Conference to Consider War Correspondents Between the Wars

A conference will be convened on 9-10 May at the University of Angers, France, to consider the history of war correspondents reporting during the period between the two world wars. The title of the conference is “Correspondants de guerre: aire latine 1918-1939” (“The War Correspondent in the Latin Countries: 1918-1939”). Among the topics to be considered will be the Spanish Civil War and the Italian War in Abyssinia. One of the papers to be presented on 9 May will relate to Evelyn Waugh’s reports from Abyssinia for the Daily Mail. Here is an English-language summary of that paper (it will apparently be presented in English at the conference):

Bastian Matteo Scianna
University of Potsdam
Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Fellow at the London School of Economics 2018/19
« Formative Experiences: Foreign Correspondents in the Italo-Ethiopian War (1935-36) »

The distresses of objectivity in conflict reporting have not emerged during the wars in Vietnam or Iraq. The Spanish Civil War is usually taken as prime example of a clash of ideologies, which comprised many international journalists as active propagandists. This article highlights a prior conflagration of great importance: the Italo-Ethiopian War (1935-36). It was a formative experience for a whole generation of correspondents who rose to eminence thereafter. Still, their role in this war has hitherto been neglected and their reporting has not been closer analysed. Therefore, the Abyssinian War should not be side-lined, but moved centre stage as defining experience of a generation of foreign correspondents. By doing so, this paper shows how the cases of ‘journalism of attachment’ during the Spanish Civil War often had their immediate precedent in Ethiopia, and offers a historian’s perspective on the troubles of uncritically relying on war reports as sources.
In order to shed more light on the reporting, the paper will first analyse the reporting of two journalists who covered the war from the Ethiopian side and whose writings had the strongest influence on the war’s perception: Evelyn Waugh and George L. Steer. Hereafter, two reporters employed on the Italian side will be looked at: Herbert L. Matthews and General John F. C. Fuller. This paper can only scrutinise a few eminent (Anglo-American) correspondents, thus it will exclude the up to 200 Italian journalists who reported the conflict and largely portrayed it as liberation for the Ethiopians and muted the countless Italian war. [sic] Likewise, details on the diplomatic and military aspects will have to be spared. The paper will argue that many claims regarding the Abyssinian War, based on journalists’ accounts, should be reconsidered and critical approaches, as adopted for the Spanish Civil War, finally applied to this important formative experience of a whole generation of correspondents.

George Steer’s career as related to Waugh’s was explored in an earlier post. More detailed information on the conference is available from Manuelle Peloille at the University of Angers, France.


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Easter Roundup

–The Australian religious journal Catholic Weekly has posted an essay entitled “The Easter yearning”.  This is by Karl Schmude and begins with a discussion of the many ways Easter is misunderstood today. Among the examples is this from Evelyn Waugh:

It may seem that our age has produced a secular version of the Resurrection, treating the deceased person as if he were still physically alive. Evelyn Waugh, in his novel The Loved One, savagely satirises the presentation of death in American culture. He captures, in the cosmetician Aimee Thanatogenous, our illusions about death, and the tendency to satisfy spiritual longings with material deceits. […] Aimee’s work in the mortuary promotes the illusion of material survival – as a substitute for bodily resurrection and spiritual immortality.

After presenting his catalogue of error, the essayist turns for his conclusion to Georges Bernanos who wrote Diary of a Country Priest. That was a book also admired by Waugh who reviewed it for Night and Day in 1937 where he described it as a “really fine book.” EAR, p. 209-10.

–A booksblogger on JacquiWine’s Journal has recently finished Waugh’s A Handful of Dust and liked what she read:

Waugh uses dialogue to great effect in this novel, frequently moving the narrative along through a series of conversations – sometimes face-face, other times on the phone. The style is pin-sharp and pithy […] A Handful of Dust is an entertaining yet bittersweet romp, a story shot through with Waugh’s characteristically caustic wit. And yet there is an undercurrent of despair here too, a sense of hopelessness […] This is a tonally sophisticated novel with more to say than might appear at first sight.

