Evelyn Waugh

Evelyn Arthur St John Waugh was born on October 28, 1903. His father was a man of letters and managing director of the firm of Chapman & Hall, who published Dickens and later Waugh himself; his brother Alec was a popular novelist who had an early success de scandal with a novel of public-school homosexuality.

From this comfortable, bookish background, he went to Oxford and fell in with the set of aesthetes and dilettantes - Brian Howard, Harold Acton - that used routinely to be described as having been "immortalised by Brideshead" but seem to have outstayed their welcome somewhat in the English cultural imagination, and are more likely nowadays to be portrayed as a gang of infantile snobs and wasters. Waugh's prospects after going down being rather poor, he took to school teaching, and his experiences gave him enough material to write his first novel, Decline and Fall, which came out in 1928. "I was driven into writing because it was the only way a lazy and ill-educated man could make a living," he wrote with cut-glass cynicism in The Daily Mail in 1937, continuing "I am not complaining about the wages. They always seem to me disproportionately high. What I mind so much is the work."

Pray always for all the learned, the oblique, the delicate.
Let them not be quite forgotten at the throne of God
when the simple come into their kingdom.

Art is the symbol of the two noblest human efforts:
to construct and to refrain from destruction.

1 comment:

Greer said...

I really like both those quotes. Thank you, Stephanie.