Waugh Short Stories in German Translation

A collection of 15 Waugh short stories has been published in German as Ausflug ins wirkliche Leben (Trip to Real Life). The book, reviewed by Diana Wieser, is a recent paperback reprint of the 2013 edition, both published by Diogenes Verlag in Zurich. There are several translators credited. The review appears on a website called SL Leselust. Here are some translated excerpts:

Often copied, never bested: English eccentricity – who does not love him? Author Evelyn Waugh is the uncrowned master of this supreme discipline. No one else knows how to pack nasty intrigues, great attitudes and the strange pairings of the English upperclass in such unerring punchlines. Waugh is a brilliant observer. …

Between tea dance and tennis tournament the world is not in order. The British upperclass has its own problems in the 20s to 50s. In the elite boarding school, peers test themselves in power games, on an East African colonial island, seven bachelors compete for the daughter of an oil magnate, the only unmarried white man far and wide. A cuckholded husband is looking for the big adventure in the Amazon…Waugh finds a big favor in lunatics of all kinds, be it in the sanatorium or in the film business, be it war-traumatized ex-soldiers or megalomaniac lap-dogs. Many stories have a serious background, for example through the theme of the two world wars. This presents Waugh wrapped in a “clotted cream” of irony, acumen and linguistic skill. Behind the force of humor are subtle messages. Not infrequently, the conclusion remains open or ambiguous. The beginning is invariably brilliant…

As can be seen from the examples, interpersonal relationships and their inherent tragedy form an essential theme in the prose of the author. There are many women who are smarter, cunning, and more sexually active than their husbands. …. His first marriage to Evelyn (!) Gardner ended due to the many flings of his wife, who had already been engaged nine times before their marriage and in the 20s shared a flat with a girlfriend founded. At that time a scandal that even landed in the press.But what sets Waugh’s great class apart is that he does not take a bitter perspective on relationship histories by attributing victimhood. …

Evelyn Waugh is more relevant than ever. His stories have lost nothing of humor and sophistication. On the contrary, reading them today is even more fun! Simply because they are sometimes politically incorrect–in a witty, nonchalant way. Who else could report on a future with euthanasia tourism, if not Waugh? Whether homosexuality, the loss of virginity or meek serial killer – as usual black-humored Evelyn Waugh ventures on every subject. It is not for nothing that TC Boyle, one of the modern grandmasters of bitter bad tops, calls him a role model.

Conclusion: Buy! Read! Have a good time!

The translation of the review is by Google with minor edits.


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A Visit to Burgh House Exhibit: Evelyn Waugh and Basil Bourchier

Milena Borden has kindly sent this report of her visit to a Waugh-related exhibit in North London which was mentioned in a previous post:

Closing this Sunday, the exhibition A Totally Preposterous Parson: Evelyn Waugh and Basil Bourchier is displayed in the very small and narrow hallway connecting other rooms on the second floor of the charming Burgh House, situated on a pretty, leafy corner of Hampstead just over a mile from Evelyn Waugh’s family home on 145 North End Road. There are two large portraits of the Reverend Basil Graham Bourchier hanging on each of the side walls alongside a smaller one of Dame Henrietta Barnett.  

The Evelyn Waugh display is in a glass cabinet under one of the portraits. It  consists of two books and a document: a copy of the first edition of A Little Learning (1964) showing the front cover and another one opened on pp. 132-33 pointing to paragraphs describing Rev. Bourchier of  the church “St Jude” in Hampstead Garden Suburb as “a totally preposterous parson”. Next to these is a bound volume with “St Jude’s Parish Paper, 7 July 1916” where the confirmation of Arthur Evelyn St. John Waugh on St. Peter’s Day, 29 June 1916 is recorded. There is also an A4 page with written information by the curator Reverend Alan Walker describing the relationship between Waugh and the vicar and concluding that, despite the ridicule, it was Bourchier who introduced Waugh to religion: “As a schoolboy [Waugh] was clearly amused by Bourchier’s idiosyncratic presentation of Anglo-Catholicism, but he does not seem to have doubted its essential truth, indeed for all Bourchier’s ‘extravagant displays’, it was at St Jude’s,” explains Walker, that Waugh first “had some glimpse of higher mysteries.” Walker has also written a book about the subject of the exhibit (109 pages) which is for sale at the price of £10 in the shop downstairs.

