Evelyn Waugh | Critical Essay by Barry Ulanov

This literature criticism consists of approximately 18 pages of analysis & critique of Evelyn Waugh.
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Critical Essay by Barry Ulanov

SOURCE: "The Ordeal of Evelyn Waugh," in The Vision Obscured: Perceptions of Some Twentieth-Century Catholic Novelists, edited by Melvin J. Friedman, New York: Fordham University Press, 1970, pp. 79-93.

Ulanov is an American writer, educator, and editor. In the following essay, he analyzes the "underlying structure" of the world-view that infused Waugh's novels and gave meaning to his allegorical writings.

It is all but a fixed convention in the critical presentation of the work of Evelyn Waugh to date his decline, in mid-career, with the appearance of Brideshead Revisited in 1945. The novels written before it are comic masterpieces. Those that come after, with the possible exception of The Loved One (1948), are blighted by the disease of Brideshead, an egregious inclination to take religion seriously, accompanied by a marked distaste for the world that does not share that inclination—the modern world.

Waugh was immediately taken to task, on the appearance of Brideshead Revisited, for his shocking display of religious sentiment and his apparent loss of the satiric spirit. He answered his American critics as publicly as he could in the pages of a journal not generally thought of as literary—Life magazine. Modern novelists, Waugh explained,

try to represent the whole human mind and soul and yet omit its determining character—that of being God's creature with a defined purpose. So in my future books there will be two things to make them unpopular: a preoccupation with style and the attempt to represent man more fully, which to me means only one thing, man in his relation to God.

The work that followed Brideshead Revisited, two years later, was a corrosive political satire, a novella called Scott-King's Modern Europe. It is the tale of the misadventures of the Classical Master of a second-rate English public school in Neutralia. He has been invited to this "typical modern state, governed by a single party, acclaiming a dominant Marshal, supporting a vast ill-paid bureaucracy whose work is tempered and humanised by corruption," because of his celebration in an essay in a learned journal of the qualities of Neutralia's Latin poet Bellorius. Bellorius is about to suffer—along with Scott-King and the reader—the tercentenary of his death. With the heaviest possible irony, Waugh describes his narrative as "the story of a summer holiday; a light tale." It is not a light tale; it is a ponderous satire which brings Scott-King back to his public school by way of "No. 64, Jewish Illicit Immigrants' Camp, Palestine." The headmaster suggests that Scott-King think about teaching another subject alongside Classics—"History, for example, preferably economic history." After all, parents no longer send their boys to school to become "'the complete man.'… They want to qualify their boys for jobs in the modern world. You can hardly blame them, can you?" Scott-King's answer is direct: "Oh yes," he says. "I can and do." The last bits of dialogue permit Scott-King to put the modern world in its place.

"But, you know, there may be something of a crisis ahead."

"Yes, headmaster."

"Then what do you intend to do?"

"If you approve, headmaster, I will stay as I am here as long as any boy wants to read the classics. I think it would be very wicked indeed to do anything to fit a boy for the modern world."

"It's a short-sighted view, Scott-King."

"There, headmaster, with all respect, I differ from you profoundly. I think it the most long-sighted view it is possible to take."

Waugh did not need the cumbersome apparatus of Scott-King's Modern Europe to make clear his disenchantment with the modern world. Nor did he need the pages of Life magazine to make public pronouncements about his "preoccupation" with style and the relation of man to God. He had been making such pronouncements for almost two decades before Brideshead Revisited, but obliquely, in variously light and heavy explorations of the allegory of irony. Waugh was not finished with allegorical devices, nor did he relinquish the ironic pose after Brideshead; but the indirections of satire were no longer all. It was as though his presentation of "The Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder" had evoked in him the spirit of the confessional. Like the most unconscious character in Chekhov, he seemed determined now to reveal his working purposes. In some curious way, his two creeds, as writer and as Christian, would be made to coincide. In The Loved One, he mocked the happy hunting-grounds of the American ways of death, human and animal, which sought certainties where none were to be found. In Helena (1950), he praised the simple faith of the woman who was canonized by tradition for her perseverance in seeking the wood of the True Cross, a woman of a time "Once, very long ago, before ever the flowers were named," the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine, and, in Waugh's version of sacred history, a Briton and the daughter of Old King Coel.

