword of Honor Trilogy, noting the resemblance of its major romantic sub-plot to the prophet Hosea while at the same time generally consigning the majority of the military misadventures, the bulk of the story, to the waste bin as, at most, an amusing distraction from the Hosea plot and, at worst, a frustrating slog of boredom. However, these reviewers are overlooking a key aspect of the novel, and an often overlooked yet once vital genre of the Western Literary tradition. They see the story in terms of “THE CATHOLIC NOVEL,” a sanctified version of the many early twentieth century works, such as The Sun also Rises or The Great Gatsby, revolving around bitterness and disaster in love. In this they are making the grave error of assuming this is just another Brideshead Revisited, but set more directly in the Second World War. In fact, the story is accomplishing something completely different. It is attempting to be not a novel but a Chivalric Romance…

The full article is available here.

–The Daily Telegraph has a story by Christopher Wilson which misattributes a quote to Evelyn Waugh. The article (dateline 10 June 2024) relates to the recent release of several love letters of Prince George, Duke of Kent. In identifying some of those mentioned in the letters, the name of Myrtle Farquharson is noted. Waugh is quoted as commenting, “People one knew [socially] were never killed in raids–except Myrtle.” She was indeed killed in an air raid (1941), but the mention of that fact was in a letter written by Nancy Mitford to Waugh (22 October 1961) with respect to his description of the death of Virginia Troy in his novel Unconditional Surrender. So the quote should have been attributed to Mitford, not to Waugh. Letters, p. 577; NMEW, p. 440.


This entry was posted in Adaptations, Anniversaries, Brideshead Revisited, Internet, Newspapers, Sword of Honour, World War II and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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