The Guardian also addresses the film adaptation of this novel as part of its ranking,  in order of merit, of all the films in which Judi Dench appears:

8. A Handful of Dust (1988)
Dench is as mean and sharp as a carpet tack in this version of the Evelyn Waugh novel: she is the grasping mother of John Beaver, the slippery social climber who has an affair with Kristin Scott Thomas’s Brenda Last. It is this Mrs Beaver who is the driving force for John’s greedy demand for money in the divorce settlement.

It is worth noting that the adaptation of Handful was produced and directed by the same team that made the 1981 TV film adaptation of Brideshead Revisited: Derek Granger and Charles Sturridge. The number 1 ranking of Dench films goes to Notes on a Scandal (2006)

–A drinks blog (Master of Malt) in an article discussing its cocktail of the week called Martiki takes up the subject of the liqueur called kümmel, which is one of the cocktail’s ingredients. This somewhat forgotten liqueur is described in the article:

Kümmel gets its peculiar taste from caraway seeds along with cumin, fennel and other spices. […] Despite its Baltic origins, kümmel used to be immensely popular among the British upper classes. There are mentions of it in Evelyn Waugh’s works. But the only places you will see kümmel drunk today are golf clubs and old-fashioned gentlemen’s clubs.

According to a Google Books search, kümmel is mentioned in at least four of Waugh’s novels: Vile Bodies, Black Mischief, Put Out More Flags (p. 67) and Officers and Gentlemen (p. 195).

–A religious weblog called The Virtue Blog has posted a podcast in which two scholars discuss Brideshead Revisited. Here’s a description of this episode:

In episode 10 of the Sacred and Profane Love podcast, host Jennifer A. Frey [Asst Prof of Philosophy at University of South Carolina] has a  conversation with scholar Paul Mankowski, SJ, about Evelyn Waugh’s popular novel, Brideshead Revisited: The Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder. They discuss Charles Ryder’s experiences of love, freedom, grace, and redemption as he becomes erotically drawn into the rarefied world of Lord Sebastian and Lady Julia Flyte.

–A Catalan-language digital newspaper El, based in Barcelona, has posted a review of Ryszard Kapuscinski’s 1978 book on Ethiopia The Emperor, now published in Catalan. The review explains that Kapuscinski was familiar with the country as well as Africa in general when he returned shortly after the 1974 coup that overthrew the Haile Selassie regime. Waugh’s writings on the country are also introduced into the discussion:

The mirror of Evelyn Waugh
One of the primordial works of journalistic literature [about Ethiopia] in the 1930s was Remote People by Evelyn Waugh, a work in which this English writer explained his attendance at the lavish coronation festivities of Haile Selassie as Negus, King of Kings. He did it with great literary talent and with a great sense of humor, but also with great doses of racism, classism and ethnocentrism. The emperor of Kapuściński is, to a certain extent, icing on the story of Waugh. While the Englishman wrote about the beginning of the reign of Selassie, the Pole explains the evolution and the end. But while Waugh was always distant towards Africans, the Pole questions the Ethiopians and is interested in their interpretations. He interviews the courtiers and neither ridicules nor questions them, but reflects their positions. In spite of everything, in the few reflections of the journalist himself, [Kapuscinski] clearly leaves his sympathy towards the military coup participants. […]

The translation is by Google with a few edits.

–A Poland-based weblog (“Warszawa Jeziorki”) has posted an article about the strained correspondence between Evelyn Waugh and John Betjeman in the late 1940s where Waugh tried to bully Betjeman into converting to Roman Catholicism. The article refers to the discussion in vol. 2 of Bevis Hillier’s biography: John Betjeman–New Fame, New Love where both sides of their conversation (as well as some interjections from John’s wife Penelope) can be found.   The blogger (Michael Dembinski) is reminded of the sort of debate that rages today between Englishmen on the question of EU membership:

But who was the Leaver and who the Remainer? Betjeman didn’t like ‘abroad’. He felt uncomfortable there, the natives didn’t speak English and the food tasted funny. Waugh was far more cosmopolitan, enjoyed foreign travel and promoted a supranational church. He was concerned about the fate of Roman Catholics abandoned, as he saw it, to Stalin at the end of WW2. Betjeman was more practical, concerned with the fate of his parishioners in Uffington should he and his wife renounce Anglicanism. The church there, wrote Betjeman to Waugh, was the village’s “only bulwark against complete paganism”. Betjeman bridled at Waugh’s suggestion that he chose Anglicanism for aesthetic reasons, saying that his relationship with religion was “a stern struggle”. I rather suspect that had they been alive today, both men, born in Edwardian England, would have been mildly in favour of Brexit. But then perhaps Waugh might have been tempted to stay in the EU with Roman Catholic countries like France, Italy, Spain and Poland.

