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Introduction and question

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  • jlawest
    Hello All, Thank-you for the priviledge and pleasure of joining your group. I read most of Waugh s novels for the first time this past summer. I am now
    Message 1 of 3 , Oct 5, 2006
      Hello All,

      Thank-you for the priviledge and pleasure of joining your group. I
      read most of Waugh's novels for the first time this past summer. I
      am now making my first attempt at a critical study of his work,
      namely David Wykes "Evelyn Waugh" in the Literary Lives series. I
      find myself perplexed by his judgement, apparently shared by other
      Waugh scholars, that the early comedies are superior literary works
      to the later explicitly Catholic novels, i.e. Brideshead, Helena and
      Sword of Honour. The only rationale I seem to find for this judgement
      is that these later works aren't as merry-making as the earlier ones,
      but I don't suppose Waugh intended them to be. It seems to me that
      Brideshead is indeed the magnum opus Waugh saw it as, though I know
      he seems to be less enthusiastic in some comments later on in life.

      Please allow me to point out, as an excuse for the above, that I am
      not a literary scholar, but a philosopher. Accordingly, I claim no
      authority for my thoughts beyond my own, potentially questionable,
      taste. In any case, I would welcome any thoughts on this or, even
      better, suggestions of scholarly works that have treated the
      religious dimension in his work with a greater degree of
      understanding if not sympathy.

      Sincerely,

      J.L.A. West
    • dave matheny
      I find myself perplexed by his judgement, apparently shared by other Waugh scholars, that the early comedies are superior literary works to the later
      Message 2 of 3 , Oct 5, 2006
        I
        find myself perplexed by his judgement, apparently shared by other
        Waugh scholars, that the early comedies are superior literary works
        to the later explicitly Catholic novels, i.e. Brideshead, Helena and
        Sword of Honour. The only rationale I seem to find for this judgement
        is that these later works aren't as merry-making as the earlier ones,
        but I don't suppose Waugh intended them to be. It seems to me that
        Brideshead is indeed the magnum opus Waugh saw it as, though I know
        he seems to be less enthusiastic in some comments later on in life.
        ............................................

        I'm not a critic either, but then critics must not be very intelligent. They nearly
        universally give the "greatest novel" title to the unreadable "Ulysses." (I
        understand that in England the general reading public disobediently gives the
        greatest-novel rank to "The Lord of the Rings." The usual literary suspects are
        always appalled at this result, and demand a new survey every few years, only to have
        their hopes dashed again. When will the proles ever learn what's best for them?)

        I like the earlier Waugh novels, the comic ones, better than the later novels,
        although I like them all. The later ones may be better literature, but I go back to
        the earlier ones more often.

        --Dave Matheny
      • alumni_newsletter
        Hello, With regards to this comment: I find myself perplexed by his judgement, apparently shared by other Waugh scholars, that the early comedies are superior
        Message 3 of 3 , Oct 6, 2006
          Hello,

          With regards to this comment:
          "I find myself perplexed by his judgement, apparently shared by other
          Waugh scholars, that the early comedies are superior literary works
          to the later explicitly Catholic novels, i.e. Brideshead, Helena and
          Sword of Honour. The only rationale I seem to find for this judgement
          is that these later works aren't as merry-making as the earlier ones,
          but I don't suppose Waugh intended them to be. "

          I don't think the critical preference for the early books comes down to a matter of 'merry-
          making' versus explicit Catholicism. Brideshead certainly is a magnum opus, in the sense
          that it is the perfection of the realist form. But it's not a magnum opus in terms of
          innovation. Waugh's early books (which, I admit, I also prefer) are flawed, but they are
          innovative; they are a strange breed of modernism. I think it is this difference that
          accounts for the scholarly prejudice in favour of the early novels. In part this is a matter of
          critical fashion--'experiments' can be so much more appealing than traditions. As
          someone who pretends to 'Waugh scholarship,' at least, I find this to be the case.

          I've been on this list for a while, but this is my first (somewhat inflammatory) post.
          Enjoying everything so far!

          --Marybeth
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