"Huxley's Ape:" Waugh in Scandinavia (August-September 1947).
The trip is of interest to Waugh readers, however, because it took place at the peak of his popularity as a novelist, between the publication of his two best-selling works. Brideshead had been issued in 1945, and he had just completed The Loved One, that would be published in 1948. During the tour he was extensively interviewed by reporters and asked about these two books, as well as those written previously and what new works he had in mind. In addition, he had recently returned from his trip to Hollywood and discussed his impressions of the USA and the film industry as well as the burial practices at Forest Lawn. His reactions were mostly candid and informative. They were widely reported in the newspapers of all three Scandinavian countries and are translated here for the first time. The reporters manifested a keen interest in his answers about the USA.
Another factor that is mentioned as a motivation was the opportunity it gave Waugh to spend royalties from his books published in the Scandinavian countries, without paying what he considered confiscatory UK taxes. (1) As it turned out, it also enabled him to gain publicity for increased sales of existing translations of his books already in print and to promote translations of those in process. The post-war conditions may also have been less austere in the Scandinavian countries than in the UK; this seems to have been true in the case of food service, in any case.
He met with the local correspondents of the Daily Telegraph in Stockholm and Copenhagen, and they probably provided some orientation, but his local Scandinavian publishers in all three cities (Oslo being the other) also became involved in the planning and made the most of his presence to publicize his books. To give some idea of Waugh's popularity there at the time of this trip, the extent of the availability of his books in translation can be used as a guide. In Sweden, his first stop, by 1947 various publishers had issued translations of Black Mischief, Brideshead, Put Out More Flags and Scoop. In Denmark, all of his novels up to and including Brideshead, plus a volume of short stories, had been published in Danish by that year. (2) In Norway, A Handful of Dust had been published in late 1947, after his trip; this was followed by Brideshead and The Loved One in the following years. In both Sweden and Denmark, combined editions of the translations of The Loved One and Scott-King's Modern Europe were also published shortly after his visit.
Stockholm (17-25 August 1947)
Waugh leaves a fairly detailed description of his stop in Sweden (the longest of the trip) in his diaries and letters. He also wrote about it in his articles for the Daily Telegraph (see below, beginning on page 21), and wrote another story several months later about being interviewed by one of the Stockholm newspapers. This had its genesis in a proposal from the Strand magazine, unconnected with the Scandinavian trip and several weeks after the Daily Telegraph articles had been published. The magazine wanted a short story from Waugh about being a celebrity. He felt, however, that would be immodest, so instead he proposed to write an article about being interviewed. (3) This turned into his essay first published in the New York edition of Vogue (July 1948, 68) as "Let My Pulse Alone." It was apparently not what Strand had in mind, and an abbreviated UK version appeared in Nash's magazine for Winter 1948-9 entitled "The Gentle Art of Being Interviewed." (4)
The essay is in effect a fictionalized version of an incident that occurred in Stockholm. Waugh had also described the incident and its factual details in his diaries. The interview itself, taking up roughly half the essay, could just as easily have been deemed a short story. The newspaper Dagens Nyheter wanted to interview him (no doubt encouraged in this regard by his Swedish publisher) and a reporter was sent to meet him. As Waugh describes it:
After luncheon [on 19 August 1947] a dull young woman, fat, came to interview me. Later when the interview appeared it was headed: 'Huxley's Ape makes hobby of graveyards.' (5)
His "celebrity interview" article in both published versions starts with Waugh's consideration of how celebrities frequently make fools of themselves by mishandling press interviews. He then softens his disdain for such hapless victims and recounts an example of how he himself mismanaged one. In his magazine account, he changes several facts. He says the interview took place on the day of his arrival (17 August) and that the reporter had entered his hotel room unbeknownst to him while he was napping after a tiring journey. He also relocates the site of the interview to "Happiland," described as a "small, friendly country, never much visited by the English, and last summer quite deserted by them..." (EAR, 357). This fictionalization of the setting may have been thought prudent in view of his publishing arrangement with the Daily Telegraph or he may have wished to avoid problems with Dagens Nyheter and its reporter over his restatement of the facts.
In any event, what follows is a humorous narrative, inhabited by numerous linguistic and cultural misunderstandings between him and the purportedly chubby woman reporter. She begins by calling him "Mr. Wog" and referring to herself as representing "our great liberal newspaper," whose name sounded to Waugh like the utterance of "some deep Happilandic gutterals." He professed to being groggy from his sleep at the start, but regained his sell-possession when this exchange began:
"Mr. Wog, are you a great satyr?" "I assure you not." "My editor says you have satirized the English nobility. It is for this he has sent me to make a reportage. You are the famous Wog, are you not?"
After further misunderstandings, which Waugh likens to a game of "Snakes and Ladders" (with some answers an advance for him and others, a fall back), the interviewer concludes that Waugh is scorned by other English writers because he is a proletarian and announces "Oh, Mr. Wog, how I will satirize them in my reportage! It will enrage my editor [...] Mr. Wog, you have come here to satirize Happiland?" Waugh replies "Certainly not" (EAR, 358-59).
