Evelyn Waugh's earlier satirical novels often heavily rest on legends, fairy-tales, and romance. Decline and Fall illustrates, on the one hand, Paul Pennyfeather's descent into hell, and his eventual return to the safe heaven of Scone College and, on the other, the importance 'Fortune, a much maligned lady' (1), plays in his destiny. In A Handful of Dust, Brenda Last is compared with 'the imprisoned princess of a fairy story' (2), and the Arthurian legend, which underlies Tony Last's hopeless quest, provides the reader with a standard with which to measure him, his illusions and achievement. As a matter of fact, Waugh seems to be particularly conversant with, and attached to, the episodes and technique of what, for want of a better word, we must call fairy-tale fiction. He uses it, so to speak, to catalyse the meaning and morals of his satire. This is particularly typical of Scoop, which Waugh himself, in his Preface to the Revised Edition, called 'a light-hearted tale' (3), any attentive reader can somewhat improve upon such a definition and call the novel a modern fairy-tale: a fairy-tale because of the incredible number of supernatural interventions, a modern one because some fairy-tale characters and episodes are deftly transformed into the modern heroes or stock situations to be found in current spy-novels. Such a heavy reliance on types or characters, normally outside the scope of the novel, raises some problems, particularly at the level of coherence of the work of art and the message the satirist wants to convey.
The adventures of William Boot take him into four different realms, so described as to suggest their being, if not enchanted, at least rather different from our workaday world. The story successively moves from the English country-side to Mayfair, Fleet Street, and Ishmaelia, a journey which gradually allows the reader to realize the savagery of the human world at large. Behind the rather hackneyed opposition between town and country, civilization and wilderness, we quickly surmise a profound identity, that of enchantment.
Boot Magna Hall, more than a haven of rest or a 'lush place', immediately conjures up the image of the Castle in Sleeping Beauty where life stopped long ago, its inmates being reduced to the state of fossils from a former age. The world of Mayfair is one of chance and coincidence, but it is also in no way dissimilar from a jungle (the forest of fairy-tales) in which English gentlemen, such as John Courtenay Boot, are liable to be devoured by American ogresses. Money, might and lies rule over Fleet Street, whereas evil is rife in Ishmaelia. More strikingly, perhaps, evil is felt not to be so much a dominant trait of this African backward place as the foster-child of both Mayfair and Fleet Street which always unite where profit and politics are concerned. The Ishmaelian political intrigues, the impending civil war, are gradually found to have been initiated by the so-called civilized countries and their higher circles.
Considered from another aspect, these worlds have hardly any link with one another (excepting of course vice, strife and war); they are influence-proof, self-sustained, each impervious to the others as if the spells they used at home became innocuous abroad. As William Boot can cope with none of them, he prefers to cling to the safe haunt of the family-hall. Julia Stitch, in spite of appearances, proves powerless in Fleet Street (the wrong Boot gets the job and her protégé is left stranded). Lord Copper, although omnipotent in his realm (4), is absolutely lost in Mayfair (5); he feels like a prisoner, a quarry in hostile surroundings. As a rule, the leaders, almighty at home, are robbed of their powers when they venture into foreign territory. What is more, each territory is dominated by an edifice drawn straight from the fairy-tale universe, inhabited by a unique god who is aided and abetted by a number of fabulous animals or instruments that he uses to thwart his opponents' schemes and projects.
In order better to guide the reader, Waugh carefully drops clues, scatters symbolical descriptions throughout his story. Julia Stitch's room is presented as a kind of magic cavern, a modern Sesame in which all kinds of treasures are hoarded; the complete paraphernalia of fairy fiction - anagrams included - appear in a few lines. A young man chased by Julia shelters in a cavern of a new type (6). Later on (pp. 52-53), the description of the Beast - another typical name, and Lord Copper's enchanted castle - also harps on the same theme: no doubt this is a unique place (7), even the doors speak, and William spends the night 'aloft' in a new haunt of Lord Copper's, after walking 'along a white, unnaturally silent passage with no desire except to sleep and awake from his night-mare in the familiar, shabby surroundings of Boot Magna.' (8). More striking still are the two edifices standing for William's abodes at home and in Ishmaelia. Boot Magna Hall, mainly conspicuous for its decay, is made remarkable by the 'strange' moods of its lake which no human being can keep in check, a lake prone to all sorts of pranks and hoaxes, remarkable also for its park whose immense trees suffering 'from the various malignant disorders that vegetation is heir to' irresistibly evoke people atoning for long forgotten faults and struck by magic spells. The Pension Dressler, in Jacksonburg, is probably the most arresting case in point: a hotel and a farm haunted by a ferocious menagerie, surrounded by a half-sterile garden, it looks like a mess or a maze with its locked doors and mysterious recesses; the kitchen itself, 'a place of smoke and wrath' (9), being quite reminiscent of Hell.
