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"I though the Boom chapel at Madresfield the saddest thing I ever saw."

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I though the Boom chapel at Madresfield the saddest thing I ever saw.


Evelyn Waugh

[via Mad World by Paula Byrne]

@: i am not i, brideshead, religion, waugh


"The whole interior had been gutted, elaborately refurnished and redecorated in the ..."

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The whole interior had been gutted, elaborately refurnished and redecorated in the arts-and-crafts style of the last decade of the nineteenth century. Angels in printed cotton smocks, rambler-roses, flower-spangled meadows, frisking lambs, texts in Celtic sript, saints in armour, covered the walls in an intricate pattern of clear, bright colours. There was a triptych of pale oak, carved so as to give it the peculiar property of seeming to have been moulded in plasticine. The sanctuary lamp and all the metal furniture were of bronze, and-beaten to the patina of a pockmarked skin; the altar steps had a carpet of grass-green, strewn with white and gold daisies.

Golly, I said.

It was Papas wedding present to Mamma. Now, if youve seen enough, well go.


Evelyn [Waugh] changes the gold triptych to pale oak and the sanctuary lamp and metal furniture to bronze, but otherwise there is no mistaking the Madresfield chapel.

Mad World by Paula Byrne

@: brideshead, byrne, i am not i, religion


"Gosspis and sneers circulated in high society [about lord Beauchamp]: Well, you must expect..."

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Gosspis and sneers circulated in high society [about lord Beauchamp]: Well, you must expect anything from a man that has his private chapel decorated like a barbers pole and an ice-cream barrow.

- Mad World by Paula Byrne

@: byrne, fairies, i am not i, lord marchmain, motifs, religion, they are not they


"Next Thursday I am to visite a Father Underhill about being a parson. Last night I was very drung...."

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Next Thursday I am to visite a Father Underhill about being a parson. Last night I was very drung. How odd those sentences go together.


Evelyn Waugh in his diary, Fabriary 20, 1927.

[via Paula Byrnes Mad World]

@: religion, waugh


"On becoming the Earl Beauchamp in 1866, Frederick threw himself into the life of the house and the..."

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On becoming the Earl Beauchamp in 1866, Frederick threw himself into the life of the house and the county of Worcestershire (his Catholic sympathies meant that he was viewed with suspicion in royal and political circles, so he confined himself to the shires). He rebuilt large parts of Madresfield in the Gothic style. He beautified the gardens. And he began the tradition of an agricultural show for his tenants (in Brideahead Revisited Charles and Sebastian watch just such a show whilst sunbathing on the roof of the house).

- Mad World by Paula Byrne

@: brideshead, bridey, motifs, religion, they are not they


The Spiritually Mediocre and the Wisdom of the Church

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September 10, 2008 by frmarkdwhite

Evelyn Waugh
Studying the old Mass reminded me of something that the novelist Evelyn Waugh wrote around 1970. When the Mass was changed, he wrote some letters to the Cardinal Archbishop of London lamenting the novelities.

Waugh objected to the intense insistence on building community spirit in the 1970

@: waugh, religion


Beware of the Anglo-Catholics - theyre all sodomites with unpleasant accents. The...

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Beware of the Anglo-Catholics - theyre all sodomites with unpleasant accents.

The Lygons were Anglo-Catholics starting from the 6th earl Beauchamp, Jane Mulvagh informs us in Madresfield. And there was a homosexual in each generation starting from that time too.

@: Religion, fairies, they are not they


Hubert Duggan

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Hubert John Duggan (24 July 1904 25 October 1943) was a British Army officer and politician, who was Conservative Party Member of Parliament for Acton from 1931 until his death. He was an opponent of appeasement and broke the whip on several important occasions, voting to bring down Neville Chamberlain in 1940.

A witty and handsome man who very much enjoyed the company of women, Duggan was married only briefly before becoming the plaintiff in a scandalous divorce case. He suffered from ill health; brought up in the Catholic faith, he lapsed in adolescence but returned when on his deathbed. Episodes in his life inspired writers Evelyn Waugh and Anthony Powell to fictionalise him.


Duggan was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina where his father Alfred was honorary Attach

@: I am not I, Religion, Waugh


Evelyn Waugh: the best and the worst

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by Charles J. Rolo

O C T O B E R 1 9 5 4


WHEN blurb writers are caroling the praises of some newly emerged maestro of sophisticated farce, they can seldom resist the temptation of comparing him to the early Evelyn Waugh. Despite the fact that Brideshead Revisited which introduces the later or serious Evelyn Waugh has sold many more copies in the United States than all of Waughs other books put together, his name, at least among the literary is still most apt to evoke a singular brand of comic genius. He is, par excellence, an example of the artist who has created a world peculiarly his own. The adjective Waughsian is too much of a tongue twister to have passed into our vocabulary, but a substitute phrase has Its pure Evelyn Waugh.