In-between the clammy humors of California Gothic and the dry atmosphere of Celtic-Roman hagiology, Waugh followed the confessional urge where it led—to the opening pages of a collection of stories of conversion to Catholicism by well-known figures of the late 1940s. Waugh's piece was called "Come Inside." In five short pages he moved across the bare facts of his religious life, from beginnings in the Church of England and a "family tree" which "burgeons on every twig with Anglican clergymen," and an early intention of becoming a clergyman himself:

The enthusiasm which my little school-fellows devoted to birds' eggs and model trains I turned to church affairs and spoke glibly of chasubles and Erastianism. I was accordingly sent to the school which was reputed to have the strongest ecclesiastical bent. At the age of sixteen I formally notified the school chaplain that there was no God. At the age of twenty-six I was received into the Catholic Church to which all subsequent experience has served to confirm my loyalty.

Waugh's little piece is savage in its rejection of his own attempts to deal with the brambles of the higher criticism, as uncovered by a skeptical Oxford theologian ("now a bishop"), and the thickets of metaphysics, as presented in Pope's Essay on Man and in Leibniz, to whom he was sent by the notes in his edition of Pope.

I advanced far enough to be thoroughly muddled about the nature of cognition. It seemed simplest to abandon the quest and assume that man was incapable of knowing anything. I have no doubt I was a prig and a bore but I think that if I had been a Catholic boy at a Catholic school I should have found among its teaching orders someone patient enough to examine with me my callow presumption. Also, if I had been fortified by the sacraments, I should have valued my faith too highly to abandon it so capriciously.

What Waugh found in the Church was tradition, the Catholic structure omnipresent in European life, customs, ceremonies, and disciplines of learning. Americans may lack this; their world certainly does. Europe in general and England in particular may not look upon the Church as simply one of a series of splendid sects. The Church underlies everything in Waugh's world. It is his inheritance. After being admitted into the Church, he tells us in carefully weighed words, his "life has been an endless delighted tour of discovery in the huge territory of which I was made free." What he does not tell us in this 1949 piece, but does confess in the novels, the stories, the occasional pieces, the columns of liturgical controversy—in nearly everything that followed upon it—is that more and more he became a furious partisan, fighting for the survival of ancient values, ancient worlds, ancient rituals. He moved with sour obstinacy against the new liturgy produced by the Second Vatican Council. He was made sick with something like shame by the translation of the words of the Mass into the English vernacular. In this vulgate tongue, they clearly lacked unction. They were not in the ancient style. They were not in any style that he could respect. They lacked that universality and coherence that made the terrors of modernity, if not tolerable, at least endurable as a preface to a world of endless grace. He had extended his invitation to the non-Catholic to follow him inside the Church:

You cannot know what the Church is like from outside. However learned you are in theology, nothing you know amounts to anything in comparison with the knowledge of the simplest actual member of the Communion of Saints.

Could one still believe this, still feel this, after the depredations of Vatican II?

Waugh mocks the "shallowness" of his "early piety," clearly demonstrated "by the ease with which I abandoned it." To his interest in "chasubles and Erastianism" he attributes a depth comparable to the devotion to birds' eggs and model trains of his contemporaries at school. But there is something quite different in kind about his penchant, at the age of eleven, for Anglican churchmanship, the intense curiosity he describes in his autobiography: "about church decorations and the degrees of anglicanism—'Prot, Mod, High, Spiky'—which they represented" [A Little Learning]. The pursuit of grace at eleven may have been confined to a shrine he constructed for the night-nursery, complete with plaster saints, an art nouveau edition of Newman's Dream of Gerontius, and his own attempt at the subject of Newman's long poem, Purgatory—an effort "in the metre of Hiawatha" which he calls "long and tedious" in one place, "deplorable" in another. But it was grace he pursued, tediously perhaps, certainly at length. The comings and goings of his faith, now Anglican, now atheist, finally Roman, were surely never as inconsequential to him or for him as his ironic autobiographical narratives suggest. He was always a ceremonialist, always caught up in some ritual or other, as feckless student and schoolmaster, or as despairing socialite. It is ritual that fascinates him in his several worlds, even when it is altogether fatuous. It is ritual he gathers so entertainingly into his early satires. When the satire wears thin and the end in view ceases to be entertainment, the ritual remains. Only now it is no longer quite so fatuous. There is faith in it. The pursuit of grace has become, like the explorations of the allegory of irony, far less oblique.