All these magic edifices seem to be dominated by gods, superhuman types, or at least extraordinary beings. Boot Magna Hall, Sleeping Beauty's Castle, is peopled with a multitude of bedridden women, run by a few inefficient, unobtrusive men, kept by a large number of both enfeebled and ravenous servants; it cannot but look eerie and utterly cut off from the ordinary world. Its inmates thrive on their own misfortunes and cling to the place, with the exception of jolly Uncle Theodore, whose repeated attempts to escape ineluctably liken him to a prisoner (10). In Mayfair Julia is equated with a pagan goddess (11). Her left and right hands are doing two different things at the same time; she is simultaneously engaged in a thousand separate operations ranging from crosswords to Virgil, from decoration to charities. When driving, she disregards conventions and the rule of the road, she acts according to her whims and fancies, now tearing along on the kerb, now plunging into a gentleman's lavatory. The street is her kingdom, her car a magic instrument (12) in which she can 'do things. . . that you couldn't do in a real one.' (13) Through what she calls the Stitch service (14) she showers benefits on her protégés taking advantage of the preternatural powers she wields on others (15). As for Lord Copper, Waugh very strongly suggests the extraordinary power of life and death he has on man from his 'frightful mansion' (16) and his almost royal position through the description of his own picture in the Megalopolitan building (17). Two lines suffice to sketch the personality of this God from ancient Greece (suggested by the adjective 'chryselephantine') reigning over modern technology (malachite pedestal). His ruthless rights on his subordinates pervade the novel (18) and show how careful he is to cause the acutest pain to his victims. In Ishmaelia Frau Dressler, who is always ready to turn out the guests she dislikes, is no less striking, when shouting incomprehensible insults at the natives from her smoky, hellish kitchen.
In fact the whole book swarms with preternatural or superhuman beings - Wenlock Jakes is said to be fabulous (19), his servant, transparently named Paleologue, is described as 'Jakes's jackal' (20) etc. - all the more so as fabulous animals and magic instruments help the 'gods' in thwarting their rivals' plans and arrangements, or in promoting their favourites' enterprizes. Julia's flat is decorated with owls, Minerva's birds; she is interested by a lion's head, and from her daughter Josephine, 'the eight year old Stitch prodigy construing her day's passage of Virgil' (21), we gather that wild boars, and even winds, obey her (22). Corker, one of William's future good genii, who is so appositely introduced to the hero (23) also collects animals such as an elephant of synthetic ivory which he 'draws up on a string' (24), presumably for fear it should go astray. The bestiary of the Pension Dressler is even more ominous. Prior to the emblematic bats, we are successively confronted with 'Frau Dressler's pig a prodigious beast', 'a three-legged dog barking from the mouth of a barrel', (no doubt a mutant version of three-headed Cerberus), and a variety of exotic pets ranging from baboons and gorillas to cheetahs, all of them characteristically terrified by an aggressive milch-goat so strong as to resist 'jerks that would have been death to an animal of any other species.' (25)
Never has anyone met a more enchanted world, or rather more enchanted worlds. As usual in fairy fiction, the hero is the only link between the antagonistic kingdoms and the tale is more spatial than temporal. William, the hero, must take a journey; his adventures can be, to a certain extent, termed a pilgrim's progress. He who lived literally on animals (thanks to his bi-weekly half column 'Lush Places') is ousted from his kingdom and summoned to London by a monster, the Beast. On the one hand he has offended another fabulous animal, the Great Crested Grebe (26), and on the other, he has received an uncalled for favour, erroneously bestowed on him instead of his namesake - John Courtenay Boot - by a witch (Julia) and a magician (Lord Copper): in this twofold perspective, William's journey to Ishmaelia becomes both redemptive and initiatory. As soon as he leaves Boot Magna, William embodies THE fairy - tale hero: he undergoes various metamorphoses for the better or for the worse, is successively changed into a traveller, a journalist, a lover, a popular hero - each time as if at the stroke of some magic wand. Be he the Sport of Destiny or the Fairy Godchild, he submits to the usual operations before going on with his journey.
