EVELYN WAUGH AND HIS WORLD by David -- Ed. Pryce-Jones

EVELYN WAUGH AND HIS WORLD

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A spirited muster of articles and varied commentaries by old acquaintances (and a critic or two) of the late satirical novelist, plus an exceptional selection of photographs of art, artifacts and Waugh himself -- often like his autobiographical prototype Pinfold, ""eyes bulging with wrath that was half-facetious, and with half-simulated incredulity."" Evelyn Waugh, asserts Pryce-Jones, ""reigned most powerfully in the kingdom of disapproval."" His distaste with the way of the world expressed fictionally in hilarious grotesqueries, icy wit, and a contentious political and theological conservatism is examined most closely here by Malcolm Bradbury in his essay on Waugh's American ""obsession."" The place without civilization ""is both threatening and attractive,"" and Waugh very much a novelist of the Twenties was fascinated by the ""surreal modern milieux"" -- from Mayfair to Forest Lawn. Yet like other purgative satirists -- Swift or Huxley -- there was a personal need for religious authority; Waugh was an intellectually stringent convert to Catholicism, explained in part by Father D'Arcy, S.J. in an article here, as a need to make life meaningful within the evil he recognized so ""unerringly."" There are memories of school days, including a generous estimate by Peter Quennell whom Waugh baited unmercifully; some hilarious views of that unlikely pair, Randolph Churchill and Waugh during the war; and there are delightful personal portraits including an affectionate tribute by Anne Fleming who was twice driven to physical violence by his malignant assaults on dinner guest and child alike. Also Waugh's spirits were bucked by accident: ""he liked things to go wrong."" A random collection which holds together nicely, and there is more than one acerbic mention of the unobtainable Waugh papers locked in the vaults of the University of Texas, with pointed references to Mr. Joyboy's profession.

Pub Date: Nov. 14th, 1973
Publisher: Little, Brown