THE LETTERS OF EVELYN WAUGH AND DIANA COOPER by Artemis Cooper

THE LETTERS OF EVELYN WAUGH AND DIANA COOPER

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 Lifetime of letters largely from Waugh to Lady Diana, a famous beauty ten years his senior, whom he loved but never bedded. Her letters to him have mostly vanished. These are not great letters, nor do they show Waugh at his most brutally Waspish, a celebrated quality that Cooper did not bring out in him. Waugh began writing Lady Diana, her editor/granddaughter Artemis Cooper tells us, in 1932, while deeply depressed (his wife had deserted him in 1929 after barely a year of marriage, after which he'd converted to Catholicism and thought he could not remarry), and went on writing to her until his death in 1966. The letters were lost until they resurfaced in 1987 and went up for sale. Early letters through WW II were posted by Waugh after parties or seeing Lady Diana play the Madonna on stage in The Miracle or while on his many travels to Abyssinia and elsewhere. They are in an intimate shorthand and filled with friends who pass by like fireflies. The letters rarely enter into any subject for more than a few sentences, though Waugh gets fairly stylish about Cyril Connolly: ``I think he sees himself as a sort of Public Relations Officer for Literature...He is a droll old sponge....'' The best letters come in the 1950's, though by then Waugh is a heavy drinker and Diana filled with black bouts of melancholia and her husband laid low with cirrhosis. Waugh asks, ``Darling Baby/Was our evening out hell? I was looking forward to it so much and what must I do but get pissed. I am so awfully sorry and ashamed. What did we talk about?'' Toward the end he's burned out, refers to his works as potboilers, and prays for death--which comes on Easter Sunday. Many charming moments, far apart. (Sixteen pages of b&w photographs--not seen.)

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-395-56265-1
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1991




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