Brideshead @ 75: Sunday Telegraph

This is the opening day of Brideshead Revisited’s 75th anniversary week. The first book publication took place on 28 May 1945 in London. The Sunday Telegraph is first off the mark in its recognition of the event with an article by Hannah Betts. She opens with a mention of the book’s current reputation based on the opinion of Christopher Hitchens and events such as the BBC rebroadcast of a four-part radio adaptation and Castle Howard’s webinar later this week. See earlier posts. She then considers its critical reputation at the time of its publication, the evolution of that reception as well as Waugh’s own evolving assessment of the book and concludes with her own analysis. Here is an excerpt:

So what is the enduring appeal of this novel that has such a grip on the popular consciousness, even among those who — like Hitchens, radical and anti-theist — one might imagine would resist its heady allure?

It haunts us because it is about being haunted; a postlapsarian account of the prelapsarian, and an elegy for not one, but two lost worlds. […]

Brideshead, it must be said, is also bloody funny. One thinks of Cordelia’s sacred Vatican monkeys, or the wincingly awful Cynthia asking whether she should “put her face to bed”, lest her spouse require intercourse.

Personally, it is not Oxford, Venice or Brideshead itself that exerts its siren call, but the interlude on the boat; not “forerunner” Sebastian, but his sister whom I weep over. That nightmarish breakdown at the fountain — as coruscating a scene as ever appeared in Eng Lit. For all the book’s sepia-tintedness, the nostalgia it gives us is of the most lacerating sort, a blade never not among the plovers’ eggs.

Still, in the end, even this pain becomes a pleasure, and part of our reason for revisiting. A.N. Wilson again: “Waugh is one of the rare band — Lermontov, Jane Austen, Nabokov — who made of his novels perfectly crafted objects. Brideshead Revisited, of all his books, is the most beautifully made, the most richly enjoyable. Above all, enjoyable.”

Re-read it and weep – but happily.

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Online Waugh Events: NYPL and Others

–The New York Public Library has announced an online event next week. This will be part of their series Avant-Garde Reading Room. Here are the details from their website:

Please join us online for our short story discussion on Tuesday, May 26th at 6 pm. This time, we’ll be reading Evelyn Waugh’s “Excursion in Reality”.

A novelist is recruited to rewrite Hamlet for the motion pictures–but to update it in terms of language. In the process, of course, with studio committees what they are, the play loses much of its actual being. Meanwhile, the novelist’s fickle relationship with his girlfriend is put on hold, as he becomes wrapped up in a completely other affair.

Evelyn Waugh’s short fiction reveals in miniaturized perfection the elements that made him the greatest satirist of the twentieth century. For anyone who enjoys the taste of elegant prose laced with sparkling wit, Evelyn Waugh’s short stories deserve a place that is both prominent and permanent in one’s well-stocked storehouse of vintage literature. Cutting, indeed cruel at times, but always interesting, he zeroes in on the upper and upper middle classes of the interwar years. Cruelty can, in fact, be rather fun!

The story was first published in Harper’s Bazaar in 1932, appearing in both the New York (July) and London (August) editions. It had a different title in each edition. The current title was adopted in the 1936 UK collection Mr Loveday’s Little Outing and Other Sad Stories and used again in the postwar American collection Tactical Exercise. The story is also included in the Complete Stories. 

The participation instructions are provided here. According to the webpage the participant list is full but you may place yourself on a waiting list.

–Another online book event has also been announced. Joseph Pearce, Roman Catholic writer and educator, has posted notice of an online discussion of Brideshead Revisited to be lead by him. Here’s the posting:

Due to the popularity of the “Thursdays with Thursday” book club on The Man Who was Thursday, which begins next week, we’ve decided to offer another five-week book club, which we’re calling “Revisiting Brideshead” in which I’ll be leading a discussion of Evelyn Waugh’s classic novel, Brideshead Revisited. This will meet at 8pm on each Thursday from July 16 until August 13. This will also be limited to only 50 participants so please do consider signing up soon – and tell your friends! Here’s the link:

Here are the details:

Special Note: This Book Club is for Adults Only.

