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Confessing Compassion: Waugh's Penitential Performance in Sword of Honour.

The primary obstacle to straightforward autobiography is not the
fallibility of memory but the difficulty of confronting the moral
consequences of one's actions.
Sex, Lies, and Autobiography: The Ethics of Confession

Our religion is not simply the avoiding of evil; rather does it present
the positive character of a system of love.
Conscience and Confession

EVELYN WAUGH's The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold (1957) openly advertised itself as a tale from the author's life. As a prefatory note confided, "Three years ago Mr. Waugh suffered a brief bout of hallucination closely resembling what is here described." (1) Thus cued, critics have been "prompt to treat the book as a confession rather than a novel." (2) On this view, the voices that torment Pinfold are penitential "externalizations of [Waugh's] own self-hatred." (3) Yet Pinfold, restored to lucidity, asks why, if his conscience were the source of the voices' charges, he did not prepare a more devastating indictment: "I mean to say... I could make a far blacker and more plausible case than they ever did." (4) As I have argued elsewhere, this unanswered question works to subvert the assumption that this tale is an exercise in self-accusation. The novel neither depicts Pinfold's confession nor enacts Waugh's own. What it exposes is the falseness of critics' stock reprobation of Waugh's putative sins. No humble penance, Ordeal is a sustained critique of the damning fiction of Waugh that reviewers had substituted for evaluation of his art. (5)

Yet Waugh's postwar oeuvre does feature an act of novelistic contrition, namely in the World War II trilogy redacted and issued in a single volume as Sword of Honour (1965). While Sykes claims the autobiographical element in Waugh's fiction grew "ever smaller as he matured," (6) I hold that it is in this final fiction that he makes his most personal literary confession. For it is here that he most openly admits to sins against his faith, particularly to his having put first the war effort, and then his writing, ahead of the Christian call to service. If Sword's confession has received less attention than Ordeal's, this is perhaps because its rehearsal of autobiographical error is no more straightforward than my first epigraph would suggest. Though Foucault defines confession as "a ritual of discourse in which the speaking subject is also the subject of the statement," (7) this is obviously not how fictional acts of authorial confession operate, least of all in a novel that eschews the equation of writer and hero that Ordeal mischievously invites. Instead, Sword makes its most specific confessions indirectly, using minor characters esteemed by protagonist Guy Crouchback, but ultimately condemned by the narrative, to atone for failures of Christian charity definitive of Waugh's own war. Through the characters of Apthorpe and Ludovic, Waugh admits to having made idols out of the army and his art, respectively. If these characters' resemblance to the wartime Waugh and their exposure as frauds suggest penitence on his part, this is confirmed by Crouchback, who concludes his war by begging God's pardon for taking soldierly sins as his highest goods. Thus Waugh concludes his career not by confessing to crimes retailed by hostile reviewers, but by seeking atonement in a tale of compassion for what he saw as deadlier faults.

Based on Waugh's wartime service, Sword is "more closely autobiographical than any of his work to date." (8) Indeed, by so hewing to the facts of the author's life, this text pursues the kind of confession critics were quick to discern in Ordeal. As Patey remarks, Sword foregrounds the act of confession in a way no other Waugh text does. (9) Three times we follow Crouchback into the confessional: in Italy, before he heads home to England to enlist; (10) in Egypt, prior to his experience of defeat and dishonor at the fall of Crete (SH, 326-27); and in Yugoslavia, before his attempted rescue of Jewish refugees (597). In the trilogy as it was originally published, this meant that the sacrament, absent from other Waugh fictions, was prominently featured in each volume. Nor, I contend, is this an accident, but rather a clear statement of intent. Stannard asserts that the trilogy was "the nearest Waugh came to a public apology for his own selfishness." (11) This strikes me as largely true. Yet Waugh did not wish to atone there for his notorious rudeness or for the snobbery so often decried by critics, (12) but rather for the ways in which the war seduced him into a veneration, first, of martial honor, then of aesthetic virtue, that led him to betray his Christian duty of service to God and neighbor.

