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A Little Order: Selected Journalism (Penguin…
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A Little Order: Selected Journalism (Penguin Modern Classics)

by Evelyn Waugh

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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Whether celebrating Hogarth or savaging Hollywood, mocking modern manners or inviting readers to 'come inside' the Catholic Church, Evelyn Waugh was incapable of writing a dull sentence. Although he loved to play up to his image as an arch-reactionary, his defence of traditional English architecture, his contempt for party politics, modish Marxism and American-style religion contain as much good sense as bad temper. In this wonderful selection, he explores his Oxford youth, his unexpected conversion, his literary enthusiasms (from P. G. Wodehouse to Graham Greene) - and the perils of basing fictional characters on real people. Most journalism is instantly disposable; decades later, Waugh's retains its capacity to delight, to surprise and to shock. 'One of the most gifted writers this country has produced.' Nicholas Lezard, Guardian… (more)

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Thanks to such developments as Idi Amin and the Arab occupation of Britain, Waugh's views seem much less rabidly reactionary now, and in fact are being embraced by the liberals whom he once attacked. Moreover, his journalism is never dull-unlike his diaries, which he did not choose to publish-and the writing is a continual delight. For marksmanship, and elegance as well as economy of language, no one currently reviewing books even approaches the standard of the best in this too slender volume.

added by SnootyBaronet | editThe New York Review of Books, Robert Craft
 
The title comes from Matthew Arnold - 'to introduce a little order into this chaos' - and it is meant to chime neatly with the title of Waugh's volume of autobiography, A Little Learning. Waugh disclaimed scholarship and even termed himself 'ill-educated'. He was an unsystematic reader and he compensated for areas of unabashed ignorance with eccentric advocacies...

The selection of brief essays on fellow authors does not seem to argue a wide range of tastes, but we have to remember that this is journalism and not a systematized literary conspectus. Still - Saki, Belloc, Wodehouse, Galsworthy (whose style, strangely, he has no bad word for) are evidently the writers Waugh wanted to write about. And Max Beerbohm, of course. His condemnation of James Joyce's later experiments - on the grounds of their lack of 'lucidity' - is a lucid enough signal of an unworthy narrowness.
added by SnootyBaronet | editThe Times Literary Supplement, Anthony Burgess
 

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Vierne, BéatriceTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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