So, in today's news, we have, pretty high up, the information that some North American journal called Time Magazine is under the impression that Evelyn Waugh was a woman novelist!!
Is this faux 'mistake' intended as some sort of cheap retaliation for his The Loved One, which must be just about the funniest satirical demolition of North American culture, language, art, architecture, politics, literature, sentimentality, gullibility, sexuality, loquacity and self-importance since (Sir) Max Beerbohm created the character of Oover in Zuleika Dobson?
OK, we are a sadly pathetic little country, full of whinging has-beens. Quis ausit negare? But North Americans should realise that the truth of this analysis makes us resent it all the more when in their frank and open generosity they point it out to us. So I will toss back at them just one single offensive word, heavy with ridicule:
26 February 2016
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I greatly doubt that anyone at Time Magazine has ever read Waugh.
You are far too kind to refer to it as a journal. It is the equivalent of toilet paper.
Touché, Father! While some [minuscule] excuse could be allowed in this instance, my pet peeve over here is people’s inability to correctly pronounce ‘nuclear’…
When even presidents mispronounce it as ‘nucular’, things have gotten pretty bad in these parts. It grates upon the ear - much like nails on blackboards.
That hurts, Father. Really. I must now go have a cry, excuse me.
It could have been worse. They could have referred to him as Arthur Waugh. That would've been worse, wouldn't have?
I'm enjoying the comments. Yes, the repeated mispronunciation of 'nuclear' is particularly aggravating! If it's any comfort to you, this American knows Evelyn was a man. You've made me want to read that work of his.
Kind regards from Mary Jones
Dear Fr. Hunwicke,
Once again I have to offer Napoleon's maxim: "Never assume malice in what can be adequately explained by incompetence." It appears to be the case that the American in question was acting out of an abundance of ignorance, rather than any wish to wound. It also appears that many of my countrymen dwell in the same condition.
I, on the other hand, have read The Loved One and found it both uproariously funny, but also, alas, quite accurate as to the faults of most Yanks. On the basis of your recommendation, however, I will endeavour to continue to minimize my own ignorance by reading Zuleika Dobson, which tome I have somehow managed to overlook until now. I offer you both my regards, and my continued thanks for your good weblog.
Very truly yours,
P.S. It is unfortunate that you had to bring up the "O" word. I have been doing my best so far to avoid thinking of it, and him.
The film version of The Loved One, 1960 something, with John Gielgud, Margaret Leighton, Robert Morse et al was the first movie made for adults that I remember watching as a child. The editorial staff at Time then certainly knew Evelyn Waugh, however debased the current magazine may be.
Ah well...here in the cold North we have Trudeau..."and a little child shall lead them"...the worst is yet to come and it isn't from America.
"Yes, the repeated mispronunciation of 'nuclear' is particularly aggravating!"
The misuse of "aggravating" is quite annoying too.
What would they have Hilaire Belloc to be?
Quoted in Christopher Sykes's biography of Waugh:
Interviewer: Have you found any professional criticism of your work illuminating or helpful? Edmund Wilson, for example?
Waugh: Is he an American?
Waugh: I don't think what they have to say is of much interest, do you?
Yes, 'The Loved One' is a marvellously sharp study of the mores of L.A., its empty screen-fed superstition, bowdlerisation of death and the solipsistic, childless craze for pet animals.
But Waugh also makes a biting study of the effect of Hollywood and California in general on certain kinds of English expat. The smug, snobbish, ageing Anglo thesp and his materialistic conviction of superiority; and the younger rootless English type and his utterly amoral opportunism: these, for me, are by far the most uncomfortable bits of the book.
Thank you, John, I liked that. Perhaps Waugh's comment on the English characters is the more uncomfortable because of the one-dimensional restraint with which that hatchet job is done, while the American half of the scene is a rich riot. Rather like setting chaste Florentine disegno up against undisciplined Venetian coloratura.
I think one could Trump that ass.
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