On the train, in the pub he absorbs various drinks, all of them magic beverages, which are meant to protect him (27). At the hotel his clothes are taken away from him by a 'page with a face of ageless evil' and his room is left 'bereft of any link with' his 'previous existence' (28): William is obviously born again - a new man. Finally a visit to the emporium equips him with all sorts of talismans - Christmas pudding and collapsible canoe included - which, odd as they are, will prove most useful later.
Even his behaviour alters as he himself becomes a new creature. After his fantastic journey through the elements (plane, ship, train successively take him through air, water, and earth), he keeps in contact with the higher world of midgets, genii and fairies, is inspired by them as is proved by his dreams, nightmares and even wishful thinking (29). The immediate granting of his desperate and lyrical invocation (30) shows how cherished and protected by the gods he is. As a matter of fact William is consistently and repeatedly helped by quite a number of good genii with transparent names. On the ship, Corker, the good bloke and also the fib-maker, deciphers the cryptic messages from the Beast, allows William to interpret them rightly, and introduces him to the consul, Bannister, whose role in William's accession to fame and success will be outstanding. It is well worth describing Bannister's influence in detail. After the exchange of passwords characteristically concerned with animals (Beastly, Moke, pp. 113-114), Bannister invites William to dinner, (Corker, the go-between, is naturally left outside). At dinner, Bannister clearly a magician at the candle-lit table, as the two silent boys in white gowns attending on him, and the untamed cheetah (p.117) suggest - acquaints William with the essential data of the conspiracy: he explains Laku, and the general lines of Benito's schemes; he reveals the presence near Benito of Smerdyakev, the Russian Jew, and advises William to 'look into him' (p. 119). Then he sends him to Frau Dressler's Pension thus paving the way to his success, enabling him to find solitude and become acquainted with Kätchen. Finally he explains Benito's attitude and tactics (p. 174). Bannister's powerlessness is in keeping with fairy-tale stock situations in which enchanted people must often act vicariously to gain their release. As to Kätchen, another powerless character, she displays a twofold influence on the story. Gold is a leitmotiv in tales and she becomes William's fairy god-mother by making him rich, thanks to the 'Stones.' But she also has a preternatural knowledge of the mysterious and incomprehensible goings-on in Jacksonburg. Although she has no possibility of personal interpretation, her position in town enables her to provide William with all the elements necessary for his scoop.
As their gestures or words clearly show (31), Baldwin and the Swede Eric Olafsen - the ogre and the 'god from the machine' (32) whose many identities, metamorphoses and ubiquity attest the godly qualities - either requite William's former good turns or definitely protect him. For some reason neither Corker, Bannister nor Kätchen can act. They probably expect William to break the charms that hold them prisoners but technically they help the reader to realize that success in such a world is impossible to anyone who is not helped. Indeed Salter, whom no one ever backs, will never conquer the realm of Boot Magna. As for J.C. Boot, far from being rewarded by Julia, he will, ironically, be chastized for lying to the American man-eater. He who is afraid of women is sent out to the Antarctic with a crew of 'cropped Amazons' (33), thus falling out of the frying pan into the fire. Last, Kätchen and her husband are doomed to eternal wanderings with no hope whatsoever of ever stopping at a friendly place.