Day and time: Thursdays, 8:00 PM Eastern Time (7:00 Central 6:00 Mountain 5:00 Pacific)

Dates: July 16, July 23, July 30, August 6, and August 13

Price: $17 per person for all 5 weeks

Seating is limited to 50

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh is one of the greatest and most popular novels ever written. It is also one of the most Catholic. Waugh described its theme as “the operation of divine grace on a group of diverse but closely connected characters”. Joseph Pearce has taught this novel many times at college level, always including it on the syllabus for the senior level Twentieth Century Literature course for English majors. Join him as he revisits Brideshead.

–The UK-based digital radio station Classic FM has posted a notice about the Brideshead Revisited theme song. Here is an excerpt from their announcement:

One of the greatest TV series ever gave us one of the finest theme tunes too.[…]

Geoffrey Burgon’s Bafta-nominated score is at once expansive, regal and melancholic, with wistful oboe and trumpet, matched with horns that conjure up the pomp of Brideshead and the demise of Lord Marchmain and his family. The soundtrack album sold more than 100,000 copies, won a gold disc, and brought Burgon an Ivor Novello award.




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Cyril in Fiction: Roundup

–In his latest posting, Duncan Mclaren discusses yet another of Waugh’s friends. This time it is Cyril Connolly’s turn. McLaren looks at Cyril’s appearances in several of Waugh’s novels, at first obliquely as a name assigned to an unrelated character and finally in Waugh’s last novel (Unconditional Surrender) as the thinly disguised portrait of the character named Everard Spruce. This character was editor of the magazine Survival and accepted for publication the aphorisms of another character Ludovic entitled Pensées. These were the equally thinly disguised parodies of Cyril’s Horizon magazine and his own aphoristic collection published as The Unquiet Grave. Those connections have been mentioned before, most recently in D J Taylor’s book Lost Girls which is prominently discussed in Duncan’s article and will be reviewed in a forthcoming issue of Evelyn Waugh Studies.

The most interesting and original feature of McLaren’s post is his identification of Cyrillic elements in the character of Mr Joyboy in Waugh’s novella The Loved One. McLaren develops this connection very carefully and sees a linkage with a visit by Cyril to Piers Court with his then girlfriend Lys Lubbock that was contemporaneous with Waugh’s writing of the book. There may be elements of the Aimée Thanatogenos/Joyboy relationship and that between Cyril and Lys. Here’s a link to Duncan’s article. Additional connections include a copy of Horizon discussed by the characters and a drawing of the cover that appears in one of the illustrations. Moreover, Cyril devoted an entire issue of the magazine to publication of the novella.

–New Zealand blogger Bob Jones has compared the recent governmental policies adopted in response to the Wuhan Coronavirus epidemic to a similar example of bungling described by Evelyn Waugh in his late travel book Tourist in Africa:

The coming economic collapse is totally a man-made disaster. When the dust is settled we need an independent enquiry or even a Royal Commission, to study the idiotic decisions made in order to prevent a future reoccurrence. For make no mistake. Such epidemics will strike again. An enquiry will hopefully produce a better way of handling them.

As the brilliant Evelyn Waugh wrote in 1959, describing the ill-thought and enormously costly Kenyan groundnut fiasco by the post-war Labour government, “the fault was pride; the hubris which leads elected persons to believe that a majority at the polls endues them with inordinate abilities”! Ring a bell?

Waugh’s discussion of the groundnut scandal–which took place in Tanganyika, not Kenya– appears at pp. 84 ff. of his travel book which was published in 1960.