That Sword offers a chronicle of Waugh's own war is revealed by the ways in which Crouchback's career parallels that of his creator; as Rossi states, Guy is clearly "a stand-in... for Waugh himself." (13) Indeed, Waugh's preface to the single-volume recension blurs the line between fact and fiction, calling the book "a description of the Second World War as it was seen and experienced by a single, uncharacteristic Englishman" (SH, xxxiv). The simple past tense here suggests the atypical Englishman in question is not simply Crouchback, but Waugh himself. The narrative confirms as much. Like his creator, Guy is "thirty-five years old" at the start of the war (4), and like the Waugh who "felt drawn towards something substantially more active and exciting" than the Ministry of Information desk jobs favored by his literary peers, (14) Crouchback, too, seeks a fighting role in this struggle against "the Modern Age in arms" (SH, 4). Guy thinks of the war in such terms upon reading news of the Nazi-Soviet nonaggression pact, a union of godless states he cannot wait to oppose: "Whatever the outcome there was a place for him in that battle" (4). Waugh's diaries reveal a similar readiness for the long-presaged struggle against such foes: "There seems no reason why war should be delayed." (15) Like Waugh's service with the Marines and Robert Laycock's special forces, Guy's time with the Halberdiers and Commandos takes him first to Dakar, then to Crete, and finally to Yugoslavia. It leads him, too, on a journey of disillusionment, which works "the defeat of the romanticism Guy brought with him" into war. (16) Similarly, a once keen Waugh was soon describing battle as "confused & purposeless." (17) His war would conclude, like Guy's, with his finding purpose not in combat, but in charity, in working to "arrange for the evacuation of distressed jews [sic]." (18)

This last point casts doubt on Joseph Heller's rancorous claim that Sword "treat[s] matters that were of great significance to everyone as though they were of no significance to anyone." (19) If the technique of the novel does, as Trout shows, tend toward bathetic diminishment, (20) this does not mean its outlook is nihilistic; rather, its recourse to bathos serves its fundamentally faith-filled aims. The novel invites laughter at the folly of its characters, but the aim of such comedy is not to deny the moral significance of a war in which, Waugh's narrator observes, "the trains were, even... while the Halberdiers and their guests sat bemused by wine and harmony, rolling east and west with their doomed loads" (SH, 64). Indeed, certain characters are revealed as farcical or grotesque so as to underscore the culpability of such indifference, and to identify a deadly betrayal of moral purpose. That betrayal is not effected solely by national leaders or institutions. Its guilt touches individual characters who, by having their roots in Waugh's biography and becoming targets of scorn, constitute the trilogy's first gestures of authorial confession. Waugh's contrition, in other words, is enacted through literary doubles other than Crouchback himself. As Stopp demonstrates, this is a hallmark of Waugh's work; thus, Brideshead's Anthony Blanche and Sebastian Flyte both serve as doubles to different aspects of Waugh's own complex aesthetic sensibility, and not simply as portraits of Oxford classmates. (21) Patey sees such doubling as a governing trope in the trilogy; Men at Arms inaugurates a strategy of revealing Guy's moral state through doppelgangers "who embody his various illusions [and] dangerous tendencies." (22) Yet as Guy is so closely modelled on his creator, this deflationary use of doubles functions not just as a critique of their faults but as a confession of Waugh's own.

The first of these doubles is the ludicrous Apthorpe. That Apthorpe serves as an early mirror for Waugh's protagonist is made plain. When they both arrive at barracks with leg injuries, Guy laments they look absurdly "like a pair of twins" (SH, 84), an identity underscored by the narrator's later speaking of Apthorpe as Guy's "doppel-ganger" (92). Nor have critics overlooked this character's doubling role. (23) Davis insists that Apthorpe serves more specifically as an "unconscious parody of Guy's aspirations as a military man." (24) This seems to me correct. Apthorpe looms large in Guy's esteem, and declines ultimately for him and readers both to a figure of bathos, as he embodies a military ideal initially pursued by Crouchback and Waugh himself. Guy, as noted, wholeheartedly welcomes the war, as a chance to ride out against secular modernity, yes, but also as an occasion to put "eight years of shame and loneliness" behind him (SH, 4). Since his cuckolding, he has led an idle, expatriate life in Italy, bereft of kin, calling, and community. So absolute is his solitude that even local priests look upon his "habit of dry and negative chastity" with alarm (8). "Even in his religion," we read, "he felt no brotherhood" (8). The coming of war, then, brings a paradoxical "deep peace" to his heart (4), because it affords him the chance to return to England and to find, among her fighting men, that home, that family, that solidarity he's long lacked. Davis is thus right to note that "Guy's patriotism is stronger than his Catholicism." (25) Experiencing no communion even at Mass, Guy chases the hope that, by becoming a warrior, he will secure a community that will ransom him from eight years' mournful limbo.