The history of Waugh’s relationship to the Church of England, his early childhood years in Hampstead and his introduction to the liberal theology preached by Bourchier is displayed very nicely here. Except it is, perhaps unintentionally, misleading. Waugh converted to Roman Catholicism in 1930 and connected his life to what he viewed to be the true religion of his country. Thus he drew a line between his family upbringing in the Church of England and for the rest of his life remained loyal to the Roman Catholic Church. It was hard not to think that using his name liberally to advertise local history and also to enhance the recently adopted business plan of the Burgh House to attract visitors and wedding planners, would have only reinforced Waugh’s dislike of modernism. 



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Roundup: Ruins, Snobs and Remittance Men

An art exhibit in Sheffield is named for a Waugh story. This is Love Among the Ruins at the S1 Artspace gallery. The gallery is temporarily located in the garage of the Park Hill housing estate while another part of the estate is being converted into a cultural center. Park Hill dates from 1961 when it was built in brutalist concrete style (now Grade II listed) along with a neighboring estate called Hyde Park which is already  largely demolished. They were part of a social housing scheme which as since been abandoned. The exhibit displays photographs by two photographers retelling the story of life in the two estates when they were still used for housing. A explained in a local paper The Star, the exhibition:

… runs from July 20 to September 15, taking its full title from a satirical short story by Evelyn Waugh, which imagined a dystopian Britain of the future governed by an overbearing welfare state. Written in 1953, Waugh’s story anticipated some of the concerns about the possible social consequences of the government’s post-war approach to rebuilding the country.

Waugh’s story is also published in his Complete Stories volume.

The German-language newspaper Volksstimme, published in Basel, Switzerland, has an article entitled “Ein engischer snob in Africa”. This is by Simone Pfaff and relates to Waugh’s travel book Remote People, translated into German as Expeditionen eines englischer Gentleman. The text of the article is behind a paywall, but a summary is provided: “The book is a timeless account of being on the move as in a nightmare – and as such is a jewel of travel writing.” Translation by Google. 

In a Durban, South Africa paper, The Mercury, there is an article about English “remittance men”. These were usually second sons who disgraced themselves in England and were sent out to Africa where they received a monthly remittance from their families on the understanding that they would stay there. Among the most famous are Denys Finch Hatton, immortalized in Isak Dinesen’s novel and the Hollywood film Out of Africa, William Henry Drummond and Charles Hamilton. Also receiving a mention is a second son in Evelyn Waugh’s novel Brideshead Revisited who “develops an incurable drinking problem and ends up in Morocco as a remittance man.” This is Sebastian Flyte.

In a post on his website, blogger “Professor Mondo” reports from a visit to a comic convention in Charlotte, NC:

So as we headed to the con Friday afternoon, I saw a sign for a local business, but since we were at speed and I was staying alert to the traffic, all I caught were the words “Pet Crematory” in an elegant serif typeface. And that was less than cheering, I guess, but a sad necessity of life, particularly in urban areas where you might not have a yard suitable for burying a dead pet (or a live one, for that matter, not that I recommend that.)

But on the way back to the hotel, I saw the sign again, and this time I caught the business’s name: “Paws, Whiskers, and Wags.” And maybe it’s just me, but I felt like I had just discovered a near-perfect intersection of sweet and creepy, a sort of Uncanny Valley of euphemism where the sentimentality turns rancid somehow.

I mean, I suppose it’s better than “Fry-do’s” or “Fleas-y Bake Ovens” for an enterprise of its type, and as I said, I know the business meets a real need. Still, I found myself wondering if Dennis Barlow was in the neighborhood, or whether someone was taking a dip at Norma Desmond’s mansion.

Finally, on the Hertford College website, one of its alumni reports how Evelyn Waugh helped him get into Oxford. This is Eric Martin (Medicine, 1961) who went on to practice radiology in the USA. He explains that when his application to Merton College was turned down, he was invited to apply to Hertford, with this happy result:

I got a charming letter from the late Miles Vaughan Williams offering me a place at Hertford. One of my essays had been on Brideshead Revisited. After a couple of paragraphs I discovered I couldn’t remember Charles Ryder’s name, but it was too late to pick another topic so I soldiered on, hoping against hope that he would emerge from my sleep deprived fog. Perhaps I got points for ingenuity, but Miles opened his letter by saying “did I know that Evelyn Waugh was a Hertford man?”