TV Guide has posted a review of the adaptation of Waugh’s novel A Handful of Dust. It has recently been streamed in the USA on HBO2 and is available on Amazon Prime:

This film version of what many consider Evelyn Waugh’s finest novel is the handiwork of Derek Granger and Charles Sturridge, the producer-director team responsible for “Brideshead Revisited,” the popular TV adaptation of another Waugh novel. […] Many devotees of the novel have been disappointed by Sturridge’s film, finding it fails to capture Waugh’s biting satire. While retaining much of Waugh’s dialog and keeping much of the story intact, Sturridge has, nevertheless, altered the tone of the proceedings. Though something is lost in the transition form novel to movie, A HANDFUL OF DUST is still a tale of horrible selfishness and cruelty. The period production design is excellent, and the photography is beautiful, both in its misty English country scenes and in its lush South American jungle settings. The costumes received an Oscar nomination.

Tatler magazine has published a list of what it considers the six best TV series dealing with High Society. At the top of the list is the Granger/Sturridge adaptation of Brideshead:

The best version of Evelyn Waugh’s most famous tale is undoubtedly the 1980s television series starring Jeremy Irons, Anthony Andrews and Diana Quick, which is loved for its stylish cinematography and even more stylish costumes. […] The series has stood the test of time, and is held in higher regard than any film adaptation.

–The New York Review of Books has published a retrospectve review of the books of satirical novelist Nell Zink. The review, entitled  “Getting Away With It” by Andrew Martin, opens with this brief summary of Zink’s books starting with her first two The Wallcreeper and Mislaid. Martin writes that Zink:

…has a habit of killing off interesting characters sooner than seems wise, though the cheerful revenge of the bacchantes in her books rarely takes the form of physical violence. Her novels, famously written quickly (three weeks is usually cited as the time it took to draft each of her first three books), do, at times, read as though they wrote themselves; their startling combinations of registers and breakneck plots sometimes give the impression that they sprang directly from the author’s unconscious, if a more rigorously structured one than that of, say, the Beats. Though Dickens is often invoked as a point of comparison for writers of wildly varying styles and quality, Zink may be the contemporary writer who most deserves the comparison. She has a Dickensian gift for caricature and set pieces, as well as his nagging, theatrical tendency to wrap all the story’s loose ends in a bow. There are hints of early Penelope Fitzgerald in her embrace of misfits (as well as in her late start to publishing), and a healthy dose of the English novelist Barbara Trapido, whose Brother of the More Famous Jack shares Zink’s zest for bad literary manners.

As Martin nears the end, he discusses her latest book Doxology  and makes a comparison of its place in the oeuvre with one of Waugh’s novels:

…The result is a book that doesn’t quite justify its deployment of the trappings of the “novel of our times.” Caught somewhere between satirizing that genre and earnestly attempting it, Zink lands in an uncertain middle ground. It may be the case that her strengths as a writer are fundamentally those of the disrupter and the caricaturist rather than the nuanced social chronicler, but the madness of the current moment calls as much for disruption as it does for breadth and grace. Doxology may prove to be a transitional book in her career, like, say, Evelyn Waugh’s A Handful of Dust, the work of a committed spitballer creeping toward a more sober reckoning with the world, then bailing out when things get too real.


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Brideshead Webinar (More)

The following additional information has been received from Castle Howard about the 28 May 2020 webinar:

The webinar will celebrate the 75th Anniversary of the first publication of Brideshead, by exploring Castle Howard’s relationship with Waugh’s classic novel. Our Curator Dr Chris Ridgway will uncover theories about inspirations behind the original ‘Brideshead’. We will then look at Castle Howard’s role as this most iconic setting in not one, but two on-screen adaptions. Castle Howard, for many, will always be the home of the Flyte Family and we look forward to sharing this event with you.

The webinar will be broadcast live via Zoom at 1pm GMT on Thursday 28th May 2020 and will be free to join. I have added you to the participants list and you will receive further joining instructions next week. The session will also be recorded and then streamed online at a later date.

Thank you again for getting in touch. We are working hard throughout the ongoing crisis to ensure Castle Howard is protected for future generations to enjoy, and it means a lot to us that you are helping to keep the magic of Castle Howard alive by joining us for this webinar.

We’d also be delighted if you would be happy to post this on the Waugh Society page. Those interested, should email (click to email)

Our apologies if this was misspelled on one of our channels originally!