It is in his seeming so perfect a model of the military man, so sure a path to acceptance by this longed-for community, that Apthorpe becomes for Guy a figure to emulate; indeed, it is by following Apthorpe's example that Guy first succeeds in joining the Halberdier family. Unable initially to return Major Tickeridge's toast--"Here's how" (SH, 29)--Guy is next presented in Apthorpe's company at the Halberdier mess offering Tickeridge just this salutation (33); Apthorpe seemingly transforms Guy into the soldier he has dreamed of becoming. This is, perhaps, unsurprising; at first glance, Apthorpe seems all that a regimental man should be. Of the temporary officers in training, "Apthorpe alone looked like a soldier. He was burly, tanned, moustached, primed with a rich vocabulary of military terms and abbreviations" (34). Later, he seems to fulfill the promise of such trappings, managing "very nicely" on the same firing range where a nearsighted Crouchback "put[s] up a very poor show" (90). So visibly qualified to play the role Guy covets, Apthorpe is, in Crouchback's eyes, "marked for early promotion" (36). And, despite his own disgrace at the shooting range, this faith in Apthorpe's virtue offers Guy newfound hope. As noted, he and Apthorpe are twins. Apthorpe, then, mirrors who Guy is and, by exemplifying those traits that will afford him the experience of communion he sorely lacks, suggests Guy may come to possess them himself. Apthorpe thus becomes an object of devotion and imitation: Guy cultivates a moustache after Apthorpe's example and acquires a monocle designed as much to effect a martial look as to correct his faulty vision (92).

Yet the trilogy's portrait of Guy's military idol serves also to present Apthorpe as an authorial confession. Sykes notes that Waugh's wartime diaries disclose no model for this character. (26) Indeed, the only appearance of the name outside the trilogy is in the 1919 journal of a schoolboy Waugh, who records being beaten out for library privileges by a rival named Apthorpe. (27) Yet a perusal of Waugh's wartime record nonetheless turns up an original for this comic figure: Waugh himself. Waugh was not simply infatuated by the pomp and peers he found in the Marines--"tolerable & tolerant company, wholly delightful routine," he wrote to Diana Cooper--but eager to take on an Apthorpean persona of his own. (28) As a fellow Marine, John St. John, reports, Waugh acquired in barracks "a new moustache, bristly and clipped short, which enhanced his choleric mien." (29) What's more, like Apthorpe to a besotted Guy, Waugh initially appeared to superiors a natural leader and a promising officer. (30) For this reason, he was to earn an honor that signally distinguishes Apthorpe in Sword. There, it is Apthorpe, not Guy, who is the first temporary officer to receive a command, becoming CO of HQ Company, with a regular officer as his second. This is universally regarded as a remarkable achievement: "No one except Apthorpe supposed he might get his own company at this early stage" (SH, 146). He is subsequently the first promoted to captain (153). In all of this, he mirrors not his twin, but his creator. In April of 1940, Waugh was made captain of D Company, the first temporary officer so elevated, a fact he proudly retailed to family and friends. (31) Indeed, according to St. John, Waugh took his new rank with utmost seriousness and "seemed to delight in aping Lord Cardigan." (32)