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Desert Island Confusion

The Independent newspaper in London has a story in a recent issue about the BBC’s long-running program Desert Island Discs. This article by Alex Johnson focuses on book lists and this week opens with a discussion of the choices made by “castaways” on the BBC’s program. Unlike music recordings (of which 10 are allowed), only one book may be chosen (aside from the Bible and Complete Works of Shakespeare which are given to each). The story then lists the most popular ten book choices over the program’s history, all of which would be considered classics, such as War and Peace and Pride and Prejudice.

The story continues to consider book choices of notable guests on Desert Island Discs. But then it shifts to another book listing scheme entirely:

Aaron Hicklin, owner of the One Grand bookshop in Narrowsburg, New York, has taken the concept a stage further. He asks well-known writers, artists and creative minds to choose 10 books they would take to a desert island and then stocks his shelves accordingly…

As an example, Johnson offers novelist Jay McInerney’s 10 “desert island” bests. This includes Waugh’s novel A Handful of Dust as well as Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. The combination in the same article of these different lists that each carry the “Desert Island” label is at least a bit misleading. McInerney was never a guest on the BBC’s Desert Island Discs, so far as I can tell, and was therefore never asked to list his single book choice. Moreover, in a previous post we listed several of Waugh’s books that had been selected on the Desert Island Disc program, but Handful of Dust was not among them. See previous post. Read carefully, the Independent’s story is accurate, but the combination of these different lists with the same label at least creates some risk of confusion.


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Janetta Parladé (1921-2018)

The Daily Telegraph has announced the death of Janet Parladé. As a young woman, she was a member of the Horizon magazine social set centering on the editor Cyril Connolly. Shortly after the outbreak of the Spanish Cvil War:

Janetta met Cyril Connolly, who offered her a lift in his car to the south of France, where her mother had taken a house. During the drive Connolly was arrested by a suspicious policeman for abducting a minor, and a call had to be made to the British consul in Bordeaux before he was allowed to continue his journey. Wearing corduroy trousers and a French soldier’s cape, and carrying her belongings in a red-spotted handkerchief, the gamine Janetta must have looked even younger than her 17 years.

A few years later, in The Unquiet Grave, Connolly fantasised that he had been in love with Janetta’s “sad, grave, gem-like beauty … which I grasped and was not brave enough to hold”. He told his wife that she suited his “second adolescence”. George Weidenfeld described Janetta in his memoirs as “a wayward beauty who had been the Egeria to many remarkable men, some of whom she wed”.

[… ]she worked at Horizon, the literary magazine founded by Connolly and Stephen Spender. There she acquired the nickname of Miss Bluefeet because of her habit of walking barefooted around the office. Sonia Brownell was editorial secretary at Horizon; when she and Orwell were married in University College Hospital in 1949, three months before he died, Janetta and David Astor were the witnesses. […] (Evelyn Waugh described Janetta as “a dead-end kid [with] a baby by a communist doctor”.)

The “communist doctor” is probably her Kenneth Sinclair-Loutit, who, according to the Telegraph, “led the first British medical unit to Spain in 1936.” They never married but she took his name and they lived together as a family. Janetta is the barefoot young woman whom Waugh describes in his letters as answering the door at Connolly’s flat when Waugh made a visit. See previous post. She was married four times. Among her other husbands were literary figures of the 1940s Humphrey Slater (editor-founder of the short-lived literary magazine Polemic and sometime lover of Waugh’s friend Inez Holden), the also much-married Derek Jackson, and writer Robert Kee.

UPDATE (23 June 2018): According to the obituary in The Times, Janetta did not marry Kenneth Sinclair-Loutit as her second husband but took his name and had his child under that name:

…she left Slater for Kenneth Sinclair-Loutit, a young left-wing doctor who had led the first British medical unit to Spain in 1936. They met at a party for Spanish Civil War veterans and he instantly left his wife for her. They did not marry but she changed her name to Sinclair-Loutit and he became the father of her first daughter, Nicolette. Nicky Loutit, as she is now known, is a painter and writer. The Sinclair-Loutits shared a house in Regents Park with Connolly, who occupied the middle floor, but by 1945 they were separated, as Evelyn Waugh reported in a letter to Lady Diana Cooper, referring to Mrs Loutit as “Mrs Bluefeet” (after she had opened the door to him in bare feet).

The text of the original post has been corrected to reflect this.