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Monsignor Rittig Revisited

The Zagreb newspaper Večernji list has published an interview of the writer and religion scholar Margareta Matijevic who has recently written a book about the Yugoslav priest and  politician Svetozar Rittig. From what I can gather from the computerized translation of the article and his Wikipedia entry Rittig was an intellectual priest who tried to hold together a link between the Roman Catholic church in Croatia and the Western Democracies, on the one hand, and the anticlerical Partisans and their Communist political successors, on the other. He was also befriended by Waugh during the latter’s participation in Randolph Churchill’s mission in Topusko. Rittig had joined the Partisans after the fall of Italy, having earlier been banned from Croatia by the Fascist Ustashe puppet regime. The newspaper’s report of the interview begins by mentioning Rittig’s link to Waugh, because a quote from Waugh’s diary contributes to the book’s title:

While in Topusko as a member of the British military mission at the Croatian General Staff, Waugh often hung out with with Rittig and, as a Catholic, attended Rittig’s Mass. In his diary entries, the English intelligence officer and well-known writer called Rittig a valuable link “between partisans and decency”; as Margareta Matijevic explains in the introduction to her book, Waugh was “thinking by ‘decency’ of civil society and the standards of Western democracies”. Hence the title of her book “Between Partisans and Decency”, with the subtitle “Life and Age of Svetozar Rittig (1873-1961)” [“Između partizana i pristojnosti: Život i doba Svetozara Rittiga (1873.– 1961.)”]. This was  published late last year by the publishing house Pleiades and the Croatian Institute of History […]

Waugh mentions his meetings with Rittig several times. Here’s the complete quote of the diary entry (1 October 1944) upon which the book’s title is based:

We had Monsignor Rittig to luncheon today. His story is less gallant than I thought. He originally took refuge from the Ustashe among the Italians, and only went to the Partisans when Italy fell. But he is treated with great honour by the Partisans, says Mass with great reverence and is a valuable link between them and decency.

When Waugh met with Rittig later at the parish house, accompanied by Stephen Clissold, he asked him several questions about the Partisan policy toward the church and, at first, found his answers unsatisfactory:

…I began to think the Monsignor put politics, or, as he would call it, patriotism, above his religion. Then I asked him about the religious practices of the Partisan soldiers. He began to praise their sobriety, purity, courage. I said, Is it better to be a courageous heathen or a cowardly Christian? At that he quite changed, chucked the patriotic line, quoted the 9th beatitude and remarked that it was St Raphael’s Day and that we must all be like St Raphael, and humanely said that it was the priest’s duty to stay with his people no matter how hard it was, and that we had the assurance that evil would not prevail over good. I left him with the assurance that he was a sincere priest…(24 October 1944)

Waugh essentially repeated this conclusion about Monsignor Rittig in his May 1945 report to the government entitled “Church and State in Yugoslavia”, although he noted that his personal opinion was not universally held.

The interview of Matijevic goes on for several pages, in the course of which it appears that, after Yugoslavia fell apart, the new government in independent Croatia wanted to have no more to do with Rittig or his legacy. This was apparently in reaction to his poistion in the Communist regime.  They even went so far as to remove his name from an academic institute in Zagreb dedicated to the study of Old Church Slavonic which he had founded and to which he donated his library. The purpose of the book is to encourage Croatians to reconsider their position. The book is available at this link.

The Croatian passages have been translated by Google with some edits.

UPDATE (20 May 2020): Waugh Society Member and frequent contributor Milena Borden sent the following comment on the interview and book discussed in the above posting:

“Waugh’s name makes a good headline in one of the leading newspapers in Croatia with Margareta Matijević’s discussing Evelyn Waugh’s opinion about Svetozar Rittig’s role in the Second World War.

