Martin Potter has written a most thought-provoking book with this title, and the subtitle National and Religious Identity in the Work of David Jones, Evelyn Waugh and Muriel Spark. It is published by Peter Lang in their "Cultural Identity Studies" series (ISBN 978-3-0343-0860-1). His thesis is that these three writers develop a theory of British Catholic identity which emphasises harmony and transcends the potential conflict; which stresses harmonisation between disparate elements rather than conflict; an approach based upon a philosophy of integration.
I am not sure that this is the complete picture, at least as far as Waugh is concerned. I will give later some considerations which do indeed converge with Potter's approach; but I feel that we should also remember Waugh's profound personal dissociation from the British national enterprise in WW2 ... a dissociation which radically severs Waugh from the comfortable self-congratulatory narrative which pervaded this country towards the end of the War in and the years that followed. It is clear that Waugh does not share the view of his character Box-Bender who commends Cardinal Hinsley on the ground that he is an Englishman before he is a Catholic. And in Scott King Waugh opines that the War has become just a tug of war between two teams of indistinguishable louts. Waugh, like his characters, began the War seeing it as a crusade in defence of what, with Aidan Nichols, we will call Christendom; but he ended up condemning it as the Modern World in Arms. The cynicism with which he writes about The Sword of Stalingrad, surely, says it all, and must be seen as the reaction of a traditional Catholic who had been compelled to be personally complicit in the persecution by Tito's partisans of Royalists, Catholics, and Jews. This is not a man whose Catholic identity sets him comfortably in the national mainstream.
Continues on June 5.