Pure Evelyn Waugh. The expression evokes a riotously anarchic cosmos, in which only the outrageous can happen, and when it does happen is outrageously diverting; in which people reason and behave with awesome inconsequence and lunatic logic. A primitive ruler, eager to be modern, is induced by a wily contractor to purchase boots for his barefoot army: the savages happily heat up their cookpots and devour the boots. An Oxford porter says to an undergraduate who has just been expelled: I expect youll be becoming a school master, sir. Thats what most of the gentlemen does, sir, that gets sent down for indecent behaviour. On the planet where Waughs comic novels have their being, Oxford and Mayfair are as barbarous in their way as darkest Azania.

There are few contemporary writers of the first rank whose imagination runs to such appalling and macabre inventions as Waughs does; and there is none who carries audacity to such lengths in using the atrocious as the material of farce. Consider a few of the episodes from which (taken in their proper context) Waugh has succeeded in distilling the choicest entertainment. Agatha Runcible one of the Bright Young People in Vile Bodies tipsily joins a motor race, has a crackup, and, after a cocktail party in her sick room, dies. The hero of Black Mischief, after feasting with savages on a delicious pot-au-feu, learns that he has just eaten his recent mistress, Prudence, daughter of the British Minister. The Loved One focuses with a bland and relentless fascination on every detail in the preparation of cadavers for burial by a de luxe establishment in Southern California.

Crazy accidents; cannibalism; cadavers. They are merely outr symbols of the theme, often explicitly stated, which underlies all of Waughs work that our twentieth-century civilization is a decaying corpse. In Waughs view, the Modern Age has crazily destroyed and cannibalized what he finds supremely valuable veneration for tradition and hierarchy; the aristocratic way of life; the onetime supremacy of the Catholic Church throughout Western society. At the conclusion of Scott-Kings Modern Europe, the dim schoolmaster warned that soon there wont be any place for a teacher of the classics refuses to take on a more utilitarian subject: I think it would be very wicked indeed to do anything to fit a boy for the modern world.

After rereading, as I have just done, the greater part of Waughs writings, it becomes unmistakably clear that both his comic and his straight novels however different in manner and in tone are expressions of precisely the same viewpoint. That viewpoint dates back to his very first book, written when he was twenty-three: a capable and nostalgic study of those nineteenth-century enemies of technology, the Pre-Raphaelites. And with the passing of the years, Waughs repudiation of his time has been carried to extreme lengths even in the pattern of his personal life.

Evelyn Arthur St. John Waugh was born in a suburb of London in 1903, the son of a busy man-of-letters. Waughs origins were gentlemanly but in no way aristocratic, a point he seems to have been inordinately touchy about even as a boy. He was sent to Lancing, one of Englands less fashionable public schools; and from there he won a scholarship to one of Oxfords decidedly less fashionable colleges. At Oxford, however, his wit, good looks, and resolute preference for the elite carried him into the company to which he aspired. There is a striking portrait of him at this time in Harold Actons Memoirs of an Aesthete: I still see him as a prancing faun, thinly disguised by conventional apparel. His wide apart eyes, always ready to be startled under raised eyebrows, the curved sensual lips, the hyacinthine locks of hair, I had seen in marble and bronze at Naples Other Oxford contemporaries have spoken of him in a harsher vein: A bitter little man A social climber.

After two years, Waugh voluntarily left Oxford without a degree, and, like Paul Pennyfeather of Decline and Fall, took a job in a school for backward boys. Later, he worked for sixteen days on Lord Beaverbrooks Daily Express. His ambition was to be a painter, but a stint at art school left him dissatisfied with his talent. At this time, he has said, he was a pagan and wanted to be a man of the world a well-rounded English gentleman in the eighteenth-century tradition. He joined in the whirl of Michael Arlens Mayfair. He gadded among savages and people of fashion and politicians and crazy generals because I enjoyed them. But he was a worldling who could relish all this and still find it wanting. In 1930, after instruction from the celebrated Father DArcy, Waugh entered the Catholic Church.

A few months earlier, his marriage to the Honorable Evelyn Gardner had ended in divorce. In 1937, he married again. His second wife was a Catholic: Laura, daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel The Honorable Aubrey Nigel Henry Molyneux Herbert, second son of the Earl of Carnarvon.

For nine years, Waugh had traveled often and widely, by preference to wild places. The best parts of the four travel books written during this period were later reprinted in When the Going Was Good, and they are still lively reading. One is periodically reminded, however, that Waughs touch is surer and more sparkling when he is using these same materials in his comic novels.

At the outbreak of the war, Waugh joined the Royal Marines, and later, as a Commando, took part in a succession of desperate actions in which he became famous for his phenomenal courage. Years earlier, when Waugh had taken up foxhunting, his recklessness had awed even veterans.

