Friday, December 8, 2017

"Malcolm Muggeridge, always shrewd on matters of social provenance, bracketed him alongside Orwell as a ‘bovarist’ (as in Madame Bovary), bent on disguising the reality of his affiliations under glossy camouflage."

A groaning shelf is now filled with the complete, annotated works of Evelyn Waugh (1903-66). A review concludes,
As a scholarly treatment of a modern British novelist, The Complete Works of Evelyn Waugh looks as if it will stand in a class of its own, not only for its presentation of definitive texts but also for its patient accumulation of large amounts of personal material that have hitherto escaped the biographers’ gaze. I was particularly struck by a ‘private communication’ to the editors of Personal Writings, in which John Chancellor, ticked off by Waugh for wearing the wrong clothes at a wedding, remembers asking him, ‘Mr Waugh, why do you keep calling me Chandler when you know my name is Chancellor?’ Waugh replied, ‘When I was at school they called me “Wuffles” – I didn’t blub about it.’ The footnotes, meanwhile, are very nearly insane. Sample, of a man parenthetically mentioned in the Lancing diaries: 
Francis Alexander (Sandy) Ferguson (1905–82), s. of Sir Arthur Ferguson, inspector of constabulary for Scotland (1904–27), scion of a rich landed family (formerly of Pitfour, Aberdeenshire), reduced to a nomadic lifestyle by his grandfather’s gambling excesses; Fields House, LC (Sep 1918–Jul 1922); second-tier member of EW’s Corpse Club (587, n. 2); became a professional soldier; served with Royal West Africa Frontier Force (WWII) and in the Burmese Arakan campaign with the 81st (West Africa) Division (Feb–May 1944). His br. Angus Ferguson was chief constable of Northamptonshire. 
What would Waugh have made of this scholarly juggernaut, which appears under the imprint of the university that he left without troubling to complete his degree? As well as being flattered, you suspect he would also have been highly amused.
Henry Bemis' appreciation of Waugh is here. 

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