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Evelyn Waugh "Decline and Fall"

Evelyn Waugh "Decline and Fall"

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Published by Julia Festa

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Published by: Julia Festa on Sep 16, 2009
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12/13/2012

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МОСКОВСКИЙ ГОСУДАРСТВЕННЫЙ ЛИНГВИСТИЧЕСКИЙУНИВЕРСИТЕТ
МЕТОДИЧЕСКИЕ ЗАДАНИЯ ПО РОМАНУ И. ВО «УПАДОК ИРАЗРУШЕНИЕ»(для студентов II курса факультета заочного отделения)
Москва 2005
 
EVELYN WAUGH (1903-1966)
Evelyn Arthur St. John Waugh was born in the London suburb of Hampsteadin 1903, the son of Arthur Waugh, a prominent man of letters and one of thedirectors of the puplishing firm of Chapman and Hall. Among Evelyn’s ancestorswere clergymen, doctors, and lawyers; his great-great-grandfather was one of the best-known Nonconformist ministers of his time, while his great-grandfather was aclergyman in the Church of England. Arthur Waugh was a church-going Anglican,and Evelyn’s own early bent was religious. For a time he thought of becoming a parson. His father sent him to Lancing School, an institution with decided Anglicanassociations.Ironically, in such atmosphere, Waugh lost his faith. In June of 1921 hewrote in his diary: “In the last few weeks I have ceased to be a Christian. I haverealized that for the last few terms I have been an atheist in all except the courageto admit it myself.” Primary factors in this development were reading materialsthat encouraged disbelief and the influence of a particularly appealing teacher, later to become an Anglican bishop, who presented his pupils with challengingquestions about Christ and religion and allowed the boys to present their owntheories and speculations without helping them to resolve doubts and confusions:“We were encouraged to ‘think for ourselves’ and our thoughts in most casesturned to negetions.” Waugh’s atheism gave him no consolation; he records thatduring this period his diary was full of pagan gloom and the consideration of suicide.”From Lancing School Waugh went to Hertford College, Oxford. There hestudied in a rather desultory fashion, wrote for the college magazines, and, ingeneral, greatly enjoyed the abundant social life. Waugh gives the impression thathe did not take much interest in scholastic matters and that his years at Oxfordwere those of a playboy. Considering some of the comments about his pre-collegeand college days, one notices that he read very widely in his father’s well-stockedlibrary and that his classical training was more potent and pervasive than hefrequently cared to admit. In some matters Waugh’s non-fictional pronouncements
 
must be accepted with a grain of salt. For example, Waugh liked to pretend that hehad dashed off his novels in a rather off-the-cuff fashion. He generally posed as agentlement dilettante who had “little learning” and regarded his own writingcasually. In fact much thought, care, and artistry went in the production of hisfiction.When it was determined that Waugh’s primary vocational interest was painting, he left Oxford without taking degree and entered an art school in London.But Waugh discovered that his ability in this area was limited so he quit theacademy and for a time became a schoolmaster. A career in journalism followedhis stint as a teacher and Waugh also bagan to write books.In 1928 Waugh married Evelyn Gardner, the daughter of Lord Burghclere.The marriage lasted only a short time during which Evelyn was idyllically happy.While he was away for three weeks working on his second novel,
Vile
 
 Bodies
, hiswife became involved with another man. Evelyn was crushed by his wife infidelityand at this point remarked to his brother Alec, “The trouble about the world todayis that there’s not enough religion in it.”In 1930 Waugh became a Roman Catholic; without a doubt thedisillusionment of his first marriage was a basic factor in his conversion. Fiveyears previously, in atheistic despair, Waugh had attempted suicide. The world ashe had experienced it and the break-up of his marriage convinced him, in his ownwords, that his existence “was unintelligible and unendurable without God.”From 1930 on, Waugh’s life was for many years devoted to travelling andwriting, and a series of novels and travel books came from his pen. His literaryreputation increased in stature. In 1937 he married Laura Herbert, the youngestdaughter of the Honorable Aubrey Herbert, M.P. Laura Herbert’s family wasstaunchly Roman Catholic, and this marital union together with his religion profession gave stability and full meaning to his life. Waugh’s literary cereer continued although he did not reach wide popular audience appeal, particularly inthe United States, until the publication of 
 Brideshead 
 
 Revisited 
(1945) and
The Loved 
 
One
(1948).

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