The Swedish article based on the actual interview appeared on 20 August 1947, the day after it was conducted. This was in Dagens Nyheter, (6) which is indeed the liberal voice of the Swedish press and continues to publish to this day. The headline is accurately translated by Waugh in his diary and the story opens thus:
Evelyn Waugh, called Aldous Huxley's ape and famous for his acrid cynicism and conversion to Catholicism, is in Stockholm and is looking at graveyards. It's his hobby--he says that with an enigmatic smile--and Hollywood's cemeteries have recently inspired him to write a new book, The Loved One. In Sweden he is struck by the high suicide rate and the need to legislate in order to avoid creating alcoholics. ("Kyrkogard hobby for Huxleys apa, har pa besok." DN 20 August 1947, 6)
It is not clear whether it was Waugh himself who made the connection with Huxley or someone at DN. The reference is to Aldous Huxley's 1939 novel After Many a Summer Dies the Swan, in which one of the main characters is the owner of, inter alia, a graveyard that is based on Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California. This is the same cemetery memorialized by Waugh as "Whispering Glades" in The Loved One, which he had just finished writing before departing for Scandinavia. It had not yet been published anywhere.
Waugh had read Huxley's novel before embarking for Hollywood in early 1947, but became obsessed with graveyards only after several visits to Forest Lawn, to which he was introduced by his friend Sheila Milbanke. Huxley featured the cemetery, which he called Hollywood Pantheon, less prominently in his novel than did Waugh and could not fairly be described as "obsessed" with graveyards to the same extent. Huxley's novel may itself have been familiar to the DN journalists, however, since a Swedish version was published in 1940 under the title Efter manga somrar (Stockholm: Wahlstrom & Widstrand, 1940). So, it is possible that it was they (and not Waugh) who made the connection between the two writers' interest in graveyards.
Once the subject was introduced into the interview, Waugh seems to have made rather a meal of it and, in doing so, may have inadvertently created publicity for a Swedish version of his new novel. The DN article continues:
It's hard to know if Evelyn Waugh should be taken seriously, jokingly, or with a pinch of salt. During his visit to Stockholm, he is a lovely gentleman who relates how he managed to avoid having his latest book, Brideshead Revisited, filmed in Hollywood. He went there this Spring, found that Metro-Goldwyn tried to make too many changes to the story and went on to spend most of his time in the graveyards. What fascinated him were the young girls who had the job of putting 'make up' on the dead that were on parade in front of them; one of them, Aimee, is the protagonist of his new book. She is completely absorbed by her profession and nothing but suicide can stop her. She abandons her lover when she finds out that he is employed at a pet cemetery. The book is not yet printed, but is likely to come out this fall, says Mr. Waugh.
In fact, the book first appeared in Cyril Connolly's magazine Horizon the following year, taking up the entire February 1948 issue. It was first issued in book form in the USA in July 1948. UK book publication was delayed until later in the year to avoid a marketing conflict with Scott-King's Modern Europe. The Swedish version also appeared in 1948, in a combined edition with Scott-King entitled Den kare bortgangne och Scott-Kings europeiska resa.
Waugh also used the occasion of the DN interview to promote yet another future project. He told their reporter that he
... also plans to write about his impressions from the war, in which he served as a British captain. It will be about a young man who goes out to war with the ideals of a knight, but leaves it disillusioned--not with the ability of individuals to maintain their ideals, but with the whole nation's.
This may be the first time Waugh mentioned (in public, at least) his idea for writing a war novel. He also refers to it at his stops in both Oslo and Copenhagen and again in two newspaper interviews over a year later during his USA lecture tour in early 1949. The first installment appeared later that year in the form of a short story entitled "The Major Intervenes" in the Atlantic Monthly, subsequently expanded for UK publication as "Compassion" and adopted as part of the conclusion for the war trilogy, Sword of Honour.
The DN article concludes with some of Waugh's views on Sweden after his first few days in the country:
Mr. Waugh is very fond of Stockholm, which he finds to be the least American city he has ever seen. He is staying here for a week. He finds the Swedes to be individualists, but he has difficulty understanding how our healthy appearance can hide high statistics of suicide and a compulsion to legislate about alcohol consumption. He wants to study conditions more closely during the week he remains in Sweden.
These remarks will reappear to some extent in his own Daily Telegraph articles.
The day after publication of the DN article, Waugh was interviewed at his hotel by another Stockholm paper. This was Svenska Dagbladet, (7) and their article appeared in the paper's 22 August 1947 edition: "Gora bok for filmen lonar sig knappast" (7), ("Making a Film from a Book is Not Worthwhile"). The headline refers to Waugh's recent experience in Hollywood with the aborted attempt to agree film rights for Brideshead. He goes on to say that he is not currently working on another book, forestalling a repeat discussion of graveyard obsessions. He does, however, mention the earlier article in DN and asks rhetorically whether the SD reporter thinks he looks like an ape. He concludes the discussion of his writing with an opinion based on his recent experience:
'I also think that it's not a very good idea to make a book into a movie. This art form requires specially written manuscripts. The French have understood this and, therefore, their films are the best in the world.'
He also refers to his impressions of Sweden, elaborating somewhat on those he gave in the earlier interview:
'My strongest impression from Sweden is of the Old Town in Stockholm, which is more beautiful than I ever imagined, and the Swedish girls. They all look like brides, as satisfied and contented as if they had nothing else to wish for. But how is it that you have the highest suicide rate in the world?'