To sum up, in Scoop, the hero is presumably rewarded for his goodness to disguised fairies, while other characters - irrespective of their merits and demerits - are either heavily punished or ironically rewarded for reasons we cannot guess. The gods are shown to be as divided and erratic as the mortals. The conclusion of the novel is thus in keeping with the genre, in which morals hardly ever become a central motive; moreover the prophecies and final prize-giving are faithful to the style and aesthetics of fairy stories (34). At bottom, there seems to be no sense in such a world, chance and irony reign supreme, rewards and punishments are dealt out of random, and the godly distributive justice cannot be vindicated on human terms. Besides, one has the feeling that a number of modernistic elements intrude into the fairy-tale and concur to warp and even mar its significance.
Indeed, in spite, or perhaps because, (35) of Waugh's sedulous care and his painstaking attention to detail, the fairy-tale elements and atmosphere are at times superseded by the more fashionable devices of the contemporary spy-novel. At the most superficial level, the magic carpet and the witch's broom are replaced by planes and parachutes. More interesting perhaps is the transformation of the plot which deals with political intrigue, mysterious, underhand dealings and pokes fun at modern politics in its burlesque reference to topical events (35 bis), and in its description of the ruthless competition which the so-called civilized countries engage upon for the annexation of the rest of the world. There, Waugh extensively resorts to the stock tricks of this new fad, the spy-novel. Suspense is introduced through an undue complication of the plot at odds with, and prejudicial to, the clarity of the tale and' the message it might impart.
However, the author displays all his mastery when creating his characters: the fairy-tale types smoothly grow into modern spy-novel personae; the villain becomes the modern politician, a combination of everything hateful in the world of current politics. Gabriel Benito, etymologically the Blessed Man of God, ironically stands for a dictator, an atheist and a communist. (Let us remember that whereas Gabriel was an angel, the herald of good tidings who declared the coming of the Messiah, Gabriel Benito tries to herald the coming of Communism). His surname 'Benito' makes him at the same time a 'preposterous antichrist and a glaring caricature of Benito Mussolini. Waugh's skilfulness in promoting burlesque is such that the tale can no longer be taken seriously. Even more cleverly fused into the plot, Baldwin and Kätchen provide a link between ancient and modern fiction. Baldwin, the good genius, is changed into a superman or (anachronistically so) a kind of James Bond. The aura of mystery surrounding him and his activities, the prominent part he plays in the denouement, his ubiquity and sense of organisation allow England to carry the victory over the forces of evil and to gain the mineral claims for His Majesty, the King of England. Parodying the spy-novel, the author playfully strikes the nationalistic, chauvinistic chord.
As for Kätchen, the' poor maiden' condemned to eternal wanderings for an unknown fault, the unexpected benefactress, who requites William's bounty by showering gold and affection on him, she can also be seen as a new Matahari, an adventuress fascinated by gold, who lavishly uses her charms (36) in order to secure information and profit. Yet she is eventually defeated by the hero, after he has improved on all the opportunities she offered him. William, seen in this light, loses all naivete, but his newly acquired craftiness unfortunately cannot tally with his former self. In the same way there is an obvious incoherence in the two facets of Kätchen. Here, of course, burlesque and fun incongruously interfere with one another. Waugh, when pulling the strings of his puppet characters, is no longer in earnest. The modern elements of the tale, which seem to pave the way for birth of a new egotistic, cynically realistic William, jar with his withdrawal to the safer world of Boot Magna Hall. Both genres thus clash and preclude the reader from realizing the issues at stake. Indeed, Scoop may well be termed a modern fairy-tale in which romance and an apparently happy ending conclude a rather involved story. Yet the novel is also somewhat patchy, its components hardly fused together, and its overcomplicated plot goes contrary to Waugh's purpose which is to castigate or satirize the modern world. 'Castigat ridendo mores' the ancients said of comedy; here, Waugh laughs but his laughter blunts the edge of his satire, blurs the issues and debars him from chastizing the manners of his contemporaries.
