Spring Equinox Roundup

–The New Criterion has posted a review of Simon Heffer’s new book on the interwar period. This is entitled Sing As We Go, and it is reviewed by Jeremy Black. The review is quite favorable and notes that Heffer’s depiction of the 1930s is much less bleak than many other studies of this period. Waugh gets a mention in the review:

The war itself was to help weaken, if not quite destroy, much of the fabric and practice of pre-war British society. Symbolically, Evelyn Waugh’s novel Brideshead Revisited (1945) provided an account of how wartime road transport helped force through change:

“We laid the road through the trees joining it up with the main drive; unsightly but very practical; awful lot of transport comes in and out; cuts the place up, too. Look where one careless devil went smack through the box-hedge and carried away all that balustrade.”

Waugh himself is ably discussed by Heffer as part of a superb chapter, “The Twenties Roar,” which is an important as well as brilliantly observed account of society from sexuality to local government. We have the fashionable Kit-Cat Club raided in 1925 for serving drink after hours. The Prince of Wales had been there the previous night. The 43 Club and Chez Victor also feature in an account of Waugh’s earlier world of Bright Young Things.

The book is Heffer’s fourth and final volume discussing the history of Britain from the Victorian era until WWII (1838-1939). It was issued in the UK in September, and it seems to be for sale in the USA (at least it is listed for sale on Amazon). The first two volumes were published in the US by Pegasus Books, but I cannot find a US release date for this one on their internet site. The New Criterion’s reviewer refers to the UK edition (Hutchison/Heinemann), and that may be the one that Amazon.com is selling.

–The Daily Telegraph’s Parliamentary Sketchwriter, Madeline Grant, has written a column expressing her concern about the capabilities of the newly appointed actor who will take the role of James Bond in future film series. She calls up a similar reaction Evelyn Waugh expressed in a comparable situation:

Is that a puff of white smoke from the Eon Productions chimney? Aaron Taylor-Johnson, the star of Kick-Ass and noughties classic Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging, has reportedly received a firm offer to be the next James Bond…

What I most want to see in a new Bond is someone with a deep appreciation of the franchise. Recent outings have unpicked the series to deadening effect. Charlie Higson’s Bond remake novel recasts the character as a dreary centrist dad who frets about diversity and his gut biome. Cary Fukunaga, who directed the cinematic sludge known as No Time to Die, branded Bond a rapist. Dr No Means No, apparently.

Witnessing a beloved series in the hands of people with nothing but contempt for it recalls Evelyn Waugh’s dismissal of Stephen Spender: “To see him fumbling with our rich and delicate language is to experience all the horror of seeing a Sèvres vase in the hands of a chimpanzee.” It is like when people who clearly loathe classical art are hired to curate iconic national exhibitions.

So forget the pecs and eye-watering stunts, here’s the multi-million pound question – does the new Bond actually like Bond?

Here’s a link.

–Writing in The Times newspaper Ben Dowell has an article in the TV section entitled “5 of the best Eighties TV dramas”. Top of the list is the Granada/ITV production Brideshead Revisited.

–A guide to G K Chesterton’s The Everlasting Man has recently been published. Several commentators have noted Evelyn Waugh’s interest in what many see as Chesterton’s masterpiece. Here’s the notice in the Chesterton Society’s website:

Among the many masterpieces of G.K. Chesterton, The Everlasting Man is his crowning achievement. It was the book that set a young atheist named C.S. Lewis on the path toward Christianity. Evelyn Waugh called it “a permanent monument” that “needs no elucidation.” And its lively prose and compelling defense of Christianity have dazzled readers ever since.

But a little elucidation, it turns out, is needed. Chesterton’s presentation of the story of humanity and religion is filled with obscure literary, historical, mythological, philosophical, and theological references – most of which are largely lost on today’s readers. And Chesterton’s paradoxical and apparently wandering style proves, at times, disorienting to newcomers.

In this groundbreaking guide – the first of its kind – one of the world’s leading authorities on Chesterton walks readers through the entirety of this great apologist’s text. Complete with an introduction, footnotes, and running commentary, Dale Ahlquist’s tour through Chesterton’s classic will draw new readers into his literary world – and old readers even deeper into his literary genius.

Beautiful hardcover edition with a dust jacket.

The quote is taken from Waugh 1961 review of the biography of Chesterton by Gary Willis that appeared in the National Review and is reprinted in EAR 558, 560. The new book is available from Amazon.com at this link.


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