After explaining that he lives in the country rather than in London because "in London, I would not be able to work," Waugh ends the interview with a brief summation of his WWII career:
'During the war I put authorship on the shelf and was just a soldier. My longest service was in the Commandoes, but I also was trained in parachuting, and at the end I was liaison officer between our forces and Marshal Tito's in Yugoslavia. He was terrible.'
According to the SD article, the last bit was expressed "with feeling and emphasis."
In his diaries and a letter to his wife, Waugh mentions in some detail those with whom he met in Sweden. These included the Daily Telegraph correspondent, socialite friends of both Randolph Churchill and Victor Mallet (former British Ambassador to Sweden), a Swedish Foreign Office official ("a pansy in a bungalow full of art"), and his Swedish publisher ("a dull fellow"), as well as two poets the publisher introduced to him: "They call themselves the '40 group,' admire Kafka, Sartre." He also made an excursion to Uppsala where he met the Chancellor of the university. In addition, he did considerable sightseeing around Stockholm (which he told his wife wore him out) and was invited to several dinner parties. (8)
He took the opportunity to tell Laura in his letter from Stockholm that he had decided not to move the family to Ireland. His biographers seem to consider this announcement the most important event of the trip (e.g., Stannard II, 201; Patey, Douglas. The Life of Evelyn Waugh. Oxford: 1998, 252).
Oslo, Norway (25-29 August 1947)
Waugh flew from Stockholm to Oslo. This was a smaller place, more affected by the war than Stockholm. He found "the food poor, the noise of trams under my window intolerable, the city ugly." His Norwegian agent ("a midget female socialist") took him to meet his publisher ("who hasn't published anything yet"). They had, however, organized a press conference. This was apparently convened in the early evening of the day he arrived, although his chronology is not entirely clear. It consisted, according to Waugh, of "half a dozen journalists [...], of whom two or three knew no English" and one of whom was drunk. There was also "a communist who walked out when I answered a question about Tito [...]. One man drew an offensive caricature of me. The journalist who did all the talking & seemed the most cultured was the representative of a paper devoted to the Merchant Navy." The press attache from the embassy is also said to have done most of the talking, probably meaning from Waugh's side of the table; i.e., introductions and translations (9). Despite being virtually unknown to Norwegian readers, Waugh received respectable press coverage.
The Oslo newspaper VG (an abbreviation for Verdens Gang, literally "The Course of the World") published a story the next day that opens with a description of Waugh's literary output and an announcement that two of his works were about to be published in Norwegian translations: A Handful of Dust in mid-October and Brideshead Revisited in the spring of 1948. The story then segued into what is apparently a partial transcript of the press conference (translation by Ivar Dale): (10)
Q. The book that will now be published in Norwegian, what is it about, Mr. Waugh? A. The setting is fashionable society and the main character is a rich landowner, his wife and a young man with whom the wife betrays her husband. The young man goes to South America on an expedition, he gets lost and perhaps it's not worth telling any more. Q. Is it true that you have just been to Hollywood, what is your sincere opinion of the place? A. Oh, it's a beautiful place to holiday with your wife. Q. But what about the film production? A. It aims to satisfy millions of people at once, and that leads to artistic demands being neglected. Q. And what about books turned into movies? A. Most are re-worked until they are destroyed. I don't believe much in films based on books. Film and literature are two entirely different art forms, and it's difficult not to harm a book during its re-working into a movie script. I could mention that I watched Chaplin's latest movie in Hollywood, it's called Monsieur Vercour [sic]. I liked it. But Chaplin isn't exactly popular in Hollywood. A lot of communists gather in his home, but I wouldn't dare to say that Chaplin is a member of the Communist Party. Q. How do you view English literature today? A. There is a clear tendency among English writers today, those over 40, to put more emphasis on style. Most are apathetic towards Christianity, but there are religious writers, especially Catholic. They aren't so many that they are noticed... [garbled digital text.]. Finally we must add that Mr. Waugh was very interested also in Norwegian conditions, especially those relating to literature. But he also wanted to get as thorough an impression of the Norwegian people as is possible on a 'French visit.' (11)
The following day Arbeiderbladet (now Dagsavisen) published a similar story, mentioning the Chaplin remarks and the assessment of contemporary English literature. This had the headline "40-aringene dominerer engelsk literatur" ("40-Year-Olds Dominate English Literature;" 27 August 1947, 2). Their report on the latter may help clarify the foregoing report in the VG for which the digital text was garbled:
'Many English writers now consider it their task to keep the English language free of American influence,' said Mr. Waugh. 'One can therefore detect a stronger stylistic interest than before. It is the people in their 40s who dominate. Few of the younger ones have so far shown themselves as possessing significant talents for fiction.'
The Arbeiderbladet story also added a bit about Waugh's war experience liaising with Tito's forces in Yugoslavia: "In fact, I would rather have become a parachutist, but I was too fat."