If we consider the conclusion of Scoop, we realize that the narrative allows three different interpretations of William's adventures - the fairy-tale, the spy-novel and that presented in the conclusion in which the hero falls back into the ineffectual man we met at the outset of the novel - even though the author only considers one and rejects the others. We are really confronted with two stories, and the Ishmaelian episode is hardly linked with the Epilogue. At the end of the novel, the tables are turned; William seems to reach success. After his initiatory ordeal, the hero apparently grows into a god, lives in a Paradise Regained - a new lush place - free to choose his own life, able to rain benefits on his relations and friends. Such an ending is, at first sight, consistent both with the fairy-tale and the spy-novel. The obvious and superficial message allegorically presents modern society, power and vice defeated by naivete, humility and sincerity. Yet in such a case William's last metamorphosis equates him with the most knowing, unscrupulous rascals of Mayfair and Fleet Street: indeed he takes Lord Copper's money with no intention of writing anything but 'Lush Places.' 'A life contract for two thousand a year. Will you sign? William signed. He and Mr. Salter each folded his copy and put it in his pocket; each with a feeling of deep satisfaction.' (Scoop, p. 240). William's progress finally takes him to immorality, which is the only means of coping with Mayfair and beating it at its own game.
At the same time, William's withdrawal from the world of vice is ultimately presented as an error or a delusion. The Paradise he has regained is clearly secluded from the rest of the world (37), yet gradually encroached upon by the miasmas of mechanical civilization. A touch of pathetic fallacy definitely sentimentalizes the park ('sweet and still'). What's more, the purity of Boot Magna clearly entails sterility, as the metaphor comparing it to a strip of the moon discloses. In other words, the fairy world, chosen by William as his refuge, is not a paradise but, at best, a purgatory; if the hero thus obtains temporary tranquility (as some day the park will be overrun), he also forfeits life and creativity - man's higher functions. Waugh takes great care on the last page of the novel to suggest William's delusions by vigorously opposing one sentence from 'Lush Places' and what is meant as an objective description of Nature round the Hall (38). The idealized, sentimentalized world of William is now shown as it is, i.e. cruel, 'red in tooth and claw', as much of a jungle as those of Mayfair, Fleet Street, or Ishmaelia. Therefore the eventual retreat of a William, grown wealthy and successful overnight, solves none of the problems posed by the novel. His circular journey proves completely negative, and Waugh obliquely suggests that the hero's rejection of fame and glory is not enough if nothing more positive underlies it. William, the fairy godchild, ends his adventures as a passive simpleton, utterly deluded about the nature of the refuge he chose, unwilling to reflect on his predicament presumably because he finds reality too painful to cope with and prefers to immerse himself in the ideal world he constructs in his slumbering daydreams and uneventful life.
Such a conclusion is at odds with the fairy-tale and spy-novel elements and underlines the lack of coherence of the novel. The extraordinary events we have witnessed are finally presented as imaginary or impossible for such an antihero as William: the novel then falls to pieces when Waugh's satire lapses into inconsequence. The morals to be drawn from William's foreign adventures stand so far apart from that introduced in the epilogue that the fairy-tale and the spy-novel are felt to be altogether extraneous to the novel, or rather they achieve such paramount importance in the first part that the reader is apt to completely miss the real message of the author. At any rate, the double ending of Scoop is not satisfactorily fused into a whole, and, consequently, Waugh's lesson remains unconvincing.
To conclude, Waugh finally equates William with a common human being and eradicates the marvellous from the tale so that the Ishmaelian adventures become a kind of excrescence on the story whose positive outcome is eventually felt as the result of mere chance, as an accident of nature. Indeed, Man, in order to survive and fulfil himself, must not follow in William's footsteps, must not be the sport of destiny; he must find something else. 'Everything has got a moral if only you can find it,' this glib saying quite fits Scoop, the only problem being whether many readers will find Waugh's morals behind the screen of the fairy-tale, spy fiction and double ending, or only retain the enjoyment derived from the burlesque adventures of William Boot. On the whole, we feel entitled to say that the lesson is at variance with the technique, that the ambiguity directly comes from the literary treatment. In fact, Scoop stands for what Graham Greene called 'entertainment'; the lightness of the tale goes contrary to the author's moralistic intentions, or perhaps, on second thought, the elaborate technique is here meant to entice the reader into working out his own conclusions and solutions to the problem of life in general. Waugh's reluctance to become glaringly didactic may nave led him to over-complication.