Waugh is now settled at Piers Court in a secluded part of Gloucestershire, from which he occasionally makes sorties to his London clubs. I live in a shabby stone house, he wrote in Life, in which nothing is under a hundred years old except the plumbing, and that does not work. I collect old books in an inexpensive, desultory way. [His major avocation is the study of theology.] I have a fast emptying cellar of wine and gardens fast reverting to jungle. I have numerous children [three girls and two boys] whom I see once a day for ten, I hope, awe-inspiring minutes.

A few years back Randolph Churchill said of Waugh: He grows more old-fashioned every day. He seeks to live in an oasis. Waugh himself has affirmed with pride that he is two hundred years behind the times, and that there is no political party in existence which he finds sufficiently (in the strictly literal sense of the word) reactionary. He has refused to learn to drive a car. He writes with a pen which has to be continually dipped in the inkwell. And he prefers to communicate even with his neighbors by written message rather than resort to the telephone. A literary friend of Waughs once delivered a summation which neatly reflects the tenor of the anecdotes about him. As nearly as I recall, it went: Oh, I adore Evelyn. Hes so frightfully witty and so fearfully rude. Terribly conceited, of course and, poor sweet, rather ridiculous. But such a good writer!


COMPLETE rejection of the modern world is the source from which springs the best and the worst in Evelyn Waughs writings. The artist who repudiates the realities of his time must of necessity either work in the ironic key, as Waugh did in his earlier novels which transmute repudiation into blandly destructive laughter; or, if dissatisfied with a negative criticism, he must offer alternatives to the status quo which can be taken seriously. But when Waugh abandons the detached stance, when he seriously articulates his opinions and attitudes, the results are often distressing, and sometimes disastrous.

His fierce nostalgia for medievalism represents (as he himself recognizes) a yearning for an irretrievably lost cause; and as social criticism, it is therefore merely frivolous or petulant. Moreover in the Catholic content of his novels to date, there has been little accent on religious experience such and a really shocking absence of that human compassion which is so much a part of the Catholic spirit. (What ounce of compassion Waugh can muster is reserved for the few who meet with his approval.) In fact, the Catholicism of Waughs fiction it is not, of course, his faith which is under discussion, but his expression of it is inextricably bound up with worship of the ancient. British nobility, so laden with contempt for lesser breeds without the law, that the Church is made to appear a particularly exclusive club rather than a broad spiritual force.

At his best that is, when he remains detached Waugh is the finest comic artist to emerge since the late 1920s. His style is swift, exact, almost unfailingly felicitous. His inventions are entrancing; his timing inspired; his matter-of-fact approach to the incongruous produces a perverse humor that is immensely effective. Even that ancient comic device the use of suggestive names is boldly put to work by Waugh with the happiest results. Mr. Outrage, the leader of His Majestys Opposition; Mrs. Melrose Ape, the phony evangelist; Lord Copper, the press tycoon; Lady Circumference, Captain Grimes, Viola Chasm, Ambrose Silk their names bespeak their nature.

Behind the extravagant facade of Waughs burlesques, manners and social types are observed with a dazzling accuracy. The Bright Young People are illuminated with a glow which spotlights the fantastic but they are profoundly dans le vrai. The Ministry of Information passages in Put Out More Flags are, of course, a parody; but I can vouch from firsthand experience that the parody is solidly founded in truth. In countless scenes throughout Waughs farces, a lapidary phrase or incident brings home with terrible directness the tragic quality in the lives of his frivolous, gaily cockeyed, or unscrupulous characters. Waughs cosmos is, in the literal sense, funny as hell.

Like Eliot, Waugh looked out on the world around him and saw it as a wasteland. His temperament and special gifts led him to transfigure the wasteland into a circus, within whose tent we are treated to a riotous harlequinade. But every so often the flap of the tent is blown open; a vista of the wilderness intrudes; and the antics of the clowns suddenly appear, as poor Agatha Runcible would say, too spirit-crushing.

This core of tragic awareness gives to Waughs comic vision the dimension of serious art. The paradox, in fact, is that when Waugh is being comic, he makes luminous the failures of his age, confronts us vividly with the desolating realities; and when he is being serious, he is liable to become trashy. For without the restraints of the ironic stance, his critical viewpoint reveals itself as bigoted and rancorous; his snobbery emerges as obsessive and disgusting; and his archaism involves him in all kinds of silliness.


WAUGHS first novel, Decline and Fall (1928), depicts a world in which villainy has the innocence of mans primeval state before The Fall. The story opens on the night of the annual orgy of Oxfords most aristocratic dining club: A shriller note could now be heard from Sir Alastairs rooms; any who have heard that sound will shrink from the recollection of it; it is the sound of the English country families baying for broken glass.