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An Uncertain Guest: Video Memoir of Evelyn Waugh

A posting on YouTube’s series “Web of Stories” contains a short video memoir of Evelyn Waugh recorded by the late John Julius Norwich. He was the only child of Waugh’s close friend Diana Cooper and her husband Duff. The memoir is not dated, but Norwich appears fairly advanced in years. His oral recollections are similar to those recorded in his writings. A written transcript of the memoir accompanies the recording. It mostly relates to Waugh’s strained relationship with Duff Cooper:

My father was always in two minds about him; he didn’t mind him fancying my mother a bit, but Evelyn was argumentative and loved rowing. My father actually had loved a good political row too, but they used to almost come to blows, those two together.

This is a clip from a longer version and is preceded by a YouTube ad (unless you have a subscription).

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Another Private Chapel Story

The Times reports that singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran plans to build a private chapel near his home in Suffolk. This seems to be becoming a trend. See earlier posts. The article by Libby Purves opens with a reference to a Waugh novel as well as one by Nancy Mitford:

You’re a grandee with wealth, fame and acclaim. You’ve got the great house and grounds, guest wing, ballroom, staff. What next? A private chapel! The rich have souls, status doesn’t exclude spirituality, and the parish church is a bit plebby and means putting on outdoor shoes. Thus, from early Tudor times, an exquisite little chapel was the finishing touch to a grand home. At Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead, “a monument of art nouveau” had angels in smocks, saints in armour and texts in Celtic script above a grass-green carpet strewn with daisies. That was based on Madresfield Court, where the 7th earl (later a gay exile) had it decorated as a wedding present from his wife. Or think of the more archaic Hampton chapel in Nancy Mitford’s Love in a Cold Climate, where Leopoldina, “Polly”, outrages her mother by marrying her lecherous snob of an uncle.

Sheeran’s chapel sounds quite appropriate (“a flint one, Saxon-style, with a round tower. It will hold a 24-person entourage — sorry, congregation.”) but has run into some problems. In addition to opposition from the locals to a move by a landowner toward “aggrandization” of his property, the building would be sited in area that is home to the great crested newt. The story concludes with this thought about the “new celeb-liberal establishment”:

…Where old aristocracy shunned the vulgarity of the packed local church for fear of smells and smallpox, the new one shudders to contemplate eternity in one of our (often empty, achingly beautiful) historic churches within a mile. They might be glimpsed without hair ’n’ make-up! Someone might smile and say hello! Ugh! The irony is that east Suffolk is a notably un-gawpy region, one of the less likely places to suffer a selfie-hound. It’s already overstocked with famous actors dressed to not impress ….So good luck with the newts, young Sheeran, and sing on. But try laughing at yourself sometimes too.

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Cecil Beaton Documentary Available Online

The full length documentary film of Cecil Beaton’s career that was released last December is now available online. See previous post. This is entitled Love, Cecil. The film was briefly reviewed at the time of its release in the Daily Express (which liked it) as well as in The Times and the Guardian (not so much).  A new more in-depth review has now been posted on the website Movie Nation. This explains a Vogue magazine connection with the project and also offers a bit more analysis of the contents than the  earlier reviews:

…filmmaker Lisa Immordino Vreeland had archival TV interviews with Beaton, even access to his first on-screen essay on “American beauty” (from 1929, and he insisted there was no such thing as “American” beauty). She had Beaton’s many published diaries, and Rupert Everett (as Beaton) reading from them. Mostly though, she had self-portraits to choose from — thousands of the damned things — preening, made-up, perfectly coiffed, perfectly lit and beautifully composed shots of the man’s idealized image of himself…The film is as adoring as those self-portraits.

Filmmaker Vreeland, granddaughter-in-law- of Vogue empress and Beaton intimate Diana Vreeland, rounded up legions of those who met, knew or were influenced by Beaton’s chic tastes, eye for color and social climbing — designers like Blahnik and Mizrahi, current British “Vogue” editor Hamish Bowles among them.

Bowles previously reviewed the film favorably for Vogue magazine. The current review concludes:

…Vreeland’s film, wallowing in the Beaton vision of beauty via his images, his art and his screen work, does a marvelous service in reclaiming this dandy’s dandy/designer’s designer and iconic photographer from obscurity. The culture will never see the likes of Cecil Beaton again, a Renaissance Man with an unfailing eye for composition and color, though his record for narcissistic self-portraiture is challenged every day by the stars of Instagram.

The film is available on DVD from Amazon.com and may also be streamed online in the UK on Amazon.co.uk. It has been published in book form as well.


