Evelyn Waugh Book Review by Paul Johnson

For all of you Evelyn Waugh lovers out there.  I have dug up a little something to whet your appetites.  It is a sort of historical book review by Paul Johnson of A Handful of Dust.

Here’s a preview (and coincidently my very favorite part):

Waugh’s gifts as a storyteller are now so obvious to us, and fit so well into his overwhelming personality, that it is impossible to think of him as anything else. But he might not have become a novelist at all. He came down from Oxford having acquired expensive tastes in cigars, wine, travel and rich company, and for many years his main concern was how to earn enough to indulge them.

As his father was a publisher and his elder brother an established author of fiction, writing was clearly the family trade. But this might have operated strongly against taking it up, had cash been easily come by in other ways. He was drawn more to the visual arts than to writing, and illustrated several of his earlier books. What he respected was craftsmanship, and his happiest days, he later said, were spent learning to be a carpenter. Indeed the aspect of writing which appealed most to him, all his life, was the choice and manipulation of words, and the carving of sentences and paragraphs.

As things stood, an unqualified young man with a poor degree had little alternative but to take up schoolmastering in one of the private prep schools which then proliferated. This Waugh did for three years, the unhappiest in his life, which included an unsuccessful suicide bid. For someone with his destructive, anarchic and ruthless sense of humour, teaching on the slippery bottom rung of the educational ladder was an opportunity to acquire grisly material for fictional use.

To read the whole thing CLICK HERE (it’s not very long)


You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>