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waugh and naipaul and boyd

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  • Jeffrey Manley
    In this week s TLS William Boyd (an admirer of Waugh) compares VS Naipaul s latest book on travels in Africa (A Masque of Africa) to Waugh s last travel book A
    Message 1 of 3 , Oct 6, 2010

      In this week's TLS William Boyd (an admirer of Waugh) compares VS Naipaul's latest book on travels in Africa (A Masque of Africa) to Waugh's last travel book A Tourist in Africa:

      "In her great poem “Questions of Travel”, Elizabeth Bishop outlines the quandary that all long-distance travellers put to themselves at some stage of their journey: “Should we have stayed at home and thought of here? . . . Is it right to be watching strangers in a play / in this strangest of theatres?” It’s a good question for an elderly novelist pondering a trip to Africa to revisit some of the places that inspired his earlier work. It’s one that Evelyn Waugh might have asked himself in 1959 as he set off for East Africa; one he might have reiterated as he wrote up his journey in what became A Tourist in Africa (1960) – a book that even the most fervent Waugh admirers consider his laziest and worst. "

      He also offers a rather sweeping comparison of the two writers' works:

      "it’s an interesting thought-experiment to look at the two writers’ careers and to consider V. S. Naipaul as a kind of Caribbean Waugh. Both were precocious schoolboys who won scholarships to Oxford. Waugh was a distinctively small man – so is Naipaul: both around five foot, six inches. Both took bad degrees and in the doldrums of their post-Oxford lives half-heartedly attempted suicide (Waugh by drowning, Naipaul by gassing). Their early novels were brilliantly original comic satires before the later work assumed more gravitas and the humour diminished. And in their personas, also, both men reinvented themselves in early middle age and took to wearing masks, masks that eventually “ate into the face”. In these masks they delighted in expressing outrageous, unfashionable, ultra-right-wing opinions and the more the metropolitan intelligentsia howled and railed at them the more gleeful they were. Both men, late in their lives, went to Africa to write a travel book.One of the obvious differences between them, however, is that Waugh saw his travel writing as hack-work – it paid well and it got him out of England in the winter. In Naipaul’s case it could be argued that “V. S. Naipaul” was in fact made by his serious reportage, more than his novels. "


      I haven't read much of Naipaul (despite having tried several times) but its seems unfair to say that Waugh's comic genius diminshed in his later works one of which would be The Loved One which is one of the finniest books he wrote.  And both the War Trilogy and Pinfold have their comic moments that exhibit more than a flicker of comedy. 

      Here's a link to the entire review which doesn't do much to further Naipaul's reputation: 

      http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/the_tls/article7167342.ece

      jeff
    • Antony F. P. Vickery
      The Evelyn Waugh Society has received the following query. If you can assist Mr. Moore, please reply to him at the e-mail address below. Please copy the list
      Message 2 of 3 , Oct 26, 2010
        The Evelyn Waugh Society has received the following query. If you can assist Mr. Moore, please reply to him at the e-mail address below. Please copy the list on your reply if you believe it will be of interest to subscribers.

        Antony F. P. Vickery

        I am editing the letters of the late American novelist William Gaddis for publication. In December 1948 he received a letter from Evelyn Waugh, which he probably replied to. Can anyone tell me where Waugh's archives are, and/or how to learn whether any Gaddis letters to him are extant? Gaddis--who was a great admirer of Waugh's work--also reports that in December 1948 an American friend of his named "Miss Parke" apparently visited Waugh and told him about Gaddis. Contact Steven Moore at mooresteven@...

      • Jeffrey Manley
        If any letter received from Gaddis to Waugh has survived it should be in the British Library:
        Message 3 of 3 , Oct 26, 2010
          If any letter received from Gaddis to Waugh has survived it should be in the British Library:

          http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/manuscripts/INDX0010.ASP?source=INDX0000.ASP

          At least that would be thr first place to look.  jeff


          To: evelyn_waugh@yahoogroups.com
          CC: mooresteven@...
          From: afpv@...
          Date: Tue, 26 Oct 2010 16:08:40 -0400
          Subject: [Evelyn_Waugh] Evelyn Waugh/William Gaddis letters

           
          The Evelyn Waugh Society has received the following query. If you can assist Mr. Moore, please reply to him at the e-mail address below. Please copy the list on your reply if you believe it will be of interest to subscribers.

          Antony F. P. Vickery

          I am editing the letters of the late American novelist William Gaddis for publication. In December 1948 he received a letter from Evelyn Waugh, which he probably replied to. Can anyone tell me where Waugh's archives are, and/or how to learn whether any Gaddis letters to him are extant? Gaddis--who was a great admirer of Waugh's work--also reports that in December 1948 an American friend of his named "Miss Parke" apparently visited Waugh and told him about Gaddis. Contact Steven Moore at mooresteven@...


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