Paul Pennyfeather, a colorless young man reading for Holy Orders, is debagged by the rowdies and then expelled by the authorities for indecent exposure. Presently he is taken up by an immensely wealth young widow, whose fortune comes from a far-flung chain of bordellos; and when the police get on her track. Paul goes to prison for white slavery, and the lady marries a Cabinet Minister. The fun is incessant and the comic portraiture is pure delight, especially the hugely disreputable schoolmaster, Captain Grimes, and the inventive butler-crook Philbrick in his plushier moments Sir Solomon Philbrick, tycoon. Decline and Fall is an unqualified success.

Vile Bodies (1930) is almost as good. The combination of calamitous happenings and gay insouciance is marvelously sustained as the story follows the Bright Young People in their giddy dance through the condemned playground. But the farce, now, has grimmer overtones; and the climax finds Adam on historys greatest battlefield, clutching a bomb for the dissemination of leprosy.

Waughs next novel had its origin in the crazy enchantment of a visit to Addis Ababa for the coronation of Haile Selassie. The Abyssinia of the early thirties with its ancient Christianity and its enduring barbarism; its strivings to be modern, frustrated by picturesque ignorance and limitless inefficiency; its motley foreign colony, authentic savages, and wily promoters, big and small provided Waugh with materials ideally suited to his talents, and he worked them into what some critics consider the most amusing of his novels, Black Mischief (1932).

A Handful of Dust (1934), the most somber of the comic novels, is memorable for its horrifying ending: the hero finds himself trapped in the recesses of the Amazonian jungle, condemned to spend the rest of his life reading Dickens to a cunning madman. In the next two books, Waughs violent prejudices show their hand. His biography of the Catholic martyr, Edmund Campion in many respects a distinguished performance is marred by a partisanship which flagrantly distorts Elizabethan history. Waugh in Abyssinia (1936) the product of an assignment as a war correspondent is simply a piece of Fascist propaganda. Strangely enough, the Ethiopian setting is again fictionally handled in Scoop (1937) with the same detached zest as in Black Mischief. There is perhaps no more uproarious burlesque of the workings of the press.

Put Out More Flags (1942), a novel about phony war period, reintroduces Waughs finest pirate-hero, Basil Seal, more ingeniously iniquitous than ever. His use of three loathsome evacuee children as a source of blackmail is just one of several episodes in the book which are Waugh at his best. The story ends with Basils volunteering for the Commandos there was a new spirit abroad. The war apparently aroused in Waugh high hopes that victory would open the way to return to Britains former greatness. His deep and bitter disillusionment at its actual outcome probably explains, at least in part, the marked difference in temper between his pre-war and his post-war fiction.

Brideshead Revisited (1945) is a romantic evocation of vanished splendors, which brings into dismal relief the aridity of the present. In the first part, in which the narrator reverts to his youth at Oxford, Waughs artistic sense seldom falters. Ryders discovery of a magic world of freedom and intoxicating pleasures through his friendship with Sebastian, the younger son of a noble and wealthy Catholic family, and the accompanying contrast between the dryness of Ryders home life and the charm of the Marchmains these passages are among the most memorable that Waugh has written. But, in the second part Ryders unhappy marriage and love affair with Sebastians sister; Sebastians descent into alcoholism; Lord Marchmains irregular and resplendent life in Venice, and his death in his ancestral home those failings of Waughs which were discussed earlier run riot. And, as they take command, the characterization grows unreal, the atmosphere becomes sententious, the style turns overripe.

Charles Ryder is shaken out of his ill-mannered anti-Catholicism when the dying Lord Marchmain, who has lived outside the Church, makes a sign indicating his consent to receiving the final sacrament. But Ryder has been portrayed as so insensitive to religion and so sensitive to the prestige of great families that one is left, as Edmund Wilson has observed, with an uneasy feeling that it was not the sign that made Ryder kneel beside the deathbed, but the vision of this Catholic familys greatness conjured up in Lord Marchmains earlier monologue: We were barons since Agincourt; the larger honors came with the Georges (and so on).

The Loved One (1948) is one of Waughs most savagely amusing books. As a lampoon on the mortuary practices of Southern California, it is a coruscating tour de force. When, however, the satire reaches out to other aspects of American folkways, it is sometimes either hackneyed or crudely exaggerated. The trouble is that Waugh can no longer maintain the same innocence of observation as in the pre-war farces. The clat of his performance in The Loved One is slightly marred by traces of spite, and smudges of acid snob-distaste for all things American. There is no such thing as an American, he wrote in an explanatory note about the book. They are all exiles, uprooted, transplanted and doomed to sterility.

Men at Arms (1952), the first volume of an unfinished trilogy about military life during World War II, describes Guy Crouchbacks period of training for a commission in the Halberdiers. Crouchback is a lonely, frustrated man, revolted by the modern age, and the regiment with its proud traditions, its esprit de corps, its rituals, its severe discipline and taxing duties restores to him a vitalizing sense of dignity and purpose. The novel is written throughout in a much lower key than Brideshead Revisited. Its major characterizations are impressive; and though neither dramatic nor particularly moving, it is a very polished and readable work. Its great weakness is that Waugh treats with respectful admiration materials tinged with the ludicrous, which call for the saving grace of irony.

