Thursday, September 30, 2010

Readings: The Paris Review Interviews #2

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I chose, for some reason, to next read the interview with Evelyn Waugh. I suppose the fact that Waugh is so often cited by Catholics on blogs as being among their favorite "Catholic" novelists, was the impetus. The Waugh interview is extremely short. It is, in fact, so short that the interviewer, a person improbably named "Julian Jebb," is rather apologetic about it in his introduction.

Unfortunately, Waugh does not get into his Catholicism very much. Nor does he get very deeply into much of anything else. This being the case, I've decided upon the following quote, which is a response to the question, "Do you think it just to describe you as a reactionary?":

An artist must be a reactionary. He has to stand out against the tenor of the age and not go flopping along; he must offer some little opposition. Even the great Victorian artists were all anti-Victorian, despite the pressures to conform.

Of Americans Waugh had earlier opined, "I don't think what they have to say is of much interest, do you?" Just a bit after the central quote above, when asked why his novels contain so very few working class characters, Waugh replied, "I don't know them, and I'm not interested in them." Evelyn Waugh: Catholic to the bone.
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14 comments:

Mad said...

I wouldn't think that a disinterest in the working class was "Catholic," per se. Are you confusing his religious persuasion with his class persuasion. Perhaps Catholicism in England was less charitable then, but I would think the modern Church is probably TOO interested for many Fox News Catholic types.

Rodak said...

Contemporary American Catholics, having largely become one-trick ponies, voting for any rightwinger who will get up on his hind legs and say that he's "pro-life," are block voting for politicians who have the best interests only of the plutocrats in their agendas.
Even if they ARE working class, they vote against it.
I think that you are correct about the correlation between Catholicism and class in Waugh's England. But I am commenting here on the adulation given to Waugh by contemporary Catholic bloggers.
It is also a historical fact that the Church routinely backs fascists like Franco and dozens of others in Latin America against populist political movements. So,I stand by my observations.

Mad said...

I don't doubt that some Catholics may fit the description of your comments, but I think it would be overly broad to say that the overwhelming majority of Catholics are elitist Anglophiles (considering the number of NON-ANGLOS that make up the religious body - lol).

Just from an outside view, it seems that Catholicism is, well, universal enough, in that you run the gamut from the Pelosis and Cuomos on the liberal side to the Bill Donahues across the street.

You comments fit the Muslim community worldwide moreso than Catholics, who seem to have a rigorous moral and intellectual debate within their own religious faith about many issues (much like Israelis are more diverse in critiquing their own government than the popular stereotype lets on). While I'm sure there is diversity among some of the Muslim world, the extremists have the non-extremists pretty well cowered into a complacent non-debate.

But I don't make the rounds among the blogs like you do, so I can only go by the non-blogging rank and file I interact with.

Mad said...

Madscribe: Twitter and Facebook-free since the Vietnam War!

Mad said...

And no sooner than I state that I considered you to be a little harsh, reality opens the door and sticks its middle finger up at me (again)

http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/embezzlement-accusation-st-johns-university-queens-nyc

http://www.science20.com/cool-links/st_johns_university_dean_cecilia_chang_charged_using_grad_students_servants

What Waugh said, I guess ...

Mad said...

http://www.science20.com/cool-
links/st_johns_university_dean_
cecilia_chang_charged_using_grad_
students_servants

Rodak said...

Ah, well. That's anecdotal evidence, of course. Crooks come in all denominations.

Mad said...

On to other things. At the young, tender age of 40-something, I am about to finally wade into James Joyce's "Ulysses." Wish me well and leave the light on ...

Rodak said...

I read Ulysses exactly once, about 20 years after I first bought the book. It is a rewarding experience, if you can stick with it. Obviously, it isn't easy...

Mad said...

For the sake of this quote of Joyce's, which sums up my view of the human condition nicely, I'm willing to "stick it out" in going through "Ulysses":

"For myself, I always write about Dublin, because if I can get to the heart of Dublin I can get to the heart of all the cities of the world. In the particular is contained the universal."

Substitute "Dublin" for any place or people that your life has centered around, and you've pretty much summed it all up.

Rodak said...

Yes. That's a profound concept. It is shared, btw, with by my "patron Saint" Simone Weil, who stressed the value of place--particularly of city--in her world view.

Mad said...

On another note, speaking of Carl Jung and "Synchronicity"

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/8040204/Ground-Zero-mosque-likened-to-Supermans-HQ.html

http://www.startribune.com/nation/104212478.html?elr=KArks:DCiUMEaPc:UiacyKUUr

One goes up,
One goes down,

Fill in your own spiritual blanks (loL)

Mad said...

Also, I finally know how some of your generation's early Dylan fans felt when he went electric after hearing this "remake"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEwix-Zi0zw

Rodak said...

That looks like some o'that 'instant karma' the man was singin' about, back in the day, to me...