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Waugh and International Law

Dr Fernando Gomez Herrero from the University of Birmingham delivered a paper at a London conference on Languages Memory based on Evelyn Waugh’s description of his attendance at an academic conference in Scott King’s Modern Europe. The paper was entitled ‘About Law and Literature; Or Evelyn Waugh attends the Pax Romana Commemorations in honour of Francisco de Vitoria in Spain in 1946′. Dr Gomez Herrero explains his paper in a posting on the University of Brmingham’s website:

This presentation provided syntheses of Waugh’s satirical novella Scott-King’s Modern Europe (1947), against his diary entries and elements of his biographical writing, engaging with Vitoria, but also the city of Salamanca, the International Congress of Pax Romana, the Franco Regime in early moments of the Cold War. “Vitoria” is short name for international-law initiatives, war-peace mediations, ideal of imperial self-restraint, worrisome (post-) colonial legacies, Euro-American relations, Catholicism and Protestantism, etc. Waugh’s middlebrow writing in the humorous vein is a peculiar English version of Vitoria. I look into how he did it and the possibly why. He did not know the “Neutralian lingo” and did not think much about a lot of things. Orwell already said something meaningful about this supreme art and lightness of being. I look into Waugh’s satirical humour critically. I gave vignettes…. My presentation looked into the mechanics of satire, how satire works, how laughter is engaged, whether it wins over the reader, or does not. Scott King’s Modern Europe is slapstick comedy, a crazy romp against any type of pomp and ceremony: think Marx Brothers, add 19th-Century Spanish costumbrista writer, Mariano Jose de Larra, even touches of Berlanga’s famous film, and audacious comedy, Bienvenido Mister Marshall  (1953)…

Waugh’s novella is also collected in his Complete Short Stories. The Orwell reference probably relates to his review of Waugh’s novella.

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Waugh and Proust: A Handful de Chez Quoi ?

A brief letter in this week’s TLS raises several interesting points about Waugh’s understanding of Marcel Proust’s A la Recherche du Temps Perdu. This is from Dorothy McMillan at the University of Glasgow:

Sir, – As your correspondents have shown (most recently, June 8), the title of Proust’s first volume is tricky to translate. Evelyn Waugh seems not to have understood it at all. Two of the chapters in the first edition of his A Handful of Dust in 1934 are headed, “À côté de chez Beaver” and “À côté de chez Todd”. Conor Cruise O’Brien thought that Waugh must have read some Proust because he had paid him “the tribute of misquotation”, although Waugh told John Betjeman in 1946 that he was then reading Proust for the first time. On both counts Scott Moncrieff’s decision in 1925 to ignore Waugh’s desire to become his secretary seems vindicated. Later editions of the novel correct to “Du côté de chez Beaver” and “Du côté de chez Todd”. Does anyone know who had a word in Waugh’s ear? DOROTHY MCMILLAN School of Critical Studies, University of Glasgow.

In a recent issue of Tatler’s Hong Kong edition, Handful comes up in an interview of Lady Kinvara Balfour, described as a “British aristocrat—and producer, writer, creative director and public speaker.” This entry comes after an illustration of the original orange and black cover of the Penguin edition of the novel:

“This book by Evelyn Waugh is my favourite. I love Brideshead Revisited also, but A Handful of Dust is so unbelievably sad and so incredibly reflective of an extraordinary era in Britain. The movie adaptation was filmed at Carlton Towers, the home of my late grandfather (Miles Fitzalan-Howard, the Duke of Norfolk) in Yorkshire. Grandpa was invited by the director to be an extra; he stood in as a gardener who tips his cap when the character played by Anjelica Huston lands her plane on the driveway of the house.”

Finally, another paper opens a story about recent developments in the war in Yemen with this allusion to Scoop, the novel that followed Handful:

In a few days, we could all become relative experts on that Red Sea port city, which may have escaped our attention until now. It’s complicated, but the one-sentence version (with apologies to the late Evelyn Waugh, author of the epic journalistic novel “Scoop”) runs as follows: Pro-government Yemeni forces, supported by a Saudi-United Arab Emirates (UAE) coalition, are attacking Iranian-backed Houthi rebels who control Hudaydah, currently the only way that food and other humanitarian aid can get to 20 million Yemenis who live in the rebel-controlled territory, including the capital, Sana.

(The literary reference is twice justified. The setting of “Scoop” is 1930s Ethiopia, just across the Red Sea from Hudaydah, and the novel’s hero, a mis-assigned gardening correspondent, is sent to cover a confusing civil war with foreign involvement — in reality, the Italian invasion of then-Abyssinia.)

This appears in The Hill, a US based political website, and is written by Simon Henderson.

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