Hillier writes (p. 307) that the two writers’ friendship was “somehow never the same again after the epistolary battering and Penelope’s conversion.” He had earlier explained that Waugh played no role in convincing Penelope to convert, but Betjeman may not have seen it that way.

–Finally, for those readers living in or near the Twin Cities, a conference has been announced for Sunday, 5 May on the topic “The Fact of the Cross: St. Helena & the Claim of Christ’s Victory”. This will be held in Minneapolis at the Church of the Holy Cross. Among the papers listed is this: Fr. Byron Hagan, Leaving Home for Lands Unknown: Evelyn Waugh’s HelenaThis will be presented at 2pm in the opening session. Details of the conference are available here.



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New Study of Decline and Fall Published

A new article discussing class structure in Evelyn Waugh’s Decline and Fall has been published and posted by the Journal of English Literature and Cultural Studies. This is a peer-reviewed academic journal affiliated with the Eurasian Applied Linguistics Society in Istanbul. The paper is written by Assistant Professor of English Zachary Showers of Florida A&M University and entitled “Independent Systems of Ideology: Evelyn Waugh’s Decline and Fall“. Here is an abstract:

Evelyn Waugh’s imaginary perfection involves defining Englishness as a monolithic code of morality and class structure, one that actually never exists universally and is mostly idyllic, but is nevertheless the standard to which society should be held. Invariably, Waugh’s Englishness is a hegemonic, stratified and rigid phenomenon; his novels belie a deep distrust of the ascendant lower-class. Englishness is what separates Waugh’s cultural compatriots—those that share his deeply conservative, moralistic and hegemonic ideology—from those Waugh derides as pretenders to the same. Waugh is doing much more than simply making fun of the wealthy and clueless; he is also blaming them for abandoning a more perfect past in favor of a shoddy future. The upper-class characters he portrays are often woefully out of touch, immoral, even reprobate, but their primary failing is an abandonment of tradition in favor of an unsatisfying modernity. Waugh is, as the title Decline and Fall suggests, watching the gradual disintegration of what he believes to be a great society, and showing it as beset on all sides by people who simply do not belong.

It appears that the full text may be accessed from the Journal’s website linked above.

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Bellamy’s Boosted

Two London papers have this week profiled Bellamy’s restaurant on Bruton Place in Mayfair:

Ben McCormack in the Daily Telegraph on Monday (15 April) begins by making a meal (if you will excuse the expression) of the two visits by the Queen since the restaurant opened in 2004. He then tries to make his way through her menu choices but deviates after caviar and smoked eel mousse, substituting steak and frites for his main. He was persuaded against selection of her choice of Dover sole for his main by the plain looking example served with oil and lemon to an nearby table. The restaurant offers what McCormack calls “approachable exclusivity” and is described by its owners as “a club without a sub”. In his conclusion, he explains that “Bellamy’s name is a homage to the gentleman’s club in Evelyn Waugh’s Sword of Honour trilogy but also a pun on ‘bel ami’ French for ‘handsome friend.’. McCormack describes the restaurant as inspired as much by Parisian brasseries as London members’ clubs.

Later in the week, Tanya Gold described her meal at Bellamy’s eaten for The Spectator, possibly on the same night McCormack made his visit (Gold was there on a wet Tuesday). She goes into a bit more detail about the Waugh connection:

Bellamy’s is named for the club in Evelyn Waugh’s Sword of Honour trilogy. That was probably its first mistake if it wants a large clientele now: the pool of Waugh-lovers fascinated by the decline of the aristocracy — a trend that has stalled, if it ever existed, which should give them comfort — has shrunk through heart attack, death and, likely, exile. The survivors call Bellamy’s ‘a club without a sub[scription]’. That is probably its second mistake. The name is also a pun on Guy de Maupassant’s Bel Ami, a novel about journalism. It is not my kind of journalism, or novel. Novels about journalism are usually as awful as novels by journalists. It is obviously designed for an older generation of British aristocrats during their mythical decline.

