Academic journal article Evelyn Waugh Newsletter and Studies

The Forest for the Trees: The Complete Works of Evelyn Waugh: Essays, Articles, and Reviews, 1922-1934

Academic journal article Evelyn Waugh Newsletter and Studies

The Forest for the Trees: The Complete Works of Evelyn Waugh: Essays, Articles, and Reviews, 1922-1934

Article excerpt

The Complete Works of Evelyn Waugh: Essays, Articles, and Reviews, 1922-1934. Edited by Donat Gallagher, vol. 26, Oxford UP, 2018. 640 pp. $135.

Like most people who attempt to do serious research on Evelyn Waugh, I come to any new work by Donat Gallaher with the realization that he knows a lot that I don't, and in my case that a good deal of what I do know has been learned from his work over at least five decades. Back in the seventies, when Don and I worked side by side on the materials at the HRC (then the Humanities Research Center, now the Harry Ransom Center), he proposed a division of labor in which he would concentrate on the non-fiction, leaving the fiction to me.

This did not have the far-reaching consequences of the division of the Americas, or what was then known about them at the end of the fifteenth century, or the Waugh brothers' agreement not to infringe on each other's material for travel books, but still, I thought that offer was incredibly generous of him. Looking back from Volume 26 of the Complete Works of Evelyn Waugh: Essays, Articles, and Reviews 1922-1934, I can begin to understand the wisdom of his proposal and to appreciate the full value of his contribution to Waugh studies.

On the purely practical level, this book allows scholars to recycle photocopies of material that publishers could not fit into Gallagher's earlier collections, Evelyn Waugh: A Little Order (1980) and The Essays, Articles and Reviews of Evelyn Waugh (1983). In broader terms, Gallagher seems to have tracked down and included not only fugitive work from some very dusty files but also work that never saw print Waugh's lifetime.

A good example is "To an Unknown Old Man," the script of a talk on the BBC that characterizes a youth who must at times "feel he is not wanted" and who suffers from "maladies of the mind and spirit" at least as deleterious as the physical effects of unemployment. The talk was broadcast in 1932 and clearly anticipates the plight of John Beaver in A Handful of Dust for whom "nobody had been able to find anything [...] to do." This instance is noteworthy because it is one of the few in which Gallagher does not point out correspondences with other work by Waugh which will provide scholars with topic sentences for future articles.

In immediate practical terms, Gallagher offers elaborate but consistently applied principles for organizing Waugh's material. His Introduction provides contexts for the material published in the twelve years covered in this volume but goes on to characterize the focus and style of Waugh's nonfiction writing between 1934 and his death in 1966. Within the chronological boundaries of the volume, Gallagher divides the material into four sections and provides an introduction for each. …

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