Evelyn Waugh: A Biography
ISBN : 9780395718216
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Evelyn Waugh: A Biography
Product DescriptionAuthorized by the English novelist's family, and drawing on his personal papers, letters, and diaries, this biography follows the author ofBrideshead Revisitedthrough his education at Oxford, his literary acclaim, and his conversion to Catholicism.From Publishers WeeklyEnglish biographer Hastings (Nancy Mitford) understands exactly the nature of her task, proclaiming at the start of this massive, elegantly written and exhaustively researched biography that her subject's reputation rests on two premises?"that he was one of the great prose stylists of the 20th century, and that as a man he was a monster." She was given unrestricted access to letters and diaries (many of them unpublished) and has come up with a study that is respectful of Waugh's accomplishments though perhaps excessively forgiving of his preposterous behavior toward friends, family and the world at large. Waugh (1903-1966) was a bullying, choleric man who frequently drank himself into oblivion, but whose wildly satiric humor endeared him to the smart set at Oxford and later in London and became the basis of the series of brilliant novels, written in the '20s and '30s, portraying that world. He was an unapologetic snob who genuinely believed that Britain's landed gentry were a superior race; who despised children (including most of his own), the lower classes, foreigners and modern life in general; and who was a passionate convert to the reactionary extremes of Roman Catholicism. (Nancy Mitford asked him how he reconciled "being so horrible with being a Christian." Waugh replied that he would be "even more horrible" except for his faith?"and anyway would have committed suicide years ago.") He hated Americans, and when Brideshead Revisited, the work for which he is probably best known, was a success in the U.S., he wrote: "I thought it in good taste before but now know it can't be." The entertainment value of Waugh's highly eccentric life, as of much of his work, is high, and Hastings has given the most detailed and graceful account of both yet to appear. Photos.Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.From Library JournalSulking over his children's impertinence, Waugh wrote, "Thank God Christmas is over. I prefer Ash Wednesday." He also referred to an early Oxford homosexual partner as "the friend of my heart." Both statements are quintessential Waugh: writer, traveler, sometimes alcoholic, fevered Catholic convert, satirist, military man, snob, husband, father, and eccentric romantic. Hastings, acclaimed for her Nancy Mitford: A Biography (Dutton, 1986), covers all the above and more, including Waugh's turbulent relationships with his father and brother, his two wives, Cyril Connolly, Diana Cooper, Randolph Churchill, and Mitford. Hastings brilliantly evokes Waugh's reverence for British aristocracy and English Catholicism as Waugh did in his great novel Brideshead Revisited. Many of the Brideshead characters are partial portraits of the people in Waugh's personal life, including himself: a self-portrait in the persona of the character Charles Ryder. In the autobiographical A Little Learning (1964), Waugh wrote, "At Oxford I was reborn in full youth." Hastings has achieved yet another rebirth for Waugh, this time a full memorial. Highly recommended for serious readers.?Robert L. Kelly, Fort Wayne Community Schs., Ind.Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.From BooklistHastings' portrait reveals Waugh as a man with "spirit and eccentric humor" whose "streak of cruelty" was much in evidence throughout his life. His satirical wit, so delicious inDecline and Fall,Vile Bodies, andBrideshead Revisited, did not play as well in his personal life and affairs. Fawned over by his mother, ignored by his father, who preferred older brother Alec, Waugh was "a world-weary cynic even as a child." Raised in London, he was a little bully in school, tormenting others, including a delicate Cecil Beaton. Hastings makes m
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|Publisher||Houghton Mifflin Harcourt|
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