But it is inaccurate and misleading to say that Waugh thought Rittig an intellectual link between the Tito’s partisans and the idea of civil society, and Western democracy. In his report “Church and State in Liberated Croatia” (Part VI) submitted to the Foreign Office 4th April 1945, Waugh writes about the conversations he had with Rittig about the politics of the church during the advancement of communist rule in Croatia: “The writer of this report spoke to Mgr. Ritoig [sic] on many occasions; Mgr. Ritoig … praised the moral virtues of the partisans and expressed the belief that they would be won back to Christianity under a liberal democratic regime. It was the opinion of the writer that Mgr. Ritoig was a devout and honest man…” Waugh’s assessment of his human character can hardly be extended to the historical social science concept of civil society or to its usage in contemporary political science.

As far as the “Western democracy” is concerned, there is plenty of direct evidence that Waugh rather believed in the idea of the Western civilization with Roman Catholicism being its only and central pillar. What Matijević could have explained is why Waugh as a radical Catholic and anti-communist was not insensitive to Rittig’s personal good faith in religious and political tolerance.”



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BBC to Rebroadcast Brideshead Radio Series

BBC has announced their rebroadcast of the radio version of Brideshead Revisited. This is in the adaptation by Jeremy Front and will appear over four episodes beginning next Monday, 25 May at 1000a on BBC Radio 4 Extra. Each episode will be one hour in length and succeeding episodes will appear over the following three days. It will be available via the internet on BBC iPlayer following the broadcast at this link.

Here’s the BBC’s description:

Midway through the war, a disillusioned Captain Charles Ryder finds himself posted to a remote country retreat. It’s Brideshead Castle, scene of the happiest years of his young, impressionable life and the beginnings of his friendship with Sebastian Flyte – whose presence will forever haunt him.

Evelyn Waugh’s most famous novel of life, love and a forgotten era.

Starring Ben Miles as Charles Ryder, Jamie Bamber as Sebastian Flyte, Anne-Marie Duff as Julia, Abby Ford as Cordelia, Toby Jones as Brideshead, Tom Smith as Boy Mulcaster, Ann Beach as Nanny Hawkins, Martin Hyder as Jasper, Geoffrey Streatfeild as Anthony Blanche, Andrew Wincott as Hooper, Scott Brooksbank as Collins.
Dramatised in four parts by Jeremy Front.

Music by Neil Brand

Director: Marion Nancarrow

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Waugh in Iberia

The Lisbon paper Diario de Noticias has begun the publication of a long article by Antonio Arauja entitled “Uma educação sentimental”. The paper is published weekly and the story’s first installment was printed in last week’s edition. It is essentially the story of how Waugh came to write Brideshead Revisited and seems to be based, at least in this installment, on Paula Byrne’s 2009 work Mad World, which is cited in the Portuguese text. The article begins with a brief history of Waugh’s childhood and education, linking episodes from life where relevant to elements of Brideshead. Much of the latter part of the installment describes the Lygon family and their lives at Madresfield House. The connections between characters in the novel and members of the family, particularly Hugh and Lord Beauchamp, are spelled out with some particularity.

The story is mostly familiar to readers knowing Waugh’s biography, particularly as relflected in Paula Byrnes’s book. There is, however, at least one ironic anecdote that was new to me:

Sometimes Evelyn Waugh was annoyed by his father’s theatricality, especially when he read passages from Dickens aloud. However, he would recall the beauty of the intonation of the father’s voice, which, he said, “was only surpassed by John Gielgud”. He started writing Brideshead Revisited less than a year after his father died, never knowing the fact that, many years after his own death, a television series based on the book would be made. This was in 1981, by Granada Television, and who should play the role of father of Charles Ryder, the alter ego of Evelyn Waugh, but … Sir John Gielgud.

The story is headed with a reproduction of the dust jacket of the first UK edition of the novel. This appears in the original English version. This seems an ambitious undertaking for a non-English language newspaper, but it is perhaps connected to some historic ties between Diario de Noticias and the British publishing industry dating back to DN‘s 19th century origins. The introduction of the novel to and critical acceptance by Portuguese readers has not yet been taken up, but this may come in a future installment. There is a record of a Portuguese language version of the novel dating back as far as 1982 (Reviver o passado em Brideshead). This may have coincided with a broadcast of the Granada TV series in a Portuguese version.