Aftenposten (Norway's newspaper of record and with the largest circulation) also had a story on page 1 of its 27 August 1947 edition accompanied by a photograph and the headline "Shakespeares vitser forferdelige, sier Evelyn Waugh" ("Shakespeare's Jokes Are Awful, Says Evelyn Waugh"). This included some topics not mentioned by the other two papers: (12)
Q. What is your first impression of the Vigeland Park, Mr. Waugh? A. The best cities have something unique to show. When I saw Vigeland's work I immediately thought: This belongs to Oslo and no other city in the world. It is absolutely unique. In the days to come I will study there more closely, to write about it. It is the most pagan thing I have seen in Europe. Q. Is the last thing meant as a compliment? A. Not from my side, because I'm a Christian. Q. Are you also an existentialist? A. No, you can't be both. Soren Kierkegaard was, but now the leaders in Paris have taken the old beliefs out of the existential slime. Q. Kierkegaard mocked what he called Sunday Christians. What do you think of them? A. If Kirkegaard had lived in a Catholic country, there would be no need for such a distinction. Q. Are you Catholic? A. Yes, I converted in 1928 ("Ja, jeg hie det i 1928"). (13) There are two million Catholics in England now, and especially among the intellectuals there is a great search for the Catholic Church. Q. There is humour in your book Black Mischief. Have you ever sought to explain the source of that humour? A. Humour is the most dated ("dognpregede," literally date-embossed) thing I can imagine. Something that was funny 50 years ago is like a withered flower today. Mark Twain for example. Shakespearean jokes are awful. Humour is not immortal. Also, it is very difficult for one country to accept another country's humour. It's a personal thing. Comedy, irony and satire, on the other hand, are universal. Q. Are there any humourists you particularly appreciate? A. Yes, Max Beerbohm and the English writer John Betjeman. Humour is for some men a life philosophy ("livsanskuelse"). For me, it is something physical. You feel something in your neck, or you know nothing. Surely, in that sense, humour is very close to tragedy. Q. Based on your own experience, what do you think of modern American literature? A. The Americans have to go to Europe to develop their talent. America is a good starting point, but what they get over there is nothing. Even Hemingway had to go abroad for inspiration. There is something in the American climate that makes the seed grow well, but then it must be transplanted. Q. Do you have specific opinions about politics? A. I'm not a politician. Q. You have pronounced, sharp views of Tito. A. I have, because he has made an original, admirable patriotic movement into an instrument of communism. Q. It seems that you do not fear that war characterizes relationships between many countries? A. I'm not thinking of war. If war comes, I will take part to the extent my age allows, but I will not let the thought of war intervene in my work and family life. Q. Those who are Catholic: do you think the atomic age of scientific development will pull many away from the church? A. In every generation, there is a devil who tempts some away from the faith. Adultery still exists. Of course, science can also be used as an excuse.
It is evident from his diaries and letters that Waugh enjoyed himself less in Norway than he did in Sweden. He mentions fewer social engagements in Oslo. He dined with his publisher at least twice, once after the press conference and later when he was introduced to Norwegian novelist Sigrid Undset: "She never spoke except to ask if I had read 'Julie Noitch' (Julian of Norwich, it transpired), drank a lot, and looked like a malevolent boarding-house proprietress." (14) There is also a record of a dinner engagement with a Mr. Some, to whom Waugh wrote a letter the next day thanking him for his hospitality as well as for the gift of a 5-volume set of books containing reproductions of the paintings of Norwegian artist Edvard Munch. (15)
The one thing that did impress him in Oslo (otherwise dismissed variously as "hideous..., hot, dusty, noisy, shabby, ugly" and containing a town hall then under construction that would be, when completed, the "ugliest building in Europe") was the sculpture of Gustav Vigeland. Even that he found "preposterously hideous," but nevertheless interesting, as he elaborated in his Daily Telegraph articles. (16)
Copenhagen, Denmark (29 August-2 September)
Denmark more than made up for the relative disappointment of Norway. Waugh quickly discovered that he was "a highly popular writer among the Danes" (Diaries, 688). Indeed, unlike Norwegians, who were still awaiting their first translation of any of his works, every novel he had written and even a volume of stories were already available in Denmark by the time he arrived in 1947. Starting in 1942, two Danish publishing houses (Thaning & Appel and Gyldendal) had managed to get eight of his books into print despite wartime constraints and Nazi occupation. The most recent were Put Out More Flags (Flere flag) and Brideshead Revisited (Gensynet med Brideshead) which both appeared in 1946.
He was met at the Copenhagen airport by his two Danish publishers and the Daily Telegraph correspondent as well as "a dozen journalists and cameramen" (Diaries, 688). This must have been organized into a formal press conference, although no one from the British Embassy is mentioned as having been in attendance, as was the case in Oslo. One of the members of the press corps (Svend Kragh-Jacobson of the daily Copenhagen paper Berlingske Tidende) afterwards joined the two publishers in escorting Waugh around the sights, which included "Tivoli... Elsinore, Baroness Blixen and a Catholic rally at Forum" (Diaries, 688-89). Baroness Karen Blixen, who wrote as Isak Dinesen, was the author of several books in both Danish and English, including the novel Out of Africa (1937). As was the case with Sigrid Undset in Norway, Blixen seems to have made little impression on Waugh.
