Monday, June 15, 2015

Evelyn Waugh's diaries

Evelyn Waugh

I like Evelyn Waugh's novels. Sword of Honor, a trilogy about World War 2, is one of my favorites. But no one but a specialist should bother reading The Diaries of Evelyn Waugh. Waugh himself would surely be shocked that it's been published at all. Most of the entries are about eating and drinking and who he was eating and drinking with. I read it because I knew I would be rewarded with nuggets like these:

Later: I meant to include this:

29 August 1943
...I have got so bored with everything military that I can no longer remember the simplest details. I dislike the Army. I  want to get to work again. I do not want any more experiences in life. I have quite enough bottled and carefully laid in the cellar, some still ripening, most ready for drinking, a little beginning to lose its body. I wrote to Frank[Pakenham] very early in the war to say that its chief use would be to cure artists of the illusion that they are men of action. It has worked its cure with me. I have succeeded, too, in dissociating myself very largely with the rest of the world. I am not impatient of its manifest follies and don't want to influence opinions or events, or to expose humbug or anything of that kind. I don't want to be of service to anyone or anything. I simply want to do my work as an artist.

Saturday 13 November 1943
...There is a great deal of talk at the moment about the rocket guns which the Germans are said to have set up in France, with a range to carry vast explosive charges to London. This fear is seriously entertained in the highest quarters. I have accordingly given orders for the books I have been keeping at the Hyde Park Hotel to be sent to Piers Court. At the same time I have advocated my son coming to London. It would seem from this that I prefer my books to my son. I can argue that firemen rescue children and destroy books, but the truth is that a child is easily replaced while a book destroyed is utterly lost; also a child is eternal; but most that I have a sense of absolute possession over my library and not over my nursery.

Monday 23 December 1946
The presence of my children affects me with deep weariness and depression. I do not see them until luncheon, as I have my breakfast alone in the library and they are in fact well trained to avoid my part of the house; but I am aware of them from the moment I wake. Luncheon is very painful. Teresa has a mincing habit of speech and a pert, humourless style of wit; Bron is clumsy and disheveled, sly, without intellectual, aesthetic or spiritual interest; Margaret is pretty and below the age of reason. In the nursery whooping cough rages I believe. At tea I meet the three elder children again and they ursurp the drawing-room until it is time to dress for dinner...

March 1964
Randolph Churchill went into hospital...to have a lung removed. It was announced that the trouble was not 'malignant'. Seeing Ed Stanley in White's, on my way to Rome, I remarked that it was a typical triumph of modern science to find the only part of Randolph that was not malignant and remove it...

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