02 November 2009

In our tome, we report in some detail on the once-legendary Clubland guerrilla war between on-again, off-again friends Evelyn Waugh and Randolph Churchill. In order to avoid running into Churchill at White’s, Waugh frequently went to the St. James’ Club instead (which later merged with Brooks’s). Waugh wrote: “I have taken refuge here from White’s which has become uninhabitable since the budget — all the men who to my certain knowledge have not £100 in the world yelling themselves hoarse (and I think sincerely believing) that they are ruined and the dozen or so really rich men smoking quietly in corners having made themselves registered companies in Costa Rica years ago”.

The rest here.

When once Churchill asked Waugh what he thought of his father's biography of Marlborough, Waugh responded, "As history, it is beneath contempt, the special pleading of a defense lawyer. As literature it is worthless. It is written in a sham Augustan prose which could only have been achieved by a man who thought always in terms of public speech, and the antitheses clang like hammers in an arsenal."

Randolph retorted, "Have you ever noticed that it is always the people who are most religious who are most mean and cruel?"

To which Waugh responded, with some vigor, "But my dear Randolph, you have no idea what I should be like if I wasn’t."

And on a more familiar personage this side of the pond, Waugh's private correspondence to friend Tom Driburg on William F. Buckley's importunings to guest-column at the nascent National Review reveals his general attitude towards Americans:
Can you tell me: did you in your researches come across the name Wm F. Buckley, Jr., editor of a New York, neo-McCarthy magazine named National Review? He has been showing me great and unsought attention lately and your article made me curious. Has he been supernaturally "guided" to bore me? It would explain him.
On further solicitations from Mr. Buckley, Waugh responded, "Until you get much richer (which I hope will be soon) or I get much poorer (which I fear may be sooner) I am unable to accept." Apparently, Buckley got richer (or Waugh got poorer), and he eventually capitulated.

Another piece of Waugh-related trivia: If WF Buckley idolized Waugh, then Waugh (as so many other prominent British Catholic intellectuals of the time) idolized Hilaire Belloc.
0 comments

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home