Given the well-attended press conference, newspaper coverage in Denmark was correspondingly more prolific than in either Norway or Sweden. Major stories appeared on 30 August 1947 in the three leading Copenhagen papers: Berlingske Tidende, Politiken and Nationaltidende, as well as several others. The most detailed coverage was in Politiken, the socialist paper (30 August 1947, 5; 6). This was signed by "Jonal" and carried the headline "Chaplin er for mig en Slags amerikansk Sartre" ("Chaplin Is for Me a Kind of American Sartre"). There is also a prominent photo of Waugh holding up a glass of Danish beer, apparently at the airport. The report of the interview in Politiken opens with a statement from Waugh and then carries on in a Q&A format:
But my wife has gradually got used to my books, says Evelyn Waugh. By the way, I've never been able to write a roman a clef. All of my figures are free fantasy, even though I have been as inspired by real life as any other novelist. Brideshead Revisited Q. Which of your books do you like the most? A. Brideshead Revisited, which I hear recently came to Denmark. Decline and Fall as well. The British like it best, and Scoop, a novel about journalists in the Abyssinian War. The worst thing I have done is probably Vile Bodies. It's simply makework! Q. Do you lay out a careful plan before you start writing a novel? A. No, I'm just trying to give character to some people, and sometimes I'm quite amazed at what they end up being. Put Out More Flags I wrote aboard a troop ship during the war. I thought the chief female character was a strange fish, until one of the ship's crew gave me the advice to make her drink. Then she suddenly seemed clear and became a living being. Q. The conclusion of Brideshead Revisited has been so much discussed throughout the world. Is this on account of the position you hold about Catholicism? A. Yes. But everything I wrote about Catholicism is serious and honest. I don't want to act as a propagandist, but when you--as I--have gone over to Catholicism, you feel it; almost like a calling. Q. Can we soon expect something new from your hand? A. Just before I traveled to Scandinavia, I finished a macabre little book about cadavers and embalmers. It's called The Loved One. But I will try to write a larger novel about the war and the English soldiers, especially those I followed closely. Like the group I served with in Yugoslavia near the end of the war. Q. Do you want to return to Yugoslavia? A. I don't think the Yugoslavs want me back. So that's easy. Q. What do you think of England's immediate situation? A. I don't have any opinion whatsoever. I don't want to deal with politics. There are far too many nowadays who believe that politicians can save the world. I do not think so. Is England's Aristocracy in Disrepair? Q. Is the English aristocracy in such decay as that you describe in your books? A. It depends on how you read my books. I'm not saying our aristocracy is in disrepair. During the war, the English nobility made an excellent job of it, along with the rest of the population. The English nobility has always done that when there was war. Q. Is it not the the aristocracy that has felt the brunt of your satire? A. No, not at all. Q. Which authors do you hold in the highest regard? A. In my younger days, I liked Voltaire a lot, but today there are so many that I do not want to name just a few. Q. Have you completely abandoned journalism? A. I recently wrote a couple of absolutely bland articles in the Daily Telegraph about my American journey. I traveled with my wife who had not been outside England for seven years. Q. What was your impression of Hollywood? A. I think most of the Hollywood movies are dull and sad to encounter. In general, I cannot understand why the life of a Hollywood star should be thought so enviable. They are slipping and dragging from morning to evening and never have time to relax. (17) I greeted Huxley in California and we had a great time together. In addition, I saw the two Hollywood artists I came to admire most: Charlie Chaplin and Walt Disney. The latter has not been so lucky with his last colour film "Song of the South," which in my opinion is simply horrific. (18) Well, he wants to make "Alice in Wonderland," not to mention a real-life Alice and not a drawn figure. Charlie Chaplin isn't exactly popular at the moment in Hollywood. They scold him for being a Communist, and what do I know? Maybe he is. In all cases he is a great artist. His last movie "Monsieur Verdoux" is actually brilliant. All his enemies have tried to pull it down, but it will probably go its good course anyway. He does not know it himself, but I must remember to tell him when we meet. Like Sartre, he blots out his innermost soul and considers it as would an outside spectator. (19) Q. Is none of your books to be filmed in Hollywood? A. No, I have let myself down. I don't think you can film a novel. A movie script must be born to film and only that. This is how the French feel, and that is probably one of the reasons why they are making better movies today than the Americans. Cemetery As a Hobby Q. They say you love going to graveyards? A. Yes, it really interests me to get to know graveyards around the world. In America, I saw a very funny graveyard with an artificial nightingale song when you pressed a button, as well as other refinements. It is, of course, sensible to concern yourself a little bit regarding where you will spend your next life; under the earth I mean. Evelyn Waugh smiles and drinks his glass of beer with all signs of well-being. To a last question about why he has come to Scandinavia, he answers: A. Honestly, I fled from my house in southern England because my five children have a summer vacation all at the same time, and that brings more disturbance to the house than my delicate nerves can take. And so, I always wanted to see Scandinavia; not least Hamlet's grave. I have visited my publishers both in Stockholm and Oslo, and now the trip has come to Thaning and Appel in Copenhagen. But I stay here only until Monday. Then I'll be back to England, and all the kids."
Berlingske Tidende, the Danish newspaper of record, published two follow-up reports. The first appeared on 31 August 1947 under the headline "Turist i Kobenhavn" (22; "Tourist in Copenhagen") and consisted of the paper's catalogue of Waugh's activity following his press conference on arrival. This was no doubt reported by their correspondent Svend Kragh-Jacobson, who Waugh says accompanied him on these excursions:
The first night, Evelyn Waugh spent in Tivoli, where he competed with his publishers to smash the most glass in a small restaurant. On this trip, he devoted himself to real sight-seeing. He walked through the town, admiring Amalienborg, which he found was the most beautiful place in Europe, sailed through Christianshavn's canals, climbed Our Savior's church tower and drank beer with Berlingske Tidende's reporter in a really small Christianshavner restaurant. Then he made time for both the Round Tower, the Lady Church, the University and, into the bargain, looked into one of the old rooms of the Regensen (Regents) College and recalled his own college days in Oxford. In the evening he was invited by the PEN-club's chairman Kai Friis Moller to a friendly dinner with a few Danish authors, Kjeld Abell, Tove Ditlevsen and Sven Clausen, and the publisher Hartmann, in the Skovriderkroen. Today he is going to Kronborg and Frederiksborg, for he still needs to see what a real tourist must see in Copenhagen.
