I completely forgot that it was the 28th, so— here, Evelyn Waugh, have a hastily-scribbled birthday card! And consider it accompanied by my solemn promise to be extra-smarmy all day long.
I came to the conclusion many years ago that almost all crime is due to the repressed desire for aesthetic expression. - Evelyn Waugh (28 Oct 1903 – 10 Apr 1966)
As only a few abbreviated excerpts from his wife’s divorce petition indicate, Beauchamp’s disgraceful downfall was colossal: ‘THAT the Respondent is a man of perverted sexual practices, has committed acts of gross indecency with male servants and other male persons and has been guilty of sodomy. THAT throughout the married life …the Respondent habitually committed acts of gross indecency with certain of his male servants, masturbating them with his mouth and hands and compelling them to masturbate him…THAT from the month of May 1909 to the month of April 1912 in the Chauffeurs rooms at 13 Belgrave Mews, West, the Respondent frequently committed sodomy with the said Samuel John Scown…1924…Respondent committed sodomy with a man named Cook… 1927…Respondent committed sodomy with a man whose name is unknown to Your Petitioner…’
William Lygon, 7th Earl Beauchamp, center of the most scandalous divorce of 1931. With a wife who claimed not to know what homosexuality was until someone explained to her in detail her husband’s secret life, a son who wooed Evelyn Waugh to the other side of the rainbow and a pack of high-profile friends and lovers in British government, would you expect anything less than a great scandal? Perhaps most shocking of all was that the whole affair managed to be kept from the public for decades.
Anthony Andrew deserves an award for best puppy eyes in history of television, I swear.
Neat, adorable(?) picture of Simon as Bridey in Brideshead Revisited(1981)
Ah, Simon’s role is in the title!
Bridey is one of the characters Simon performed perfectly well.
Ingredients(?) of Bridey : Dr. Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory, the ‘big brother’ responsibility, etc.
style icon: two views of evelyn waugh.
there’s aging gracefully, and then there’s aging into what looks like a pig wearing a suit. like a satirical etching you’d see in an 1800s almanac.
While by no means do I dislike Mr Waugh’s aging, how can I but reblog.
Did you think I was lying about the Waughotopia on Level A of the library?
September is all about banned books here at PEN American. We reached out to writers, editors, literary illuminati, and PEN staff to write about the banned books that matter to them most. Today’s post comes from Jasmine Davey, Membership and Literary Awards Coordinator at PEN American.
“…I don’t believe Our Blessed Lady cares two hoots whether I put my gym shoes on the left or the right of my dancing shoes.”
—Cordelia Flyte in Brideshead Revisited
You could make a case for a kind of parallel between the events of Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited and the fact of it being challenged in Alabama schools for having a “gay protagonist.” With both, the best intentions lead to harm. Lady Marchmain only wants to help her son Sebastian. But clouded by principle, and piety, and tradition, she can’t seem to see what he needs and only increases his unhappiness and speeds his decline. The Alabama legislation that led to the Brideshead challenge was also meant to protect youth from harm and had its roots in principle, piety, and tradition.
It’s silly to point out the particulars of how wrongheaded it is to challengeBrideshead on these grounds. The author, after all, refers to homosexuality as “mortal sin.” Sebastian suffers for his sin—he can’t find happiness, he is alienated from himself and his family, and Kurt with his pus-filled foot is hardly attractive. Book banning is wrongheaded on principle and even if the idylls of Sebastian and Charles did not come to an end, if Sebastian did not suffer, it wouldn’t change a thing. In fact, in justifying a book by pointing out its themes and defending its virtues, one has in a sense gone over to the other side. Because this kind of reductionist thinking is what a novel, in its essence, works against. “The novel’s only morality, “ Milan Kundera writes, “is knowledge.” The knowledge of a novel is the knowledge of possibility—a possible vision of what human life can be and “where moral judgment is suspended.” A place where the particulars—strawberries and wine in the shade—count for everything.
Charles Ryder, a committed agnostic, undergoes a surprising conversion inBrideshead that’s founded in particulars, in an experiential truth. His love for Julia, in fact his intimacy with the whole Flyte family—Cordelia and her six black Cordelias in Africa, pious Bridey’s support for the conviviality of wine though can’t drink himself, Sebastian’s profound innocence and charm, little talks with Lady Marchmain, Lord Marchmain’s self-imposed exile and return, and the great beauty of their home at Brideshead—makes him in a moment (and maybe only for a moment) believe that “perhaps all our loves are only hints and symbols” of a much Greater Love.
But if, as a reader, you can’t believe this moment of conversion, if Waugh’s vision of religion founded in aesthetics and nostalgia doesn’t make sense, if Julia pales in comparison to her “forerunner,” if Celia’s Art & Fashion and Rex’s Politics & Money don’t “shrivel your bowels,” if something else seems to be bleeding through these pages and it’s not God, then this only shows the slipperiness of a novel’s truth—it’s morality of possibility uncurtailed by ideology—in that sometimes it can not even be contained by its maker.
Jasmine Davey studied English and French at the University of Vermont, where she won the Albee Award for Writing, 2000, and Eastern Washington University. She works as Membership and Literary Awards Coordinator at PEN American.
“Et in Arcadia Ego”
“Even in Arcadia I.” Even in Arcadia I am there, or under the shadow of death I am in merriment. Memento Mori. Remember your mortality ya’ll.
Remember this phrase from Brideshead? Well, now,we all know what it actually means! (Because I for one DID NOT) Don’t get me started about how understanding this phrase deepens the whole meaning of the book…
And yes, I got half of this information from the fact that I take Latin, but i also may have looked a tiny bit at wikipedia. I don’t care what anyone says, I love wikipedia.
1938 Pre Raphaelite Exhibition in Delaware
Not strictly on topic, but still.