The Spanish daily newspaper La Opinion de Malaga has published a story entitled “Un hotel sevillano” (A Seville Hotel). This is a history and profile of a well-established Seville institution, the Hotel Alfonso XIII, and the article opens with a quote from Evelyn Waugh:

Evelyn Waugh, the British author of “Brideshead Revisited”, arrived in Seville in March 1929. He tells the story in “Labels”, a delicious travel book. The Andalusian city was his penultimate stopover aboard a Norwegian ship, the Stella Maris. It was very appreciated at that time by the most demanding travelers. They had sailed from Gibraltar. According to Waugh, the colony had seemed a sinister place, only bearable thanks to the romantic small cemetery on the Rock, in which a Christian burial was given to the remains of the English sailors who fell in the Battle of Trafalgar. When they anchored in the last navigable stretch of the Guadalquivir, at Seville, Waugh realized that he, who always hated superlatives, had been about to proclaim that Seville was the most beautiful place in the world.

The Hotel Alfonso XIII had opened its doors the previous year. This beautiful and unique hotel is, to this day, the property of the Seville City Council. It was and still is a gem. Its construction lasted 12 years. It was inaugurated on April 28, 1928 by Their Majesties the Kings Don Alfonso XIII and Doña Victoria Eugenia. It was […] created by the Sevillian architect Don José Espiau y Muñoz. It would be the ideal accommodation to host visitors from all over Spain and from Spanish-speaking America who would would come to Seville for the Spanish-American Exposition of 1929….

The juxtaposition of these paragraphs suggests that Waugh stayed in or at least had a meal or a drink at the hotel. But so far as appears in his book, he never stopped there. Since the cruise ship was docked in Seville he probably slept and ate most meals on it. He was much impressed by the city and by the Spanish-American Exhibition where he “spent a delightful afternoon in the two art galleries. One of these contained a remarkable collection of paintings by the Spanish masters–Valasquez, Zubaran, El Greco, Goya, and a great number whose names are not heard outside their country.” (Labels, p. 199)

Translation is by Google with some minor edits.

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David Pryce-Jones’s Signed Books

Literary critic and historian David Pryce-Jones has written another memoir. This one is called Signatures: Literary Encounters of a Lifetime and consists of 90 memoirs of the authors of books in his collection which contain their signatures. In each case the signings were made at his request, usually in a book he already owned. Typically, the signings took place when he arrived to interview the signer. The book has been reviewed widely (e.g.,Wall Street Journal, National Review and Washington Post) and excerpts have appeared in Standpoint (Arthur Koestler) and The Spectator (several subjects) . It was published in the USA last month and in the UK last week.

Among those memorialized, there are several of Waugh’s generation or the next one up or down. These include Harold Acton, Cyril Connolly, J B Priestley, Rose Macauley, Somerset Maugham, Aldous Huxley, Kingsley Amis and V S Naipaul. According to Joseph Epstein, who reviews the book in the Wall Street Journal, the essays provide a record of the decline of English culture over the period they cover: “traditions in dress, wit, intellectual life, were admirable in all ways” as exemplified in the early periods by those such as Winston Churchill, Evelyn Waugh, Rebecca West and Hugh Trevor-Roper. But those described from more recent times make England “seem more than a touch shabby, dull, dreary, symbolized by those two knights of woeful countenance Sir Mick Jagger and Sir Elton John” as well as the yet unknighted Jeremy Corbyn.

Epstein singles out for special praise Pryce-Jones’s portrait of Cyril Connolly who “was much taken by the endurance of writing. His own, though still readable, has not held up and he never came near writing the masterpiece that was the name of his desire.” That portrait ends with Epstein’s thoughts  “on the relations among Connolly, Evelyn Waugh and George Orwell about whom Mr Pryce-Jones writes, ‘These three writers disagreed but their opinion of each other is in the literary centerpiece of the age’.”

