Evelyn Waugh

This year is the centenary of the two greatest writers in English of the last century: Evelyn Waugh and George Orwell. I hope to put up a substantial post about them both at some point. But for now, check out this and this interview with Waugh.

A sample:

Interviewer: You are in favour of capital punishment?
EW: For an enormous number of offences, yes.
Interviewer: And you yourself would be prepared to carry it out?
EW: Do you mean, actually do the hangman’s work?
Interviewer: Yes.
EW: I should think it very odd for them to choose a novelist for such tasks.

This very good essay, about V.S. Naipaul astutely notes a certain type of “conservatism” which was shared by Kipling, Conrad, Waugh and (despite his being professedly a “man of the Left”) Orwell. Waugh is quoted as saying this about Kipling:

He believed civilization to be something laboriously achieved which was only precariously defended. He wanted to see the defenses fully manned and he hated the liberals because he thought them gullible and feeble, believing in the easy perfectibility of man and ready to abandon the work of centuries for sentimental qualms.

That still sounds about right.

3 thoughts on “Evelyn Waugh”

  1. …and all could be saved by the Catholic Church. Orwell, whatever else he may have been, was in my estimation hardly one of the century’s “great writers.” Good, yes. Great, no.

  2. Well Kipling, for what it’s worth, also hated Chicago: “I have struck a city – a real city – and they call it Chicago… I urgently desire never to see it again. It is inhabited by savages.”

  3. Freddie, we’ll have to agree to disagree about Orwell. (I have devoted a lot of time to reading and re-reading him, and I have reached a well-considered opinion.)

    Bobby, Kipling hated a lot of stuff, and a lot of people who visited Chicago in those days were absolutely horrified by it. Plus there is a a long history of English travel writers in the 19th C coming to the USA and writing about how horrible and squalid it was.

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