Evelyn Waugh, the Critical Heritage

By Martin Stannard | Go to book overview
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‘When the Going was Good’




5 January 1947, 4

Thomas Sugrue (1907-53), American journalist and Catholic writer, was a reporter for the ‘New York Herald Tribune’, 1931-4, and author of ‘Such is the Kingdom’ (1940), ‘Starling of the White House’ (1946) and ‘A Catholic Speaks his Mind’ (1952). Sugrue also contributed book reviews to the ‘New York Times’ and the ‘Saturday Review of Literature’.

Between 1929 and 1935 Evelyn Waugh wrote four travel books detailing his peregrinations in the Mediterranean countries, Abyssinia, Zanzibar, British Guiana, and Brazil. From these volumes, now out of print, the author has selected what he considers worthy of re-issue, adding that ‘My own traveling days are over…. I rejoice that I went when the going was good.’ This latter opinion is a new one, brought on by the present state of the world, whereby a wanderer is more apt to be a displaced person or a melancholy soldier than a satirist on a holiday from the saturnalia which nourishes his art. While he was going Mr. Waugh thought he was having a manly and a rugged time.

The book, of course, is not about Abyssinia or Zanzibar or Brazil or Egypt or Palestine. It is about Mr. Waugh, who reveals himself as very much the kind of person he ridicules so effectively in his novels. Another satirist, in fact, might have found this Mr. Waugh an excellent subject, and since every writer is both the father and the son of his art that other satirist was Mr. Waugh himself. These pieces, reportorial, superficial, hiding with a shimmering


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