If one sees the pursuit of grace in the work of Evelyn Waugh, sees it in the inverted and perverted rituals of Decline and Fall (1928), Vile Bodies (1930), Black Mischief (1932), Scoop (1938), and Put Out More Flags (1942) as much as in the open courtings of the supernatural in Brideshead Revisited, Helena, and Sword of Honour, one is not so easily put off or surprised by the sentimentality of the later work. One sees Waugh constantly soliciting a deeper coherence than the ceremonies of the social life or the customs of international politics are likely to reveal. One sees Waugh's meticulous notation of custom and ceremony as being in the service of grace, and not at all lacking in meaning because it deals with people who have little or no meaning and are determined to do everything to escape meaning. One sees Waugh's narratives, from the beginning, as severely moralized—though not (in the beginning at least) very clear in their moral purpose. One sees an allegorist sharpening his instruments, perfecting his ironic moral tone, so that when the pursuit of grace can be made more open, when grace can emerge from the chilling shadows of a world that holds it in contempt, there will be a machinery skillful enough to deal with it and to make it recognizable.

Nowhere is this honing of the tools so evident as in A Handful of Dust (1934). There all that Waugh had learned in his early tales of the rituals of the fatuous is displayed with an ironic detachment that can easily be interpreted as with-drawal from the moral lists—or worse, as accidie. The world of the aristocracy has collapsed. Tony Last—a name at least as roundly allegorical in intent as any in the novels of Henry Fielding—brings that world to its inexorable end, condemned to spend his final days—and they are clearly to be many—reading Dickens aloud to a madman in a South American jungle. While this allegory of attrition is worked out, Tony Last's wife, Brenda, works out her salvation in the service of a personification of nullity, John Beaver, whose name spells nothing but an industrious boredom. The book takes its title from The Waste Land, and perhaps some of its hauteur as well. But where Eliot communicates his distaste for the modern world in fragments, Waugh polishes his periods in an elegantly sustained continuity, with every detail fitted firmly into place. Disaster leads to disaster in an orderly succession of horrors which everybody can accept, for the disasters and horrors follow so faithfully the ordinations of high society and never lose the approved tones. Thus the ironic echoes of Proust in two chapter titles: "Du Côté de Chez Beaver" and "Du Côté de Chez Todd"—memorializing in these cases no elegant or gifted men, but a middle-class bore and an illiterate son of a missionary with a savage devotion to the works of Charles Dickens.

The part played by Dickens in the allegorical structure of A Handful of Dust is particularly engaging to the reader of Waugh who has gone so far as to search out his occasional reviews. In 1953, examining Edgar Johnson's two-volume biography of Dickens for The Spectator, he confesses that

We all have our moods when Dickens sickens us. In a lighter, looser and perhaps higher mood we fall victim to his "magnetism."… It is this constantly changing mood of appreciation that makes everyone's fingers itch for the pen at the mention of his name.

Waugh gratified the itch in this review in such a way that one understands perfectly the particular irony of Todd's fixation upon Dickens:

—the pity of it—the more we know of Dickens, the less we like him. His conduct to his wife and particularly his announcement of the separation were deplorable. His treatment in middle age of Maria Beadnell was even worse. His benefactions to his family were grudging and ungracious. Faults which would be excusable in other men become odious in the light of Dicken's writing. He frequented the demi-monde with Wilkie Collins. He probably seduced and certainly kept the young actress Ellen Teman, to whom he left £1,000 in his will, thereby putting her name in disrepute while at the same time leaving her miserably provided. All this is very ugly in the creator of Little Emily and Martha. He claimed a spurious pedigree and used an illicit crest—a simple weakness in anyone except himself who vehemently denounced the importance attached to gentle birth. In success he was intolerably boastful, in the smallest reverse abject with self-pity. He was domineering and dishonourable in his treatment of his publishers. He was, in fact, a thumping cad [Waugh, "Apotheosis of an Unhappy Hypocrite," The Spectator, October 2, 1953].

Clearly a model for Waugh's grotesque tale, this reading of Dickens is allegorical of all the large hypocrisy and emotional emptiness that masquerades in A Handful of Dust under the small pieties of upper-class social life. What better writer could Waugh have found with whom to torment Tony Last—and the gullible reader who has been incautious enough to look for some deliverance for Tony or anyone else in this allegory of a world without grace and thus without any chance of fulfillment?