After rather exhausting the topic of the Queen’s association with the restaurant in a detailed comparison between its decor and that of the only room of Balmoral Castle open to the public, Gold concludes:

It may be the ideal restaurant of the mythical Spectator reader. It is less expensive than Wilton’s and less gaudy than Rules. It is, as Franco-Belgian brasseries in London go, perfect. The food is superb. […]

Both reporters mention a three-course prix fixe menu available for £29.50. I checked the menu on the internet and, indeed, what looks like a bargain for central London is available at both lunch and dinner. Alas, it does not stretch to the Queen’s selections, but those are available on the regular a la carte menu at what also seem reasonable prices for this location.

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Winter Evelyn Waugh Studies

The Winter 2018 issue (No. 49.3) of Evelyn Waugh Studies has been published. The contents are described below. A copy is posted on the EW Society website:


Jacqueline Condon, “The Mystery of Grace: Brideshead Revisited as a Chestertonian Detective Story”

IntroductionG. K. Chesterton, famous both as a Catholic apologist and a mystery writer, proposed that, “The Ideal Detective Story…need not be superficial. In theory, though not commonly in practice, it is possible to write a subtle and creative novel, of deep philosophy and delicate psychology, and yet cast it in the form of a sensational shocker” (“The Ideal Detective Story” 178). While Evelyn Waugh’s masterpiece Brideshead Revisited is hardly a penny dreadful of cloak and dagger intrigue, this paper will contend that it nevertheless answers Chesterton’s challenge by drawing on the tropes of detective fiction and applying them to serious moral and theological purposes. In particular, Waugh is responding to Chesterton’s metaphor of the Catholic Church as a merciful “divine detective” hunting down sinners in order to save them. The novel’s exemplars of staunch Catholicism, Lady Marchmain and Bridey, attempt to take on the role of investigators in order to uphold the family’s Catholic identity. However, their efforts backfire and only drive their prodigal family members further away. They are not true detectives but only inept sidekicks. The true “divine detective,” grace itself, is nevertheless able to triumph in a moment of dramatic revelation worthy of a mystery novel, bringing about the conversions not only of Sebastian and Julia, but Lord Marchmain and Charles as well. 


Azania, Rhode Island

Narrative Paths: African Travel in Modern Fiction and Nonfiction, by Kai Mikkonen. Reviewed by Nicholas Vincenzo Barney 


John H. Wilson Jr. Evelyn Waugh Undergraduate Essay Contest

Peter Howell, The Debagging in Decline and Fall


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Evelyn Waugh and the Notre Dame Fire

References to Evelyn Waugh have appeared in two stories relating to the destructive fire at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. Posted in the Spectator, an article by Douglas Murray opens with this:

Civilization only ever hangs by a thread. On Monday one of those threads seems to have frayed, perhaps snapped. It is impossible to watch the footage coming out of Paris, all that can be done is to groan and turn away. It is not possible to watch the spire of Notre-Dame collapse. It is not possible to watch the great cathedral consumed by fire.

Evelyn Waugh once said that in the event of a fire in his house, if he was able only to save his children or his library, he would save his library because books were irreplaceable. Only at a moment such as this is it possible to concede the slightest truth in that remark. Almost anything could be borne rather than the loss of this building.

The reference to Evelyn Waugh is largely correct in restating Waugh’s priorities but is taken a bit out of context and somewhat overstated.  In a diary entry for 13 November 1943, he refers to announcements that the Germans are setting up “rocket guns” in France that will carry “vast explosive charges into London.” These are no doubt the V-1 and V-2 rockets the first of which were launched in June 1944, shortly after the Normandy landings. In anticipation of these attacks, Waugh had ordered the books he had been keeping at the Hyde Park Hotel to be returned to his library at Piers Court for safekeeping. His entry continues:

At the same time I have advocated my son coming to London. It would seem from this that I prefer my books to my son. I can argue that firemen rescue children and destroy books, but the truth is that a child is easily replaced while a book destroyed is utterly lost; also a child is eternal; but most that I have a sense of absolute possession over my library and not over my nursery. (Diaries, p. 555)

The Catholic World Report has an article about the fire in its “Dispatch” section. After restating the profound sense of loss caused by the fire, the article also sees some signs of hope:

One can readily see in the fire a metaphor for the state of the Faith in Europe in this increasingly secular age. But after the Cross comes Resurrection—and yesterday provided signs of hope.