Three days later, following his departure, this quote appeared (Berlingske Tidende, 3 September 1947) under the headline "From the Airport" ("Fra Lufthavnen"):
'This is a nice little country, and Copenhagen is a lovely city that Denmark has reason to be proud of: clean, friendly, cozy, festive, petty-bourgeois and metropolitan... this is not the last time I will come....' 'Did you find material for a new book during your stay here?' 'Not for a book, but for an article in the Daily Telegraph.' (22)
"Northern Approaches:" Daily Telegraph / New York Herald Tribune (September 1947 / January 1948)
When he arrived back at Piers Court, Waugh was faced with revising the typescript of The Loved One. He also addressed the need to produce the articles promised to the Daily Telegraph based on the trip they had sponsored. He foresaw two articles for which they would pay [pounds sterling]100 pounds each plus commission. Waugh directed that his fee be donated to the charity St. Charles Society. He sent a handwritten copy of the first article on 10 September to his agents with directions that it be typed. Waugh called it "The Northern Approaches," but neither paper in which it appeared adopted that title. (20) A few days later, Waugh sent out the second part. In his cover letter, he explained that the first part was "very small beer" and that "all the meat" was in the second part. He also instructed that "for America the two must be combined," leaving no conditions as to how much or what could be edited out. He also told Peters not to send the DT the first article, which had by then been typed, until the corrected version of the second was also ready. This would "lessen the shock at the poor return they are getting from all their expense." (21)
Peters sent both articles to the DT on 29 September. The next mention of the articles is in Waugh's letter to Peters dated 28 October in which he reports a casual conversation with Seymour Berry, who apparently worked at the DT and who told Waugh that they were negotiating with Peters about the articles. Waugh assumed from this that the DT did not want them but reminded Peters that they would have to pay the agreed rate anyway. (22) A few days later, Waugh received the proofs from the DT and, in a note informing Peters of this, he said that he "also received some advice on literary style from a Mr. Ballantyre." (23) That may explain the one-month delay. The DT published the articles on 11 and 13 November 1947 under the titles "The Scandinavian Capitals: Contrasted Post-War Moods" and "Scandinavia Prefers a Bridge to an Eastern Rampart." (24)
The first article summarizes Waugh's cultural assessments of all three countries, the effects of WWII on them, and their potential holiday interest to British travelers. He opens with claims that Stockholm and Copenhagen are two of the "most pleasant cities in the world," while "poor Oslo" is "noisy, inelegant," and yet radiant with civic pride. He credits Norway with having had a good war, characterized by armed opposition and a feeling of having "fought, suffered and conquered" (EAR, 339). This helped the Norwegians shed their previous feelings of inferiority to their neighbors. Sweden was "weary and cynical" and endemically neutral. Its omnipresent state seemed to be the sort of goal the British socialists were aiming for. The Danish war experience was a "bitter" one, with no military opposition and a relatively conservative resistance, bringing "humiliation without tragedy" (EAR, 340). The Danes were nevertheless the "most exhilarating people in Europe," not obsessed with politics, more civilized than the Norwegians and more humorous and imaginative than the Swedes (EAR, 341).
In the second article, he concentrates on the Scandinavian response to the threat of Communism and their attitudes toward religion. Denmark is barely mentioned except for its relative lack of interest in Communism. He sees Sweden as having rather capitulated to the Russians in an unfavorable trade pact where it will become a virtual "Russian workshop." All of Scandinavia is seen as having suffered "a vast apostasy" from the Christian religion (EAR, 342). He attributes this to their dependence on state schools (as opposed to Britain where religious training survives in Roman Catholic and "public" schools). For the vast majority of Scandinavians, "the religious conception of life [...] is totally and, humanly speaking, irretrievably lost." He describes the stark sculptural work of Gustav Vigeland in Oslo as "an expression of Scandinavian piety." He concludes that it is a "stupendous achievement" in which there is "no hint of any intellectual aspiration, [...] the most depressing spectacle it is possible to encounter; something far more awful than the ruins of Hiroshima" (EAR, 343).
The Daily Telegraph published seven letters in the week after the articles began appearing. Most defended the Scandinavian countries against claims of neglecting religion, pointing to obligatory religious training in the schools and evidence of active attendance at church services surpassing those in England. The Swedish ambassador, Vilgot Hammarling took issue with Waugh's claims that Sweden had entered into a trade treaty that made them "virtually a Russian workshop," (25) noting that it has not yet taken full effect and even when effective would result in deliveries worth less than half of those to Britain. He also argues that Waugh's concerns about such things as Sweden's low birth rate, high suicide rate and cynicism were more examples of his own "mental processes" based on a "deep disagreement" with the people he met than statements of observable fact. One writer defended Waugh's article against the ambassador's "sweeping and uncompromising denials" of Waugh's statements "without statistical support." (26) Uncharacteristically, Waugh did not engage in any responses even though several writers on the religious side offered what must have been tempting targets.