What is important on a personal plane is that Waugh himself had found his personal solution as early as 1930. It is obvious that Scoop, marking his return to happiness, should also be (together with Put Out More Flags and Work Suspended) the last negative stage before positively committed works such as Brideshead Revisited. William Boot's retreat being insufficient, other solutions are needed if man wants to achieve fulfilment and happiness. Waugh himself a posteriori justified this interpretation when he wrote much later that monasticism 'is a subject I have at heart because I believe that we are returning in a state when on the supernatural plane only heroic prayer can save us and, when on the natural plane, the cloister offers a saner and more civilized life than the 'world'.' (39) William Boot chose a cloister likely to be wrecked by the 'world' and yet never even considered 'the supernatural plane'. Such a sentence clearly shows that it took Waugh, converted in 1930, almost ten years to pull down the world of Mayfair which he grew to hate and despise so much (40). His being exorcised shows through in the more heterogeneous technique of Scoop which reveals his newly recovered gusto and zest for life, and proves that he is about to turn to committed writing, and personally to discard for ever William's pusillanimity. Scoop illustrates the first line of Uncle Theodore's favourite song, 'Change and decay in all around I see,' but Waugh has already reached the second 'O Thou, who changest not, abide with me'. Whether his novels fared the better for his new commitment is, of course, a matter of opinion.
1. Decline and Fall, p. 185 and passim. Chapman and Hall, 1962 (Rev. ed.)
2. '... for five years she had been a legendary, almost ghostly name, the imprisoned princess of a fairy story', A Handful of Dust, p. 66. Chapman and Hall, 1964 (Rev. ed.)
3. Scoop, Preface to the Revised Edition. Chapman and Hall, 1964.
4. He can foretell and influence the course of events: 'We shall expect the first victory about the middle of July,' Scoop, p. 54.
5. 'He was a stranger in these parts he would readily, now, have doubled the sum to purchase his release,' Scoop, p. 20.
6. He takes refuge in a gentleman's lavatory where Julia relentlessly pursues him, pp. 50-51.
7. 'The carpets were thicker there, the lights softer, the expressions of the inhabitants more careworn etc. ' Scoop, pp. 52-53.
8. Scoop, p. 47.
9. Scoop, p. 129.
10. 'Uncle Theodore attempted to get in at the offside' (of the train) 'but was detected and deterred,' Scoop, p. 32.
11. 'Her normally mobile face encased in clay was rigid and menacing as an Aztec mask,' Scoop, p. 14.
12. 'a baby-car. tiny and glossy as a midget's funeral hearse,' p. 17.
13. Scoop, p. 18.
14. Scoop, pp. 22-23.
15. 'When Mrs. Stitch directed upon him' (Lord Copper) 'some of her piercing shafts, she found him first numb, then dazzled, then extravagantly receptive. Now for the first time he found himself riddled through and through, mesmerized, inebriated,' Scoop, p. 34.
16. Scoop, p. 22.
17. 'The sole stationary object was a chryselephantine effigy of Lord Copper in coronation robes, rising above the throng, on a polygonal malachite pedestal,' Scoop, p. 34.
18. Cf. p. 249, 250, 251: 'See Salter Sack Salter Shift Salter.'
19. Scoop, p. 80.
20. Scoop, p. 100.
21. Scoop, pp. 14-15.
22. 'In my delirium I thrust Auster on the flowers and into crystal-clear founts wild boars,' Bucolics, Book II, 11. 58-59; Scoop, p. 16.
23. 'Suddenly, miasmically, in the fiery wilderness, there came an apparition,' Scoop, p. 74.
24. Scoop, p. 82.
25. Scoop, p. 128.
26. If we tried a rather easy pun, William is punished for badgering a great crested grebe.
27. Let us remember the prevalent part played by the 'sixty per cent absinthe' in the unwinding of the political plot.
28. Scoop, p. 48.
29. For his dreams cf. in particular: 'William returned home with a mission; he was going to do down Benito etc. ' so antagonistic to his natural meekness, Scoop, p. 178.
30. 'Oh great crested grebe, maligned fowl, have I not expiated the wrong my sister did you was there not even in the remorseless dooms of antiquity a god from the machine,' Scoop, pp. 189-190.
31. Scoop, p. 190.
32. Baldwin 'laying a hand lightly on his I endeavour to requite the kindnesses I receive I am sure that in you I met an entirely disinterested benefactor,' pp.191-192.