The first sign came in the immediate concern expressed for the Blessed Sacrament. That the tabernacle was emptied and Our Lord’s Real Presence in the Eucharist was saved from harm is a consolation. The priests and firefighters who facilitated this reminded the world that the whole purpose for the construction of Notre-Dame in the first place was to be a worthy dwelling place for God. I am reminded of Cordelia’s conversation with Charles in Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited. She tells him about the closing of the chapel at their family estate after the funeral of her mother and explains having to watch the priest empty the tabernacle, leaving its golden [sic] door ajar. “I suppose none of this makes sense to you, Charles, poor agnostic.” she said. “I stayed there till he was gone, and then, suddenly, there wasn’t any chapel any more, just an oddly decorated room.”

The article by Fr Seán Connolly goes on to see other signs of hope in the rescue of the Crown of Thorns relic and the preservation of the cruciform stone walls of the structure. Having just read yesterday Ann Pasternak Slater’s essay on Brideshead in her insightful and entertaining book Evelyn Waugh: Writers and their Work, I was struck by one slight misstatement in the CWR article. Pasternak Slater makes a point, for various reasons, of the fact that the door of the tabernacle at Brideshead is bronze, not gold (1960, pp. 47-8). Indeed, she made this seemingly minor point so well, that I was immediately reminded of it when I read the CWR article.

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–A recent post in the website announces that the Holy Stairs in Rome have recently been reopened after an extended period of restoration. The story cites Evelyn Waugh’s Helena for background:

The great Catholic novelist Evelyn Waugh had a special devotion to St Helena, and in his fictionalized account of her life, gives a very funny explanation of how the Holy Stairs might have come to Rome in the first place. When St Helena arrives in Jerusalem, she is taken on a tour of the local governor’s palace, which he refers to, in the language of British Imperial administration, as “Government House.” (The book is filled with clever anachronisms of this sort.)

“Helena, alighting, seemed to regard the place critically. The major-domo … tried to put a good face on it by remarking that this was originally Pilate’s Praetorium. It might have been. No one was quite sure. On the whole most people thought that it was, though certainly much altered. Helena was plainly impressed. The major-domo went further. These marble steps, he explained, were the identical stairway which Our Lord had descended on his way to death. The effect was beyond his expectation. The aged empress knelt down, there and then in her travelling cloak, and painfully and prayerfully climbed the twenty-eight steps on her knees. … Next day she ordered her private cohort of sappers to take the whole staircase to pieces, number them, crate them and pack them on wagons. ‘I am sending it to Pope Sylvester,’ she said. ‘A thing like this ought to be in the Lateran. You clearly do not attach proper importance to it here.’

–Irish novelist Colm Tóibín has written a journal describing his recent cancer treatment. This appears in the current issue of the London Review of Books. Toward the end, as he awaits release from the hospital after his latest treatment, he writes:

A rumour spread in the hospital that a doctor who knew about blood clots would visit me later in the day. Only he could decide whether I went home or not. He had the same name as a character in Wallace Stevens’s Notes towards a Supreme Fiction, who was also referred to as ‘major man’. By this time I was confronting the fact that I was slowly going mad, and that this wasn’t helped by the steroids and the lack of sleep and the general excitement about going home and seeing my boyfriend. In bed, I began to whisper ‘major man’ as Catholics in a similar state might call out the name of Jesus or his mother. I also prepared a joke to tell this doctor so that he might accept my urge to go home. Preparation was important, as I can’t really tell jokes. I just don’t know how. I can try to tell them, but they come out skewed and flat and somewhat sad.

When the doctor arrived, I worried, at first, that I had begun the joke too quickly. It was about Randolph Churchill having a tumour removed and the tumour turning out to be benign and Evelyn Waugh saying that they had removed the only part of Randolph that wasn’t malignant. The doctor laughed. He seemed like a good-humoured guy. He checked that I would be able to inject myself in the stomach every night with some blood-thinning agent. He told me not to take any long-haul flights for the moment. He suggested I see him before Christmas. And then he told me I could go home.