Meanwhile, Waugh's US agents had shopped the articles around the national magazines (Vogue and Town and Country are named) but found no takers. Finally, a magazine called This Week agreed to take them for circulation in the New York market. (27) After they were published in the UK, they ultimately appeared over two months later in the New York Herald Tribune's edition of This Week for 25 January 1948. Consistent with Waugh's instructions, the two articles had been combined into one that was entitled "Dreary Paradise." This was somewhat abridged, with most deletions from what had been the first DT article. (28)
Waugh also requested that his agents see whether there might be any interest in translating the articles for publication in the Scandinavian media. ADP sent out letters but only one response is recorded in their files. This came from the Swedish magazine Obs that had already noted its interest in publication back in August during Waugh's visit and to which he had then agreed. But when the articles were sent to Obs after London publication, they responded through Waugh's Scandinavian agent that they were no longer interested since the Swedish papers had already commented on them and they "were inferior in quality to what they had expected." (29)
Aftenposten in Norway carried a story about the second DT article on its front page in the 14 November 1947 edition, the day following publication in the DT: "Skandinavia kan ikke lenger regnes til den kristne verden" ("Scandinavia Can No Longer Be Considered in the Christian World"). This is an accurate summary of Waugh's article, without editorial comment. (30) At least one paper in Sweden took up Waugh's articles after they had appeared in the Herald Tribune / This Week, citing that article in their headline: "'Ledsamt paradis' tyckte mr Waugh om folkhemmet" ("'Dreary Paradise,' Says Mr. Waugh from the People's House"). (31) This appeared in Dagens Nyheter (29 January 1948, 1; 3), the Stockholm paper that had earlier labeled Waugh "Huxley's Ape." It is mostly devoid of editorial comment except for its ironic headline and its concluding sentence: "But that's not how it sounded when Mr. Waugh was interviewed during his visit to Sweden. At that point he thought that Stockholm was a charming city and that the Swedes were such individualists [as in 'free spirits']." It is doubtful that Waugh was aware of such reports, as no references to them appear in the Peters correspondence files at HRC.
Bernaud, H.C. "To the Editor." Daily Telegraph. 18 November 1947. 4.
"Evelyn Waugh endelig pa norsk." VG (Oslo). 26 August 1947. 8.
"40-aringene dominerer engelsk literature." Arbeiderbladet (Oslo). 27 August 1947. 2.
"Fra Lufthavnen." Berlingske Tidende (Copenhagen). 3 September 1947. 22.
"Gora bok for filmen lonar sig knappast." Svenska Dagbladet (Stockholm). 22 August 1947. 7.
Grunewald, A. Unpublished TLS to ADP, 15 December 1947. A. D. Peters Collection. Evelyn
Waugh Papers. Harry Ransom Center, U of Texas at Austin.
Hammarling, Vilgot. "Scandinavia Today: Letter to the Editor." Daily Telegraph. 15 November 1947. 2.
"Kyrkogard hobby for Huxleys apa, har pa besok." Dagens Nyheter (Stockholm). 20 August 1947. 6.
Jonal. "Chaplin er for mig en Slags amerikansk Sartre." Politiken (Copenhagen). 30 August 1947. 5-6.
"'Ledsamt paradis' tyckte mr Waugh om folkhemmet." Dagens Nyheter (Stockholm). 29 January 1948. 1, 3.
"Shakespeares vitser forferdelige, sier Evelyn Waugh." Aftenposten (Oslo). 27 August 1947. 1.
"Skandinavia kan ikke lenger regnes til den kristne verden." Aftenposten (Oslo). 14 November 1947. 1.
"Turist i Kobenhavn." Berlingske Tidende (Copenhagen). 31 August 1947. 22.
Waugh, Evelyn. Diaries. Ed. Michael Davie. London: Weidenfeld, 1976.
---. "Dreary Paradise: Some Observations on Three Capitals." New York Herald Tribune. This Week Magazine. 25 January 1948. 6.
---. Essays, Articles and Reviews. Ed. Donat Gallagher. London: Metheun, 1983.
---. Letters. Ed. Mark Amory. London: Weidenfeld, 1980.
---. Unpublished ALSs to ADP, 10 and 14 September and 28 October, 1947. Unpublished ANS to ADP, 3 November 1947. Unpublished APCI, 13 February 1948. A. D. Peters
Collection, Evelyn Waugh Papers, Harry Ransom Center, U of Texas at Austin.
Translations of newspaper articles were prepared in the first instance by the author (except as noted), using computerized versions as first drafts.
These were reviewed and edited: those from the Danish by Annette Rathje, from Norwegian by Ivar Dale, and from Swedish by Ingrid Edlund-Berry. Thanks to all of them for their valuable assistance.
Thanks also to Johanne Fronth-Nygren.
I owe a similar debt of gratitude to Martin Lund and Flemming Hagensen of the Royal Danish Library, Tove Giskeodegard and Julie Nerdal of the Norwegian National Library, and Rick Watson of the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin for their help in facilitating research.
Without the assistance of these individuals and institutions, this article could not have been written.
(1) Stannard, Martin. Evelyn Waugh: The Later Years. New York: Norton, 1992. 200-01. Hereafter "Stannard II."
