A Little Order (Magill's Literary Annual 1981)
As American literature came of age in the twentieth century, the United States produced a great number of major artists who captured the attention of most American readers of fiction. As a result, many English writers who might in an earlier age have interested the American reading public passed most of their careers unnoticed except for the occasional work which achieved some attention on this side of the Atlantic. One such writer is Evelyn Waugh, whose sixteen novels, assorted biographies and travel works, and collections of short stories passed in and out of print attracting little notice among Americans except for those few specially attuned to the state of the English literary scene. In fact, Waugh is best known in America primarily as the author of the novel The Loved One because it was used as the basis for the satiric movie of the same name, a movie remembered for its viciously black-humored attack on what Jessica Mitford called the American way of death.
Lately, however, Waugh has been undergoing a revival of interest in America not so much because of his fictional output but because of his distinctive personality. The recent publication of his Diaries (1976) and his Letters (1980) makes clear that what is now interesting about Waugh is not the work of a literary career but the occasional and private writings which, one...
(The entire section is 1386 words.)
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