- Paperback: 896 pages
- Publisher: Phoenix (8 April 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0753827387
- ISBN-13: 978-0753827383
- Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 5 x 21.5 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (1 customer review)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 598,453 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Diaries Of Evelyn Waugh Paperback – 8 Apr 2010
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More About the Author
These diary entries are often far more candid than his letters and he is adept at demolishing a character in one line. (CATHOLIC HERALD)
The diaries of one of our finest novelists - a unique literary document, reissued in Phoenix paperback.See all Product Description
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
However, if I actually toted up the writers who were more or less horrible human beings, I wonder if they would outnumber those who seem to have been gentlepersons? I certainly wouldn't have wanted to have lunch with the following great writers who were arguably mean swine in life: Ernest Hemingway, Wyndham Lewis, Jonathan Swift, Kingsley Amis, de Sade, Genet, Philip Larkin ... and likely at the top of this list of unspeakable people would be Evelyn Waugh, with V.S. Naipaul a shadowy second.
Sadly, Waugh is probably the writer I like most of those I've mentioned, although Amis is certainly very entertaining at his best, even enlightening at times (THE GREEN MAN, e.g.).
Waugh was a snob in both the ordinary and religious senses, a boor in all senses of the word (someone once mentioned that he looked like a stuck pig). Reading the biography by Christopher Sykes, a close friend and fellow Catholic, makes you wonder if Sykes intended to damn Waugh with very faint praise.
He wasn't even kind to his family, treating his children in such a heavy-handed way that even Auberon, the most successful of them in worldly terms, never overcame his father's mistreatment. Laura, his wife, appears to have been his automoton and baby factory, even though those who knew her testified to her intelligence.
His bad nature permeates the book under review, as well as a capacity for boredom and depression that was likely organic. An appreciation and understanding of other great writers wasn't part of his equipment: though he apparently could read French fluently, he dismissed Proust as middling and declared that the characters in Stendhal's CHARTREUSE were psychologically implausible.
So why are Waugh's novels worth reading? First, because his prose style was perfect of its kind. (He claimed that the study of classical languages in boyhood was a requirement for being the kind of writer he was, though Kingsley Amis and V.S. Naipaul give the lie to that.).
His best books (DECLINE AND FALL, BLACK MISCHIEF, SCOOP) are wickedly hilarious and stylistically near-perfect.
Even his "serious" fiction, including BRIDESHEAD REVISITED, which is partly propaganda for the worst sort of mindless Catholicism, deserves to be read because it's so well-written.
Susan Sontag once opined that literature was not an equal-opportunity employer. In the case of Waugh, this is true to the nth degree.
He was a first-class s---, but I'll rereread his best books until I too become a portion of eternity.
1. If you love his novels, you should read his diaries.
2. You will realize where A Handful of Dust came from.
3. This book could knock a grown man out, both figuratively and literally.
4. if you love his novels, maybe you shouldn't read where his brilliance came from.
5. Read Scoop afterward to wash away the bittersweetness.