Category Archive 'Evelyn Waugh'

01 Aug 2018

The Evelyn Waugh Cult

Oxford University Press is commencing issue of a 42-volume Complete Works of Evelyn Waugh. (My god, that many!) In connection with that event, Matthew Walther serves up a portrait of members of the contemporary cult of Waugh.

When [Evelyn] Waugh died on Easter Sunday in 1966, he was praised by contemporaries such as Graham Greene, who called him “the greatest author of my generation.” In death he has been rewarded with one of the most devoted, if not among the most sizable, followings in modern literature. Not one of his novels has ever gone out of print, and even his biographies and travel writings continue to sell tolerably well. Some readers find that Waugh’s novels speak to them in an intensely personal manner that is rare among authors working outside of science fiction or fantasy. Decline and Fall, Kingsley Amis said in a retrospective essay, was the “first novel written for me.”

I for one can attest to this feeling. Today it is widespread among young men of a certain type, especially in the United States. If you have ever moved in conservative intellectual circles or attended a liberal arts college with a “Great Books” program or gone to the coffee hour at a traditional Latin Mass, you will have seen him (it is almost never a her). The Waughian wears tweed jackets, often if not always ill fitting. He smokes a pipe or one of the expensive additive-free brands of cigarette. He drinks gin and, partly out of spite for craft-beer nerds, Miller Lite. He is a Catholic but has vaguely romantic feelings about English church architecture and says “Holy Ghost” instead of “Holy Spirit.” He insists that the Church has been in a crisis since the Second Vatican Council and the introduction of the new liturgy. He rides a bicycle, or at least owns one, and rails against the iniquities of the automobile. He loathes democracy and longs for the restoration of the Stuarts to the English throne. Insofar as he has any opinions about contemporary American politics he loathes the GOP and has a a tendency to romanticize marginal quixotic figures in the Democratic Party — Jimmy Traficant, Bart Stupak, Bernie Sanders. At one time or another he has almost certainly maintained a blog in order to hold forth about most of these things. The Waughian has more than a bit in common with the “young fogey” famously lampooned by Alan Watkins and other English journalists decades ago, except that instead of an Oxford-educated toff he is probably an ordinary middle-class American in his 20s or 30s who discovered most of his causes on the internet.


16 Jun 2017

“More Youthful, More Urban, and More Inclusive of Women”

, , ,

Bad! Male shooting trap.

GunsAmerica makes it clear that entirely the wrong kind of people are on the International Olympic Committee.

The International Olympic Committee has dropped three men’s shooting events from the Tokyo 2020 lineup in an effort to make the games “more youthful, more urban” and more inclusive of women.

The Committee announced last Friday that men’s double trap, 50m rifle prone, and 50m pistol will be replaced by events in air rifle, trap, and air shooting, which will be open to competitors of any gender.

IOC President Thomas Bach said in a statement, “I am delighted that the Olympic Games in Tokyo will be more youthful, more urban and will include more women.”


Evelyn Waugh’s Scott-King’s Modern Europe follows the declining career of a balding & corpulent classics teacher at Granchester, a fictional English public school. Granchester is “entirely respectable” but in need of a bit of modernizing, at least in the opinion of its pragmatic headmaster, who is attuned to consumer demands. The story ends with a poignant conversation between Scott-King and the headmaster:

“You know,” [the headmaster] said, “we are starting this year with fifteen fewer classical specialists than we had last term?”

“I thought that would be about the number.”

“As you know I’m an old Greats man myself. I deplore it as much as you do. But what are we to do? Parents are not interested in producing the ‘complete man’ any more. They want to qualify their boys for jobs in the modern world. You can hardly blame them, can you?”

“Oh yes,” said Scott-King. “I can and do.”

“I always say you are a much more important man here than I am. One couldn’t conceive of Granchester without Scott-King. But has it ever occurred to you that a time may come when there will be no more classical boys at all?”

“Oh yes. Often.”

“What I was going to suggest was—I wonder if you will consider taking some other subject as well as the classics? History, for example, preferably economic history?”

“No, headmaster.”

“But, you know, there may be something of a crisis ahead.”

“Yes, headmaster.”

“Then what do you intend to do?”

“If you approve, headmaster, I will stay as I am here as long as any boy wants to read the classics. [Emphasis added] I think it would be very wicked indeed to do anything to fit a boy for the modern world.”

“It’s a short-sighted view, Scott-King.”

“There, headmaster, with all respect, I differ from you profoundly. I think it the most long-sighted view it is possible to take.”

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