The landscape of A Handful of Dust is perfectly pieced together, as an allegorical landscape must be. The surfaces of buildings, as of people, are described with a splendid and an unmistakable precision. The rooms within, like the interior dispositions of the people, are carefully decorated. Waugh is following the example of his tutors in the allegory of irony—Henry Fielding and Laurence Sterne. He has left behind at this point the epicene shallows of Ronald Firbank, an earlier guide in the tones and textures of irony. The depths in which he finds and leaves his allegorical figures are those of Hieronymus Bosch and the elder Pieter Brueghel, not perhaps because he has sought those depths but because they have sought him. This world of a pettiness so acute that it has become an almost diabolical kind of hallucination was the world which sat for its portrait in Waugh's studio. This world of evasions, of shadows in retreat and of shadows in pursuit, this world that Eliot prepared for burial in The Waste Land—"I will show you fear in a handful of dust"—Waugh drew from its winding sheets and stood end to end in its native flats and country houses. This world of the living dead Waugh painted as Bosch and Cranach and Brueghel did—in allegorical precision. This was the world without grace, its rituals superbly ordered inversions of Christianity, its instruments so perfectly tuned that one could hardly hear the difference. One had to look very closely indeed to see that the laughter bared too much gum and popped the eyes too much to be the laughter of entertainment.

For some readers, the entertainment dropped out of Waugh's novels after A Handful of Dust, never to return. He simply did not get the facts of Mussolini's invasion of Ethiopia straight in Scoop, and to the hollow humors of his novel of the cold war, Put Out More Flags, he added an embarrassing tinge of patriotism. Real heroism, even if inadvertent, seemed to be popping up beneath the mock heroics. The sounds of the indecorous war that had brought Vile Bodies to its conclusion had given way to noisier exchanges in a war that shattered more than mere decorum. The comic-opera struggles for power in the African kingdoms of Black Mischief and Scoop did not amuse any longer; they had been replaced by a deadly warfare in the desert in which men Waugh loved and admired were losing their lives. The terms of the allegory were irremediably changed. The deadly sins were still there—lust, gluttony, greed, and especially sloth, of which Waugh had appointed himself the patron devil. But now there were, of all things, virtues to be dealt with. Grace hovered overhead, even appeared now and then in the lives of the Halberdiers of Waugh's trilogy about the war: Men at Arms (1952), Officers and Gentlemen (1955), and Unconditional Surrender (1961; The End of the Battle in its American edition). In fact, some of Waugh's fictional regiment seemed to be positively maddened by grace, not the least of them that improbable hero of the trilogy, Guy Crouchback, who seems dedicated to moral ambiguity—that is to say, dedicated to the contradictory textures of the human condition, the only textures in which grace can comfortably appear.

The leading figures of Waugh's suddenly uprighted world are not very different from those of the inverted one. They have gone to the public school of Decline and Fall, to the parties of Vile Bodies, to the hunts of A Handful of Dust; they have served their own mad little comers of the cold war bureaucracy of Put Out More Flags, and scratched their way to the top—or the bottom—of African kingdoms. Even in their weaker moments, they have more often achieved the look of lechery and the manners of sin than the matter. Their moral failures have been most frequently failures to be immoral, which in the old days could be shrugged off in the giggling manner of Vile Bodies

"What I always wonder, Kitty dear, is what they actually do at these parties of theirs. I mean, do they …?"

"My dear, from all I hear, I think they do."

"Oh, to be young again, Kitty. When I think, my dear, of all the trouble and exertion which we had to go through to be even moderately bad … those passages in the early morning and mama sleeping next door."

"And yet, my dear, I doubt very much whether they really appreciate it all as we should … young people take things so much for granted."

"Si la jeunesse savait, Kitty …"

"Si la vieillesse pouvait."