Waughs latest book, Tactical Exercise (Little, Brown, $3.75), is a collection of short fiction which more or less spans his writing career and is very varied in range. It is probably better entertainment than any of the other books of its kind that have just come off the presses; but there is not much in it that is near to the top of Waughs form.

One item is unquestionably unique: an edifying melodrama, entitled The Curse of the Race Horse, which Waugh composed when he was seven; the spelling, which foreshadows Waughs genius for bold improvision, is utterly delectable. Excursion Into Reality gives the movies the treatment Waugh gave the press in Scoop. Love Among the Ruins is Waughs nightmarish vision of the brave new world; but his total incompetence as a sociologist makes this fantasy a nursery effort compared with those of Huxley and Orwell. The most interesting item in this volume, Work Suspended, consists of the two chapters of a novel which Waugh abandoned in 1941, and which has certain intriguing affinities with the book that took its place: Brideshead Revisited.

Now fifty-one, Evelyn Waugh has published twenty-two books. Considering the high quality of his artistry, it is a remarkable output. He has himself defined, with a characteristic touch of belligerence, the direction in which he plans to move: In my future books there will be two things to make them unpopular: a preoccupation with style and the attempt to represent man more fully, which, to me, means only one thing, man in his relation to God. It sounds as though, from, now on, the serious side of Waugh will fully take command.

However laudable Waughs objectives, I find it impossible to discount the evidence that he has chosen a course which runs counter to his special gifts as an artist. From the comic standpoint, Waughs less amiable traits are actually an asset. Arrogance, snobbery, and contentiousness when they work hand in hand with irony are a corrosive solvent to satire. The religious writer requires at least four qualities of which Waugh has so far displayed only one. Faith he has; but little compassion and no humility and in his entire work there is not a single truly convincing trace of love.

Copyright 1954 by Charles Rolo. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; October 1954; Evelyn Waugh: The Best and The Worst - 10.54; Volume cxciv, No. 4; page 80-84.

@: books, bubbles, religion, waugh


"Betjeman, far from being a man of the people, was a climber and a bit of a snob, who preferred the..."

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Betjeman, far from being a man of the people, was a climber and a bit of a snob, who preferred the company of the clever and the well-born. In this respect he resembled his friend and contemporary Evelyn Waugh, with whom he had a good deal else in common, apparently including Betjemans wife, whom Waugh claimed to have slept with in the process of converting her to Roman Catholicism.

@: bubbles, i am not i, religion, waugh


Hertford College chapel

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Fr. John C. McCloskey with Dr. Thomas Howard talk about "Brideshead Revisited" (1/31/2001 )

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Fr. John C. McCloskey with Dr. Thomas Howard talk about "Brideshead Revisited" (1/31/2001 ):

EWTN: Global Catholic Networks Libraries.

You can either listen on-line or download the mp3 file.

@: links, downloads, bubbles, religion


The Madresfield Hours

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Produced in England, ca. 132030
Madresfield Court, Earl Beauchamp, MS M

This little-known Book of Hours contains illumination executed at different time periods. The first part was written and decorated in the early fourteenth century, and the last part was added during the fifteenth. Its miniatures were painted on separate vellum bifolia and then inserted into the book. While they illustrate the canonical hours of the Hours of the Virgin, most of the images themselves represent themes taken from the legendary Miracles of the Virgin.

[Three large pictures below]

Open at folios 31v32r, for Lauds, with scenes from the story of the clerk with roses. On the left, the prayers uttered by a young monk are miraculously transformed into flowers. On the right, the monk crowns the Virgin with the flowers, as the Christ Child blesses him.

Detail of fol. 31v, depicting the clerk as his prayers are turned into flowers.

Detail of fol. 32r, depicting the Virgin Mary being crowned with the clerks flowers.

Facsimile: Janet Backhouse, The Madresfield Hours: A Fourteenth-Century Manuscript in the Library of Earl Beauchamp (Oxford: The Roxburghe Club, 1975)

@: motifs, i am not i, brideshead, religion


tamburina: Antonio Giorgetti, St. Sebastian, pre 1670, San...

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Antonio Giorgetti, St. Sebastian, pre 1670, San Sebastiano alle Catacombe, Rome

Paula Byrne maintains that it was seeing this tomb on his first tour of Italy that made EW think of Sebastian as the name.

@: st sebastian, sebastian, religion, motifs


"You have no idea how much nastier I would be if I was not a Catholic. Without supernatural aid I..."

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You have no idea how much nastier I would be if I was not a Catholic. Without supernatural aid I would hardly be a human being.


Evelyn Waugh to Nancy Mitford.

And this post is number 600.

@: religion, waugh


All human habitations were barred; the choice lay between the open down behind Spierpoint Ring and the single country road to the isolated Norman church of St. Botolph.