–Interviewed in the New Statesman, veteran conservative political commentator Roger Scruton alludes to another well-worn Waugh quotation:

Evelyn Waugh once lamented that the Conservative Party had “never put the clock back a single second”. Does Scruton agree? “I think that’s his romanticism, of course it’s true. But it’s not entirely true. What the word conservative means is not putting things back but conserving them. There are things that are threatened and you love them, so you want to keep them.”

–Literary journalist Lucy Freeman comments in her Gulf News column about the recent extension of the Brexit deadline. Noting that she generally opposes such postponements, she quotes Evelyn Waugh as an example of the importance of maintaining a schedule to work against:

On May 7, 1936, [sic] Evelyn Waugh, English writer of novels, biographies and travel books, and a prolific journalist, wrote in his diary: “Children have all returned to school. The weather is delicious, the house is silent, there is no reason for me not to work. I will try one day soon.” Eventually, he knuckles down. What quiet triumph there is in the line: “I did a little work.”

The correct date is May 7, 1956 (Diaries, p. 760).. In 1936 Waugh was unmarried and childless.

–Finally, in a publisher’s announcement of the reissue in paperback of Juan Tazón’s  The Life and Times of Thomas Stukeley, Waugh’s characterization of the subject in his Edmund Campion is quoted:

Described variously as picturesque, quixotic, cloudy minded, remarkable, and (by Evelyn Waugh) as a “preposterous and richly comic figure”, Stukeley remains a flamboyant and fascinating character in the imagination of succeeding generations.

Waugh goes on to explain that it was the discovery of Stukeley’s reckless offer to the King of Spain to seize Ireland for that country that required Campion to become a fugitive.

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Richard Ingrams Remembers Auberon Waugh

The Catholic Herald has published a remembrance of Auberon Waugh by Richard Ingrams. This is occasioned by the recent collection of Auberon’s articles in A Scibbler in Soho. Ingrams was editor of both Private Eye and The Oldie when Auberon was a contributor and also recalls his less well-remembered employment by the Catholic Herald. Here’s an excerpt:

The book contains many reminders of Waugh’s unique talents, including some welcome extracts from his long-running Private Eye Diary, in which he adopted the persona of a wealthy aristocrat consulted by politicians and in regular touch with members of the Royal Family. It was done so authoritatively that some readers believed him when, for example, he wrote that he had recently been enjoying tea and cucumber sandwiches with the Queen Mother and advising her about Edward Heath’s Conservative government. It may seem like a work of wild fantasy yet his Diary (reprinted in two books) gives a more convincing picture of the strange world of the 1970s than many a serious work of social history.

Apart from these extracts from Private Eye, I would have liked to see some of Waugh’s contributions to the Catholic Herald, to which he was recruited in 1963 to supply a column on current affairs for a weekly fee of eight guineas. It was to be the forerunner of many subsequent columns in a variety of magazines and newspapers and, looking back, Waugh considered that his CH contributions were “more reasonable and politely argued” than anything that came later. Nevertheless, they managed to provoke a storm of protest from readers, leaving Waugh with the constant fear of getting the sack, the eight guinea fee being his main source of income at the time.

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Academic Roundup: Vagabond-language and decadent arcadias

The following articles appeared in academic journals during 2018 and were not previously mentioned in our postings. Abstracts or excerpts from introductory materials are provided as available:

–Helena M. Tomko, “A Good Laugh is Hard to Find: From destructive satire to sacramental humor in Evelyn Waugh’s Helena“, Christianity and Literature, v. 67, issue 2, pp. 312-31, 1 March 2018:

Abstract. Despite Evelyn Waugh’s conviction that Helena (1950) was his greatest work, the novel receives less critical attention than his well-known interwar satires and his postwar hit, Brideshead Revisited (1945). This article argues that the novel accomplishes Waugh’s self-conscious postwar effort to rehouse his satiric impulses in a mode that resists both the “dark” laughter of modernism and the sentimentality risked in mid-century Catholic fiction. With metafictive attention to genre and style, Helena exemplifies what this article terms “sacramental humor.” Waugh’s fictionalized St. Helena embodies the contrast between satire that seeks to correct or destroy and humor that seeks to heal.