In the new days, the days of Brideshead and the Halberdiers, some sense is made of all this patchwork of immorality wished-for and morality achieved in spite of one's dearest hopes. The coherent patterns of a moral theology supervene. The revels, achieved or postponed, are permanently interrupted. The great romance of Brideshead, for example, into which the reader, following Waugh's sentimental lead, has poured so much expectant feeling, is dashed on the rocks of canon law. Julia Mottram must accept the terms of her marriage, as set forth in the positive legislation of the Church. She and Charles Ryder must separate. She must say goodbye. Ryder asks what she will do. She will not, she explains, lead a life of lies, on one side or the other:

"Just go on—alone. How can I tell what I shall do? You know the whole of me. You know I'm not one for a life of mourning. I've always been bad. Probably I shall be bad again, punished again. But the worse I am the more I need God. I can't shut myself out from His mercy. That is what it would mean; starting a life with you, without Him. One can only hope to see one step ahead. But I saw today there was one thing unforgivable—like things in the schoolroom, so bad they are unpunishable, that only Mummy could deal with-the bad thing I was on the point of doing, that I'm not quite bad enough to do; to set up a rival good to God's. Why should I be allowed to understand that, and not you, Charles? It may be because of Mummy, Nanny, Cordelia, Sebastian—perhaps Bridey and Mrs. Muspratt—keeping my name in their prayers; or it may be a private bargain between me and God, that if I give up this one thing I want so much, however bad I am, He won't quite despair of me in the end.

"Now we shall both be alone, and I shall have no way of making you understand."

Non-Catholic readers can surely be forgiven their revulsion at the seeming smugness of this dismissal of love. The set speech comes so easily from the rhetoric of the rectory. God has made the laws, down to their last canon, and we who have been initiated into His great legal fraternity, we understand. Pity we cannot make others understand.

Was Waugh trying to make others understand when he constructed his canonist's copybook adultery? Had he given up irony for apologetics? The same question can be asked about the sterile marriage which haunts Guy Crouchback, made twice as barren by the unyielding law of the Church which prevents any satisfaction to Guy in the relationship. His attempt to seduce his former wife is ruined when he informs her that the seduction is entirely licit since their marriage had never been dissolved by the Church; she runs, appalled, from his arms. He can only remarry her, to make legitimate her child by a brother officer, a malingerer and moral neutral with the precisely allegorical name of Trimmer, who has become a hero malgré lui, in a series of events typical of the activity of grace in the Sword of Honour trilogy. Grace pursues its victims in the Crouchback novels in the ancient manner, makes heroes of trimmers and withholds the trappings of honor from those who have performed with virtue. Grace achieves the textures of irony in these books. When it lands on a hero's head, it dents his skull; it marks him a fool. If Waugh has turned to apologetics, he has not relinquished the allegory of irony to do so. He has discovered, like the Flemish painters before him, where that allegory leads.

Irony, now that it is to be employed in the precincts of grace, must make chivalry seem gauche, a hopeless anachronism; charity, the always underlying virtue in these quarters, must appear the refuge of fools. Guy Crouchback forms himself, as best he can, in the image and after the likeness of a medieval knight, Roger of Waybrooke, and grace confounds him, after having long confused him, by supporting his insane sentimentalization of the past. He finds his appropriate roles, is splendidly victimized in war and peace, and ends up, mirabile dictu, with a marriage that works, after his first wife has died. The original, British-edition title of the last of the Crouchback novels, Unconditional Surrender, is the final irony in the saga: everyone, everything concedes; grace settles on Guy's head with all the sweet finality of happy events at the end of a novel by Charles Dickens. Guy, it is clear, is a thumping saint. To the consternation of the conventional hagiologist, he is a saint rewarded on earth, although not exactly with public honors and a grand justification of his follies. His rewards come in retirement from the battles, to the family estate which is as much his inheritance as are the motions of chivalry. His life in retirement opens before him in the manner of the last years of the medieval knight. The moves are classical. Guy is, as his name makes abundantly clear, a throwback, a minor aristocrat in the annals of the blood, a major aristocrat in the annals of the spirit. One has to look twice to find him, in either set of records, crouched, like a self-conscious gargoyle, hiding beneath the benches, not of royalty or the first families of the realm, but of the quieter and less heralded families at the periphery. But one finds him—or rather grace does. And we respond—or rather grace permits us to, if we accept the terms of Waugh's allegory—in spite of all our inherited distaste for religious sentiment and the coincidences and inadvertencies which it keeps stirring up.