(2) Most of these Danish editions were published during the Nazi occupation, and one wonders how the rights and royalties were worked out by Waugh's British agents during that period. One result, however, may have been the accumulation of unspent royalties in Denmark, as mentioned by Martin Stannard (supra.).
(3) EW to A. D. Peters (hereafter "ADP"). Unpublished APCI, dated 13 February 1948. ADP Collection, Evelyn Waugh Papers. Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas Austin; hereafter "HRC."
(4) This is the version collected in Essays, Articles and Reviews. Donat Gallagher, ed. London: Metheun, 1983. 356. Hereafter EAR.
(5) Waugh, Evelyn. The Diaries of Evelyn Waugh. Michael Davie, ed. London: Weidenfeld, 1976. 696. Hereafter Diaries.
(6) Hereafter DN.
(7) Hereafter SD.
(8) Diaries, 686-88; Waugh, Evelyn. The Letters of Evelyn Waugh. Mark Amory, ed. London: Weidenfeld, 1980. 258. Hereafter Letters.
(9) Diaries, 688. Letters, 258.
(10) The story appeared in the VG issue of 26 August 1947, 8: "Evelyn Waugh endelig pa norsk" ("Evelyn Waugh is Finally in Norway"). VG had the second largest circulation in Norway at the time of Waugh's visit and is still published today.
(11) In Norwegian, this refers to a quick, superficial visit.
(12) The news conference seems to have been conducted in a restaurant in the Vigeland Park following his visit to the artistic exhibits. The Aftenposten article refers to Waugh sitting at a table in a restaurant with a book about Vigeland in front of him.
(13) The correct date is 1930.
(14) Diaries, 688. It is somewhat surprising that Waugh took so little interest in Undset (1882-1949). Her novels were popular and had already been translated widely when she converted to Roman Catholicism in 1924. She wrote several novels on Catholic themes as well as saints' lives after her conversion and won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1928 (apparently on the basis of her pre-conversion fiction).
(15) Unpublished and undated letter (ALS) on stationery of the Grand Hotel, Oslo, recently sold at auction. (Forum Auctions, London, 30 March 2017, Lot 206; viewed online, 31 December 2018.)
(16) Letters, 458; Diaries, 688.
(17) Berlingske Tidende (30 August 1947, 5) and Nationaltidende (30 August 1947, 5) reported that Waugh likened Hollywood personalities to bank assistants: small, worried and boring.
(18) In Berlingske Tidende this point was somewhat elaborated as Waugh explained that he disliked Disney's blending in Song of the South of his brilliant cartoon characters with the Technicolor live-action footage. Disney cited the cost savings, but Waugh felt it was regrettable ("Jammerskade"). Svend Kragh-Jacobson, "Mine Personers Opforsel forbloffer mig meget ofte;" "My People's Behavior Often Amazes Me." Berlingske Tidende, 30 August 1947, 5.
(19) In Nationaltidende, it was reported that Waugh also mentioned meeting the Danish artist Kay Neilsen, whom he remembered from her illustrations of his childhood edition of Han Christian Andersen, and noted that she was now working for Disney. ("Hollywood er befolket af kedelige Bankfolk;" "Hollywood Is Populated by Boring Bankers." Nationaltidende, 30 August 1947, 5.)
(20) EW to ADP, unpublished ALS, dated 10 September 1947; HRC.
(21) EW to ADP, unpublished ALS, dated 14 September 1947; HRC.
(22) EW to ADP, unpublished ALS dated 28 October 1947; HRC.
(23) EW to ADP, unpublished ANS, 3 November 1947; HRC.
(24) Both reprinted in EAR.
(25) Daily Telegraph, "Scandinavia Today: Letter to the Editor," 15 November 1947, 2.
(26) Daily Telegraph, "To the Editor," Bernaud, H. C. 18 November 1947, 4.
(27) Cablegrams between Harold Matson and ADP, 11/12 November 1947; HRC. This Week was a national Sunday newspaper insert. In the 1950s, it was distributed nationwide. A New York area edition was carried in the Herald Tribune, apparently with some separate editorial content. The story also appeared a few weeks later in the Milwaukee Journal (13 February 1948).
(28) The opening and most of the closing paragraphs of the original first article and several paragraphs discussing Norway near the beginning were deleted from the US edition. Oddly, the Herald Tribune also added a sentence in the first part (7) referring to a Danish "quarrel with America about Greenland" that does not appear in the DT version. The contents of the second article, which Waugh had thought the better, largely survived in Herald Tribune / This Week without alteration.
(29) A. Grunewald, Bookman Literary Agency, Copenhagen, to ADP, unpublished TLS, dated 15 December 1947; HRC.
(30) The Aftenposten article opens with the statement that the DT story "continues [Waugh's] articles from his visit to Scandinavia this summer. This time he comes closer to political and cultural conditions." There is no reference to an earlier Aftenposten summary of the first article.
(31) Folkhemmet is a loaded word in Swedish with considerable political meaning. It refers to the Swedish political program of the 20th century by which everybody should have an equal chance at a comfortable, middle-class life, that is, with a house or apartment, nicely furnished, and with all the amenities, as well as schools, medical care, and shopping. Those were the very features of Swedish life Waugh found objectionable.
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|Title Annotation:||Evelyn Waugh and Aldous Huxley|
|Publication:||Evelyn Waugh Studies|
|Date:||Mar 22, 2019|
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