33. Scoop p. 253.
34. Cf. the extensive use Dickens and other Victorian writers make of such conclusions in Hard Times, David Copperfield, etc.
35. If we believe the Preface, Scoop is only a 'light-hearted tale' in which the author celebrates his return to happiness by amusing himself.
35 bis. The war in Abyssinia, the Spanish Civil War, Colonisation, etc.
36. pp. 165, 166, 167 clearly demonstrate that William becomes her lover on the very night when the rains cease.
37. 'In the lanes around Boot Magna motor cycles travelled noisily home from the village whist drive; the smell of petrol hung about the hedges but inside the park everything was sweet and still the drive with its sharply defined ruts and hollows might have been a strip of the moon itself, a volcanic field cold since creation,' Scoop, p. 218.
38. 'Maternal rodents pilot their furry brood through the stubble,' extract from 'Lush Places.' 'Outside the owls hunted maternal rodents and their furry brood,' last sentence of Scoop, p. 254.
39. 'Kicking against the Goad.' Commonweal, 49 (1949), 534.
The Winter 1968 issue of EWN noted the appearance in a House of El Dieff catalog of a letter from Waugh to John Kobler which incorporated a brief essay called "Man the Exile," and quoted excerpts from it. After resting for some years in the hands of a private collector, the letter has recently been acquired by the Berg Collection of the New York Public Library, and it is now possible to satisfy the editors' four-year-old wish for "information as to (its) full content." (Credit must be given to the Henry W. and Albert A Berg Collection, The New York Public Library - Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations.)
On April 20, 1960, John Kobler, a contributing editor (Special Assignments) of the Saturday Evening Post spoke with Waugh, and the following day Waugh sent Kobler "some notes on our conversation of yesterday for the consideration of your colleagues in America." The notes are in fact - as the reference to St. Augustine's Confessions and the parenthetical "historical instances" suggest - a synopsis of a proposed article, presumably for the Post, possibly for the "Adventures of the Mind" series then appearing. The article apparently was not commissioned and remained unwritten. Waugh subsequently wrote to Kobler declining to "supply your Philadelphia colleagues with more synopses. As you remarked, it is not done in my country."
Waugh says in a postscript to "Man the Exile" that there is "nothing original" in the piece, "but it may be unfamiliar to some of your readers and I think I could expound it forcefully." The notion of fallen man in exile from Eden, living in a world whose civilization is blighted by the enduring effects of Original Sin (not to be confused with the existentialist's alienated man suffering from what Pinfold called "the fashionable agonies of angst") had received more or less contemporary expression by such writers as C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity and Herbert Butterfield in his Christianity and History. Nor would the rejection of the doctrine of Progress and the decline of art be ideas unfamiliar to Waugh's readers; but it is useful to have him state them here so straightforwardly:
"Publicists flatter their readers and hearers by telling them that they live in an unique age; that the achievements and dangers and changes of today are such as their ancestors never had to consider.
Examined in some detail this premise is false historically. The achievements of this age are negligible. To talk of 'the conquest of space' is as inane [as] to say that man has 'conquered' the sea when he has thrown a few pebbles in it. In things that matter most, such as the arts, there has been a slight regression, such as happens from time to time in the centuries of civilization.
In fact both in their individual lives and in society the man of today is faced with the same problems (in different terms) as confronted his ancestors.
But it is the art of the politician (aided by the publicist) to achieve power by persuading the world that its sorrows come from causes exterior to themselves e.g. Hitler told the Germans that Jews were the enemy. Nasser tells Egyptians they suffer because of Europeans. The Cubans believe they are oppressed by the Americans and so on. There is always an interested party to remove the load of guilt, which is the product of Adam's primordial sin, and put it on other shoulders.
The true situation is that the individual is an exile on earth. (See St. Augustine's Confessions) Individually each soul has his peace to make with his Creator. Socially the civilized word (world?) state - that is to say the Mediterranean world which has projected itself to Great Britain and through her to the United States - has been continuously threatened both from without and within (historical instances) sometimes, as today, by both at the same time.
Modern means of communication give a superficial emphasis (e.g. 'Refugee Year') to what has basically been and always will be the natural (and supernatural) condition of man as an exile from Eden."