It is silly to reproach Waugh with the coincidences and inadvertencies of his books, whether they are the contrivances of a late religious romanticism or those of an early dyspeptic expressionism; almost as silly as the accusation that his figures are without objective reality. An allegorist's figures, like his landscapes, are deliberately contrived. Events in an allegorist's world are chained together by coincidence and inadvertences which are quite without spontaneity. Causal connections are made by the logic of the imagination and tied firmly together by the webs of dogma—whether of art or of religion or of both. Waugh's allegories take root in the real world, but they flower in no world that ever was, no matter how close their world may seem at times to the world we know. Their reality is a spiritual one, which is not to say a rational one or one that seeks the balance it does not have. The reality of the spirit may be a deranged reality or a supremely sane one. Who is to say whether the world of Brideshead and the Crouchbacks and the Halberdiers is more or less deranged than that of Tony and Brenda Last or the public-school and party-going folk of the early satires—such as Captain Grimes, Agatha Runcible, Ambrose Silk, Basil Seal, Margot Metroland, and Mrs. Ape? From beginning to end, it is the reality of the spirit that concerns Waugh. He is relentless in his efforts to get at it and ruthless with the devices of fictional realism. His novel is the novel of the eighteenth century. His techniques of characterization and narration are those of the originators of the English novel. And so in his novels, right to the end, we live with personifications and placards—Lord Outrage and Lady Circumference and Lord Tangent, Miss Tin and Miles Plastic, Mr. Joyboy and Aimée Thanatogenos, Trimmer and Major Hound. Like the titles of his books, the names of his characters signify much in the construction of his allegories. He is never shy about extending meanings beyond the uncertainties of chance and the imprecisions of the laws of probability.

In reading Waugh, one does well to meditate, for a few moments at least, on his contrivances. They are not schoolboy jokes, as they may at first appear, nor are they allegorical commonplaces. They are lines into a world of moral speculation in which every image is a potential icon and every proper noun a likely emblem. They begin as counters in a game of great comic gusto. They end as the blazons of a devout and complex heraldry.

It would be a great mistake to overestimate the depth of Waugh's allegories, to see either in the comic counters or in the heraldic clutterings a profound insight into the human condition. It would be a distortion of these materials to find anything entirely fresh or novel in them, and from Waugh's point of view an impertinence. His allegories are of an ancient kind and their content as far outside the philosophy, psychology, and sociology of this century as his devices could make it and as a vocabulary intelligible to modern readers would permit. To find more than a passing joke or a lingering sentimentality in Waugh, one must surrender to his world of the spirit and the style in which it is encased. One must, in a sense, accept and undergo the ordeal of Evelyn Waugh as a kind of spiritual exercise. For that, surely, is what Waugh's performance amounts to, looked at as an entity. It does represent a complete oeuvre, I believe, a unity not always sought but somehow usually found. Working with the materials of a dying society, a society in which such values as could be discovered were inevitably blurred and sometimes impossibly opaque. Waugh found coherences and even more—an underlying structure: the "Catholic structure [that] still lies lightly buried beneath every phase of English life; history, topography, law, archaeology everywhere reveal Catholic origins." That revelation of coherence and structure, and of underlying design and purpose, led to another revelation for Waugh: it was possible to give the history and topography of his novels an unmistakable coherence, structure, design, and purpose, and not simply to allow those qualities to appear as the functions of a rigorously measured prose style. An irony that accidentally produced an allegory of sorts gave way to an allegory of irony dedicated to the exploration and even, sometimes, to the explication of Christian values. A covert regard for the ridiculous people with whom he lived out his public-school and college and party-going youth became an open sentiment of support for the soldiers who survived the opening ceremonies of World War II long enough to fight with style—in whatever task, fatuous or glorious, they were assigned—for Christian values, whether or not they understood or even professed those values.

Waugh had discovered some years before he died that, as he explained in the introductory note to The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold (1957), "Hallucination is far removed from loss of reason." He was explaining that he himself had undergone "a brief bout of hallucination" very much like that described in the novel. "The reason works with enhanced power," he went on, "while the materials for it to work on, presented by the senses, are delusions. A story-teller naturally tries to find a plot into which his observations can be fitted." That, it seems to me, is the point of Waugh's work, a point made with more and more clarity and precision as his life wore on, and with more and more warmth that sometimes settled into sentimentality. Hallucinations and all the other demonstrations of human fallibility, Waugh's fables tell us, and tell us with particular strength of conviction at the end, are also opportunities for a show of reason. That is his faith. It makes, finally, even the modern world endurable for him.

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