The author is Asst Prof of Literature at Villanova University.

–Annabel Williams, “Vagabond-language scrawled on gate-posts: locating home in Waugh’s travel writing”, Textual Practice, v. 32, issue 1, pp. 41-58, 2018:

Abstract. This essay establishes a framework for comparing Waugh’s interwar travelogues with his fiction, by aligning the tropes of home and travel. I will propose that, in his travel writing, and figuratively speaking, Waugh never left England. His impulses to travel, and so his representations of ‘abroad’, are involved in an entrenched desire to find or create a home. Through readings of Brideshead Revisited, Black Mischief and Remote People, I examine the aporia emerging from a disjunction between the falsely presented factual places and half-imagined fictive places that span genres in Waugh’s oeuvre. Heidegger’s theorisation of dwelling offers a productive means of analysing the divide between home and homelessness in Waugh. I will suggest that a certain aspect of Waugh’s writing – a ‘vagabond-language’ – destabilises the binaries of remoteness and the homely, the foreign and the native, with which his work is obsessed. Debbie Lisle’s investigation of geopolitical discourse will help an understanding of spatial representation in Waugh’s work and the textuality of his constructions of home. Though Waugh could neither leave home, nor solve the overwhelming question of deracination for his time, his work encourages us to engage in the remoteness of home, and perhaps to find home in the remote.

The author is a member of the English Faculty, Merton College, Oxford.

–J V Long, “Edmund Wilson Had No Idea: Brideshead Revisited as Catholic Tract”, Renascence: Essays on Values in Literature, v. 70, issue 1, pp. 43-58, Winter 2018

Abstract. Evidence in the text of Brideshead Revisited shows that it is inadequate simply to link Evelyn Waugh’s conversion to Roman Catholicism with his ostensibly reactionary sensibility. Rather than merely providing an exercise in apologetics, Waugh’s novel displays religious experience that is grounded in the author’s conversion and practice of his faith. The novel mines a deep understanding of both the complex experience of English Catholicism and the riches of the liturgical drama and texts that were experienced during the Holy Week Tenebrae services with which he was familiar.

The author is Associate Professor at Portland State University and Chairman of the Evelyn Waugh Society.

–Martin B Lockherd, “Decadent Arcadias, Wild(e) Conversions and Queer Celibacies in Brideshead Revisited“, MFS Modern Fiction Studies, v. 64, issue 2, pp. 249-63, Summer 2018:

Abstract. Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited is among the most important and influential Catholic novels in the English language. It is also one of the queerest novels of its time. This essay explores the diverse ways in which Waugh’s novel traverses the apparent divisions that separate Catholic and queer sexuality. Drawing on archival research and recent theoretical and theological insights regarding celibacy, it argues that Brideshead participates in the aesthetic of fin de siècle British Decadence as a means of driving its central characters toward a form of sexuality that is at once potentially orthodox and queer.

The author is Asst Prof of English at Schreiner Univerisity.

–D Marcel DeCoste, “Contested Confessions: The Sins of the Press and Evelyn Waugh’s False Penance in The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold“, Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture, v 21, issue 3, pp 62-84, Summer 2018:

Excerpt. I contend […] that Waugh’s novel neither depicts Pinfold’s confession nor enacts Waugh’s own. Rather, it is, as its title proclaims, the story of an ordeal, an agonizing and agonistic “test of guilt or innocence,” from which Waugh’s stand-in emerges, we are told, “victor” (OGP, 231). What the book exposes, then, is not the penitent-author’s grievous faults, but an author’s contest with his critics, and what it seeks, by its victory, to establish, is the falseness of those critics’ stock formulation and reprobation of Waugh’s sins. [Footnote omitted.]

The author is Professor of English at the University of Regina and a member of the Evelyn Waugh Society.

–Finally, Modern Language Review, v. 113, issue 1, pp. 235-37 (2018) prints a review by Barbara Cooke of Naomi Milthorpe’s book Evelyn Waugh’s Satire: Texts and Subtexts. See previous post.



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Evelyn Waugh, d. 10 April 1966. R. I. P.

Evelyn Waugh died on this day in 1966 at his home in Combe Florey, Somerset.

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