Roundup: Podcast, Public Domain and Plas Dulas

–The London Review of Books has announced its annual program of monthly literary podcasts for the coming year. This is called Close Readings. One of these wil focus on satire and will discuss, inter alia, Evelyn Waugh’s early novel A Handful of Dust which many critics consider his best book. Here’s the text for this particular series:

Close Readings, the LRB’s acclaimed programme of year-long literary courses, returns with three new series. Subscribe to the podcast to listen to them all (as well as all past series) next year, or sign up for a full Close Readings Plus course: you’ll still get podcast access to everything but also a host of other features to transform your reading in 2024.

In which Clare Bucknell and Colin Burrow attempt, over twelve episodes, to chart a stable course through some of the most unruly, vulgar, incoherent, savage and outright hilarious works in all of English literature. What is satire, what is it for, and why do we seem to like it so much?

Other books to be considered in that series include Muriel Spark’s A Far Cry from Kensington and Jane Austen’s Emma. Here’s a link to the announcement which includes sign up details of this and other series.

–In what may be the first announcement of a publication of Waugh’s work issued under the public domain now effective in the United States, a website called Standard Ebooks is offering a free copy of Waugh’s first novel Decline and Fall. See this link. After describing the story, the website provides this explanation:

Waugh issued a new edition of Decline and Fall in 1960 that contained restored text that was removed by his publisher from the first edition. This Standard Ebooks edition follows the first edition.


This ebook is thought to be free of copyright restrictions in the United States. It may still be under copyright in other countries. If you’re not located in the United States, you must check your local laws to verify that this ebook is free of copyright restrictions in the country you’re located in before accessing, downloading, or using it.

Here is some background information on Standard Ebooks:

Standard Ebooks is a volunteer-driven effort to produce a collection of high quality, carefully formatted, accessible, open source, and free public domain ebooks that meet or exceed the quality of commercially produced ebooks. The text and cover art in our ebooks is already believed to be in the U.S. public domain, and Standard Ebooks dedicates its own work to the public domain, thus releasing the entirety of each ebook file into the public domain. All the ebooks we produce are distributed free of cost and free of U.S. copyright restrictions.

Standard Ebooks is organized as a “low-profit L.L.C.,” or “L3C,” a kind of legal entity that blends the charitable focus of a traditional not-for-profit with the ease of organization and maintenance of a regular L.L.C. Our only source of income is donations from readers like you.

–Several Welsh papers announce that the long-planned but delayed demolition of a notable Waugh landmark is about to commence. Here is an excerpt from the news website  NorthWales Live:

The demolition of an historic mansion look set to move ahead shortly. Plas Dulas mansion on Pencoed Road, Llanddulas, was built in the 1840s as a summer retreat. Its famous guests included writer Charles Dickens, playwright Noel Coward and novelist Evelyn Waugh, with the grand house said to have been the inspiration for the boy’s school Llanabba in his 1928 novel Decline and Fall.

Despite planning being in place the building has remained standing – keeping alive the slim hope it could be saved. But the developer Alex Davies Construction has just submitted a construction method statement detailing how the building will be demolished and the site cleared ahead of the new development.

They state that the demolition process for the “old stone building at Plas Dulas will be planned with a focus on sustainability, safety and compliance with regulatory requirements”. They outlined how they would protect any bats that may be roosting at the site and also how they would minimise noise and disruption for local residents.

Mark Baker, architectural historian and Chair of Gwrych Trust, had campaigned against the demolition decision.

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