It seems odd that Pryce-Jones does not include a memoir of Waugh. But this may well be due to the fact that Waugh didn’t meet the criterion of having signed a book for Pryce-Jones. As noted in a previous post, Waugh seems to have kept him at some distance on the few occasions when they met, which were mostly arranged through the efforts of Theresa Waugh or her mother. Evelyn had a particular dislike for David Pryce-Jones’s father, Alan, and that may have made him wary of befriending his offspring. And it can’t have helped things that David Pryce-Jones wrote an unfavorable review in his 20s (Critical Heritage, p. 272: In an editorial comment, Martin Stannard wrote, “The piece offended Waugh who lost no time in informing its author of the fact”). Waugh wasn’t to know at the time that, after his death, Pryce-Jones would edit what has turned out to be a very valuable source of biographical material: Evelyn Waugh and His World (1973).

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Waugh’s Selfie

In a recent post we mentioned Evelyn Waugh’s appearance in a response to  Spectator competition #3148-Selfie. This was set by Lucy Vickery in the 10,000th edition of the magazine:

‘Some famous painters are thought to have slipped small self-portraits into their work. What if a well-known novelist had done the same with an added minor character? You are invited to submit the resulting extract (up to 150 words and please specify the author).’

When the results of the competition were announced, the Waugh entry, alas, was not among the five winning entries. It did, however, receive what can fairly be described as an honorable mention by Lucy Vickery:

‘There were creditable Hemingway cameos […] and I enjoyed J C H Mounsey’s sketch of self-confessed misanthrope Evelyn Waugh, and Martin Hurst’s of the rather less self-aware Jeffrey Archer.’

After our reader/contributor Dave Lull contacted Mr Mounsey, he kindly agreed to our publication of his Waugh pastiche:

Presently another figure appeared. He was short and stout and wore a tweed suit in a rather noticeable check. He had a florid complexion and fierce blue eyes and seemed to be furious about something.

‘Where is my butler?’ he demanded, waving a walking stick.

The attendant stepped forward. ‘He is assisting Lord Brassock with his morning bath.’

The angry man considered this. ‘Oh. Well. If his lordship needs him .…’

‘Quite so,’ said the attendant. ‘If you will return to your room, I will call you when Mr Bossom reappears.’

‘Mr Wagg has been with us for many years,’ he said as the little man stumped off. ‘He is under the delusion that he has a large staff waiting on him. In fact, there is only myself, the other nurses won’t have anything to do with him.’

‘Why not?’ asked William.

‘Because he finds it so hard to be nice.’

(Evelyn Waugh)

Thanks to all concerned.



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Brideshead Webinar Scheduled for 28 May

Castle Howard has announced a webinar to be conducted via Twitter on Thursday, 28 May. Here’s the text of the announcement:

The 28th May will mark the 75th Anniversary of the first publication of Brideshead Revisited. Our Curator will run a special free webinar on 28th to celebrate Castle Howard’s relationship with Evelyn Waugh’s classic novel.

E-mail at (click to email) to participate.

More details will be posted as they are received. Meanwhile, Chris Ridgway, who is Curator at Castle Howard and has previously written of its Brideshead connection, has recently posted an article that briefly addresses that theme. He first writes a fairly detailed description of the approach to Castle Howard from the south (ie. from York) which is the direction by which most visitors arrive. The 1981 Granada TV adaptation presumably used that approach for their arrival but the later film adaptors decided to arrive from the other direction to avoid repetition. As Ridgway notes in his article:

Nor should we forget the small print that states “Other approaches are available”. Evelyn Waugh first saw Castle Howard, from the less embellished northern end of the Avenue, and that inspired his creation of Brideshead Castle, and in particular Charles Ryder’s rapturous description of arriving there on an idyllic summer’s day. And Waugh’s novel offers another perspective, the ‘Revisited’ in Brideshead Revisited is a reminder that departure can be as significant as arrival, if only because when leaving one has a strong urge to return.

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