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St. Botolph, an Abbot, died c.680. A very popular Saint in Medieval England, but little is known about him. With his brother Adulf he became a monk abroad and in 654 established a monastery at Icanhoh, usually identified with Boston (Botulfs stone) in Lincolnshire. St. Cedfrid is said to have journeyed all the way from Wearmouth (Tyneside) to converse with this man - of remarkable life and learning.

St. Botulph, the saint whose name is perpetuated in that of the American city of Boston, Massachusetts, was certainly an historical personage, though the story of his life is very confused and unsatisfactory. What information we possess about him is mainly derived from a short biography by Folcard, monk of St. Bertin and Abbot of Thorney, who wrote in the eleventh century (Hardy, Catalogue of Brit. Hist., I, 373). According to him Botulph was born of noble Saxon parents who were Christians, and was sent with his brother Adulph to the Continent for the purpose of study. Adulph remained aboard, where he is stated to have become Bishop of Utrecht, though his name does not occur in any of the ancient lists. Botulph, returning to England, found favour with a certain Ethelmund, King of the southern Angles, whose sisters he had known in Germany, and was by him permitted to choose a tract of desolate land upon which to build a monastery. This place, surrounded by water and called Icanhoe (Ox-island), is commonly identified with the town of Boston in Lincolnshire, mainly on account of its name (Boston=Botulphs town). There is, however, something to suggest that the true spot may be the village of Iken in Suffolk which of old was almost encircled by the little river Alde, and in which the church is also dedicated to St. Botulph. In favour of Lincolnshire must be reckoned the fact that St. Botulph was much honoured in the North and in Scotland. Thus his feast was entered in the York calendar but not in that of Sarum. Moreover, even Folcard speaks of the Scots as Botulphs neighbours (vicini). In favour of Suffolk, on the other hand, may be quoted the tradition that St. Botulph, who is also called bishop, was first buried at Grundisburgh, a village near Woodbridge, and afterwards translated to Bury St. Edmunds. This, however, may be another person, since he is always closely associated with a certain St. Jurmin (Arnold, Memorials of Bury, I, 352). That Botulph really did build a monastery at Icanhoe is attested by an entry in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle under the year 654: Botulf ongan thoet mynster timbrian oet Yceanho, i.e. Botulph began to build the minster at Icanhoe. That the saint must have lived somewhere in the Eastern counties is proved by the indisputable evidence of the Historia Abbatum (Plummers Bede, I, 389), where we learn that Ceolfrid, Bedes beloved master at Wearmouth, journied to the East Angles in order that he might see the foundation of Abbot Botulphus, whom fame had proclaimed far and wide to be a man of remarkable life and learning, full of the grace of the Holy Spirit, and the account goes on to say that Ceolfrid having been abundantly instructed, so far as was possible in a short time, returned home so well equipped that no one could be found more learned than he either in ecclesiastical or monastic traditions. Folcard represents St. Botulph as living and dying at Icanhoe in spite of the molestations of the evil spirits to which he was exposed at his first coming. Later accounts, e.g. the lessons of the Schleswig Breviary, suppose him to have changed his habitation more than once and to have built at one time a monastery upon the bank of the Thames in honour of St. Martin. His relics are said after the incursions of the Danes to have been recovered and divided by St. Aethelwold between Ely, Thorney Abbey, and King Edgars private chapel. What is more certain is that St. Botulph was honoured by many dedications of churches, over fifty in all, especially in East Anglia and in the North. His name is perpetuated not only by the little town of Boston in Lincolnshire with its American homonym, but also by Bossal in Yorkshire, Botesdale in Suffolk, Botolph Bridge in Huntingdonshire, and Botolph in Sussex. In England his feast was kept on 17 June, in Scotland on 25 June.

@: Charles Ryder's Schooldays, charles, motifs, religion


Evelyn Waugh @ CatholicAuthors.com

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Evelyn Waugh @ CatholicAuthors.com:

The most striking example of Chestertons influence on Waugh is to be found in the way that Chesterton inspired Brideshead Revisited, arguably the finest of Waughs novels and undeniably one of the greatest novels of the 20th century. The novels central theme of the redemption of lost souls by means of the unseen hook and invisible line the twitch upon the thread was taken from one of Chestertons Fr. Brown stories. Waugh told a friend that he was anxious to obtain a copy of the omnibus edition of the Fr. Brown stories at the time he was putting the finishing touches on Brideshead, and a memorandum he wrote for MGM studios when a film version of the novel was being considered confirmed the profundity of Chestertons influence:

The Roman Catholic Church has the unique power of keeping remote control over human souls which have once been part of her. G.K. Chesterton has compared this to the fishermans line, which allows the fish the illusion of free play in the water and yet has him by the hook; in his own time the fisherman by a twitch upon the thread draws the fish to land.