"It was shortly before midnight in early March; I had been entertaining the college intellectuals to mulled claret; the fire was roaring, the air of my room heavy with smoke and spice, and my mind weary with metaphysics." So Charles Ryder describes the setting for his first meeting with Sebastian in Brideshead Revisited.
Ryder's mulled claret was served to a party of five. In 1950 - to turn to the subject of this note - Waugh's own recipe for "Mulled Claret (For Six Persons)" was printed in "As We Like It"; Cookery Recipes by Famous People, ed. Kenneth Downey (London, Arthur Barker Ltd.), a collection of recipes solicited from 200 well-known people and published for the benefit of The Returned Prisoners of War Association. In accordance with post-war "regulations, restrictions, and rations," contributors were asked to submit recipes that were "really simple and easy to follow" and to draw on ingredients currently available.
Apart from Waugh there were few creative writers among those replying; but there "were contributions from Aldous Huxley (Gnocchi di patate), Christopher Fry (Melon sweet), and a characteristically dismissive "Opinion on recipes" from the vegetarian G. Bernard Shaw.
For those who might wish to try Waugh's suggestion for a beverage "to be drunk during and after luncheon in February or after dinner on any winter evening," we reprint the recipe here:
Take 6 bottles of red wine (it would be improper to use really fine Bordeaux, but the better the wine, the better the concoction). Any sound claret or burgundy will do. One cupful of water; 2 port glasses of brandy; 1 port glass of ginger wine; 1 orange stuffed with cloves; peel of 2 lemons; 3 sticks of cinnamon; 1 grated nutmeg.
Heat in covered cauldron. Do not allow to simmer. Serve hot and keep hot on the hob. Should be drunk at same temperature as tea.
Robert Murray Davis, Paul A. Doyle, Heinz Kosok, Charles E. Linck, Jr., Evelyn Waugh: A Checklist of Primary and Secondary Material. Troy, New York 12181: Whitston Publishing Company, P.O. Box 322, 1972. $12.50. 211 pages. Reviewed by Winnifred M. Bogaards (University of New Brunswick).
The introductory claim of the compilers that this first comprehensive checklist of Waugh materials "not only reduces to order information currently available, but adds a good many items never before listed" is amply fulfilled. Many new entries appear, most notably among Waugh's juvenilia and his contributions to British periodicals; foreign translations and reviews of his books are also valuable additions. The only major omission is Waugh's correspondence (other than letters to the editor). Many letters have already been published or described and unless a separate edition of the correspondence is imminent, it would have been very useful at this time to include them in the Checklist, or at least to mention their exclusion in the introduction for the benefit particularly of the uninitiated.
While the over-all organization of the Checklist is admirable, the editors might have followed a more consistent policy in dealing with Waugh's confusing habit of publishing articles or parts of books many times, frequently under different titles and often lightly revised. Sometimes two identical articles with divergent titles are given a single entry (as item 352), sometimes two entries with an informative note (as 349b and 349c), and in other cases two entries with no indication of the duplication (as 346 and 348). Although such reprinted material contributed to books has been collected together, the same helpful sub-classification does not exist in the "Contributions to Periodicals" section. On the whole, however, the virtues of the Checklist far outweigh its few limitations.
The Evelyn Waugh Newsletter, designed to stimulate research and continue interest in the life and writings of Evelyn Waugh, is published three times a year in April, September, and December (Spring, Autumn, and Winter numbers). Subscription rate for libraries and interested individuals: $2.50 a year (£1.10p in England). Single copy 80 cents. Check or money orders should be made payable to the Evelyn Waugh Newsletter. Notes, brief essays, and news items about Waugh and his work may be submitted, but manuscripts cannot be returned unless accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed envelope. Address all correspondence to Dr. P.A. Doyle, c/o English Department, Nassau Community College, State University of New York, Garden City, New York 11530.
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|Associate Editors:||Alfred W. Borrello (Kingsborough Community College)|
|James F. Carens (Bucknell University)|
|Robert M. Davis (University of Oklahoma)|
|Heinz Kosok (University of Marburg)|
|Charles E. Linck, Jr. (East Texas State University)|