Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Bewildering spectacle …

… D J Taylor - Author of Himself | Literary Review | Issue 460. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

In the essay on Waugh that he never lived to complete, Orwell marks this passage down as ‘an irrelevant outburst’, while noting its absolute centrality to the view Waugh held of the world. The hidebound fogeydom into which he lapsed is lavishly on display in A Little Learning. Waugh’s lapidary style and antiquated literary manners here would have made the work seem old-fashioned half a century before. The same air pervades the many interviews that John Howard Wilson and Barbara Cooke print as addenda. Although these include the famous Face to Faceinterrogation by John Freeman, perhaps the most revealing is a Frankly Speaking radio feature from 1953, in which serial teasing alternates with patently serious statements about ‘the man in the street’, the welfare state and Waugh’s Catholic faith. The most deeply felt response comes in the final exchange: ‘Mr Waugh, how, when you die, would you like to be remembered?’ ‘I should like people of their charity to pray for my soul as a sinner.’
Methinks I shall do as he asked.

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