The Diaries of Evelyn Waugh (Magill's Literary Annual 1978)
The Diaries of Evelyn Waugh is both as important and as formidable as the massiveness of the volume and the quality of its paper, printing, and binding would seem to proclaim. Scholars interested in modern British fiction and the social history of the twentieth century can only rejoice at the publication, in convenient book form, of the private journals of a lifetime by one of the greatest novelists of our age. The diaries are virtually complete in this edition by English journalist Michael Davie; except for the omission of a few tediously repetitious segments of the diarist’s accounts of his youth and later travels, the editor has excised only libelous references or references that would (in his judgment) deeply distress living persons. The published diaries are multifaceted and fascinating: there are intimate depictions of English public school life and of the “Bright Young People,” impressions of numerous journeys to exotic places, and a very unofficial view of World War II by a witty and perceptive observer. At the same time it must be added that the diaries do not make easy reading: the sheer length (estimated by the editor at 340,000 words) is forbidding, and it is not mitigated by the amorphousness inevitable in a running account of the random events of the day. Still, Waugh’s diaries, in spite of such defects, are far livelier than the fiction of many current novelists; and their indubitable potential in the interpretation and evaluation of...
(The entire section is 2477 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1978)
Atlantic. CCXL, December, 1977, p. 110.
Booklist. LXXIV, November 1, 1977, p. 453.
Kirkus Reviews. XLV, August 15, 1977, p. 918.
New York Times Book Review. October 16, 1977, p. 1.
Newsweek. XC, October 31, 1977, p. 102.
Saturday Review. V, November 12, 1977, p. 26.
Time. CX, October 17, 1977, p. 102.
(The entire section is 33 words.)