The Chestertonian metaphor was not lost on Ronald Knox when he first read Brideshead Revisited: once you reach the end, needless to say the whole cast - even Beryl - falls into place and the twitch upon the thread happening in the very bowels of Metroland is inconceivably effective.

In many respects, Waughs finest novel is a reiteration of the theme found in his article for the Daily Express. It is a tale of hope among the ruins of a vanishing civilization in which the light of Christianity shines out amidst the chaos.

Brideshead Revisited sold exceedingly well on both sides of the Atlantic. In England, the Tablet acclaimed it a book for which it is safe to prophesy a lasting place among the major works of fiction. In America, Time described Waugh as a stylist unexcelled among contemporary novelists.

The praise was tempered by a vociferous minority who disliked Brideshead Revisited on both political and religious grounds. In particular, the American critic Edmund Wilson criticized the religious dimension in the novel. He was outraged (quite legitimately by his standards) at finding God introduced into my story, Waugh replied. I believe that you can only leave God out by making your characters pure abstractions. Modern novelists, Waugh continued, try to represent the whole human mind and soul and yet omit its determining character - that of being Gods creature with a defined purpose. So in my future books there will be two things to make them unpopular: a preoccupation with style and the attempt to represent man more fully, which to me means only one thing, man in his relation to God.

With the publication of Brideshead Revisited, Waugh completed the metamorphosis from ultramodern to ultramontane, and in so doing passed from fashion to anti-fashion. As with so many of the other converts at the vanguard of the Catholic Literary Revival, his work was an act of subcreation reflecting the glory of creation itself. As Waugh himself put it: There is an Easter sense in which all things are made new in the risen Christ. A tiny gleam of this is reflected in all true art. What is true of art is as true of the artist. In the works of Waugh, as in the works of the other literary converts, a tiny gleam of Christ is always reflected.

@: religion, waugh


"The school had been chosen for Charles because, at the age of eleven, he had had a religious phase..."

contra mundum
The school had been chosen for Charles because, at the age of eleven, he had had a religious phase and told his father that he wished to become a priest.

Good heavens, his father said; or do you mean a parson?

A priest of the Anglican Church, said Charles precisely.

Thats better. I thought you meant a Roman Catholic. Well, a parsons is not at all a bad life for a man with a little money of his own. They cant remove you except for flagrant immorality. Your uncle has been trying to get rid of his fellow at Boughton for ten yearsa most offensive fellow but perfectly chaste. He wont budge. Its a great thing in life to have a place you cant be removed fromtoo few of them.

But the phase had passed and lingered now only in Charless love of Gothic architecture and breviaries.

- Charles Ryders Schooldays

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From Grimes to Brideshead: the early novels of Evelyn Waugh, by Robert Reginald Garnett

contra mundum

The War and Brideshead Revisited: I Do Not Want Any More Experiences


Wine is the symbol and sacrament of the worlds good things, of which Rex Mottram is ignorant and of which Ryder is unfairly deprived by the war. Even Waugh later had reservations about Brides-beads epicurean lust, writing to Graham Greene, for example, in 1950: Talking of re-reading, I re-read Brideshead and was appalled. I can find many excusesthat it was the product Consule Bracken of spam, Nissen huts, black-outbut it wont do for peacetime. And later he told an interviewer:

It is very much a child of its time. Had it not been written when it was, at a very bad time in the war when there was nothing to eat, it would have been a different book. The fact that it is rich in evocative descriptionin gluttonous writingis a direct result of the privations and austerity of the times.

The diaries give a slightly less harrowing impression of Waughs privations; certainly as he wrote Bridesbead he was seldom without wine, once having some of his private stock of claret fetched from Piers Court; noting later, during Lent, that he drank a great deal of good wine which is getting scarcer daily but still procurable by those who take the trouble; treating his old Oxford friends John Sutro and Harold Acton to a fine dinnergulls eggs, consomme, partridge, haddock on toast, Perrier Jouet 28, nearly a bottle a head, liqueur brandy, Partaga cigarsan unusual feast for these times; another time drinking champagne at

@: books, bubbles, religion, waugh


Moral Imagination & the Catholic Faith in Evelyn Waughs Modern Novel [Brideshead Redisited], by Thomas Howard

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The late Russell Kirk spoke often of the moral imagination. By it he referred to that whole backdrop, or set of underpinnings, that corroborates for us mortals the fixities of the moral law. We are not angels: hence we do not encounter Reality directly. We are protected (from heaven and damnation, says Eliot) by the merciful arch, or filter, we might say, of the temporal and spatial, which bring with them the forms and colors that address our imaginations.

When we use this phrase, moral imagination, we do not mean that the moral world exists only in the realm of fancy. Rather we refer to the vision of good and evil that we find in works of fiction. It is a vision that not only suffuses these works, but also presides over the terms of these fictions, nay, that determines the very stuff and texture of them.

Take, for example, the fourteenth-century Vision of William Concerning Piers the Plowman: here we have, in an allegory to be sure, not merely the picture of a personality, or of a whole world, but, beyond these, the vision of what constitutes goodness and badness. Or take Gawain: the trouble in that poem is that Gawain has sinned (not that he is out of touch with his feelings, or that he has been victimized). There is a moral litmus test brought to bear on his behavior. In The Faerie Queene, all the thick woods and grottoes and hags and perils are to be understood in moral, and not merely psychological, or linguistic, terms. In Measure for Measure, the thing that has them all apoplectic in Vienna is the matter of sin and its punishment. We playgoers may enjoy the leisure and luxury of beholding fascinating personalities at workIsabella and Angelo and Lucio and Claudiobut the nub of the drama is a moral matter.

The Waning of Moral Imagination

It is not without significance that we often reach for Renaissance and pre-Renaissance fiction when we speak of the moral imagination. By the time we get to Fielding, and then Jane Austen, Trollope, Henry James, and Virginia Woolf, we are not sure that moral is altogether the apt word. To be sure, all of these authors undergird their stories, in some sense, with a world of moral suppositions. Trollope, for example, shows how all the dramatic currents and countercurrents flow over a bed, so to speak, of moral assumptions. The sanctity of marriage is there, for example, and truthfulness, and generosity, and fidelity to ones duties, and benevolence: it is all there. But the main thing that engages our attention in Barset, or among the Pallisers, is not a rock-bottom question about goodness and evil; Trollope has not set out primarily to extol morality or religious truth.

Walker Percy makes this distinction, speaking of fiction:

Let me define the sort of novelist I have in mind. . . . He is . . . a writer who has an explicit and ultimate concern with the nature of man and the nature of reality. . . . One might apply to the novelist such adjectives as philosophical, metaphysical, prophetic, eschatological, and even religious.. . . Such a class might include writers as diverse as Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Camus, Sartre, Faulkner, Flannery OConnor. Sartre, one might object, is an atheist. He is, but his atheism is religious in the sense intended here: that the novelist betrays a passionate conviction about mans nature, the world, and mans obligation in the world. By the same token, I would exclude much of the English novelwithout prejudice: I am quite willing to believe that Jane Austen and Samuel Richardson are better novelists than Sartre and OConnor. The 19th century Russian novelists were haunted by God; many of the French existentialists are haunted by his absence. The English novelist is not much interested one way or another. The English novel traditionally takes place in a society as every one sees it and takes it for granted. If there are vicars and churches prominent in the society, there will be vicars and churches in the novel. If not, not. So much for vicars and churches. ( The Message in the Bottle. New York. 1982. p. 103).

Waugh Steals a March

It is not to be urged that Evelyn Waugh should be thought the equal of Tolstoy, or even of Jane Austen. Nevertheless, his fiction raises piquant questions, if we are speaking of the moral imagination and twentieth-century English language fictionparticularly Brideshead Revisited. But his Sword of Honor trilogy also would certainly raise similar questions, most notably in the figure of the protagonists father, old Gervase Crouchback. We would need to undertake a wide canvass in order to discover another character in recent fiction who exhibits in such stark colors the quality that we can only call holiness. We, jades that we moderns are, find ourselves hailed, against all plausibility, with holinessthat is the only word for itin the figure of Gervase Crouchback. And it is done, mirabile dictu, without the faintest whiff of sentimentality.

But in Brideshead Revisited, Waugh has done the almost unthinkable. He has given us (jades, if the accusation is not too fierce) a full-blown acclamation of Catholic piety, vision, morals, and dogma, but in terms that steal a march past merely modern sensibilities, and in fact virtually swamp those sensibilities.

It might be put this way: we are a skeptical epoch. Waughs book is full of skepticism: indeed, the narrator is a card-carrying skeptic. Charles Ryder, the protagonist, is a thoroughly modern man. We might congratulate ourselves on being a somewhat cynical epochand the book is redolent of cynicism. Again, we are an unbelieving era, and the whole drama in Brideshead is seen through the lens of unbelief. Yet again, we are most certainly a highly self-conscious eraand the narrator in Brideshead is agonizingly self-conscious, almost paralytically so. (In the BBC television series, Jeremy Irons, in depicting Charles Ryder, displayed incredible dramatic prowess by making the reticent, self-conscious, laconic Charles a figure who seizes and holds our attention, and affection even.)

Oddly, Brideshead would seem able to take its place entirely comfortably on the shelf of modern fiction (as opposed to other fiction which has religious overtones, like that of Tolkien or Williams or Chesterton, for whom categories like fantasy, and metaphysical thriller have to be invoked). And yet Brideshead takes us all the way in to the world of Christian belief, piety, and dogma.

Upstaging & Disarming

How does Waugh do it? My hunch is that he does it by bravado. It is bravado that is Waughs trump card. Knowing that he is writing in a highly blas

@: bubbles, let me explain them to you, religion


Brideashead revisited