Thus, though Stannard insists Capt. Waugh "was no uniformed buffoon," (33) the self-portrait Waugh paints in Apthorpe suggests he came to agree with Piette that his military role was "little more than a complex joke." (34) Certainly, Apthorpe, Guy's admiration notwithstanding, is revealed to be a risible fraud. The fact that "there was about Apthorpe a sort of fundamental implausibility" is conveyed first by the needless lies that mark his self-presentation (SH, 94). Prostrated by obvious hangover, for instance, he insists he is down with "a touch of Bechuana tummy" (49); on his deathbed, he confesses to needlessly having fabricated an aunt in Peterborough (207). Indeed, the whole of his resume has been exaggerated, at best; his background is not, as he implies, that of an African backwoodsman, but of a bibulous office functionary for a tobacco company (265). Thus what Apthorpe represents, and Guy admires, is fundamentally spurious. But if his status as embodiment of Guy's military ideals is thus undercut, the fact that he is so clearly a stand-in for Waugh himself makes him also an exercise in keen self-criticism. Waugh, too, a writer at home at his desk and at clubs where drink flowed freely, was, as St. John notes, eager to play at being the imposing military man. Given command of a company, "he handled its members with contempt relieved only by avuncular patronage," becoming, among other things, superciliously strict about being saluted; (35) perhaps this accounts for reports that he was so hated by his men that they left five spaces between him and themselves at mess. (36)

If Waugh, having so invested in his own transformation into the warrior, thus became "a fatuous prig," (37) then Sword, and particularly the clownish Apthorpe, serve as his confession to such sins against humility and charity. Like Waugh, Captain Apthorpe begins demanding, contrary to Halberdier protocol, formal salutes from other temporary officers: "Yes, but don't you see that I am an exceptional case. There is no precedent for me in regimental customs" (SH, 155). Jealous of his rank and privileges, he "parade[s] his Halberdiers and [tells] them they [are] never to accept orders from anyone but himself " (160). Not content with terrorizing his men, Apthorpe routinely exceeds his command. Claiming authority over the brigade signallers, he launches a campaign against slovenly footwear that culminates in his destroying the boot of another officer's soldier (162). The sheer absurdity of his version of martial honor is perhaps nowhere better revealed than in his one real "battle," that waged against his brigadier for control of an illicit chemical toilet. Guy's exemplar of military virtue, Waugh's portrait of his own martial vanity, Apthorpe ends up fighting for nothing nobler than a water-closet and is reduced to a cartoonish punch line, "wearing his steel helmet, fumbling with his trouser buttons and gazing with dazed horror on the wreckage which lay all round" (138). If he thus becomes a figure of fun, it is because his substitution of haughty self-regard for comradeship is both dangerous and self-destructive. Apthorpe's delusions of grandeur spread strife and confusion, as when, "momentarily left in charge at Headquarters," he issues a statement identifying fog as an enemy attack "with arsenical smoke" that puts armed men perilously on edge (185). In the end, he falls victim to his own fabulation, made ill by his attempt to be the African bushman he never was and killed by his own never confessed dipsomania.

By so inserting himself, not simply as the protagonist, but as the clown of Sword's first act, Waugh offers a merciless portrait of his own readiness to welcome the horrors of war for a chance to play at commander, not neighbor. St. John is thus right to see here an exercise in public penance, "ridicul[ing] many of what must have been [Waugh's] own illusions." (38) Yet Apthorpe is not the only officer admired by Guy and expressive of authorial guilt. When Crouchback is dispatched to the Commandos, we meet the character of Ivor Claire. Though from the first presented more as sybarite than soldier--found "reclin[ing] on a sofa, his head enveloped in a turban of lint, his feet shod in narrow velvet slippers embroidered in gold" (SH, 255)--he nonetheless fills the void left by Apthorpe to become Guy's new measure of military honor. Ivor is a decorated soldier, recipient of the Military Cross, but the fact that he has won recognition "for shooting three territorials who were trying to swamp his boat" at the evacuation of Dunkirk raises doubts as to his valor and his concern for the wellbeing of anyone but himself (261). His record thus suggests a kinship with Guy's discredited first mentor, an intensification of Apthorpe's own egotism. Yet, aristocratic, unflappable, self-sufficient, this ostensibly proven warrior is all Guy wishes to fight for. He identifies with Claire's panache, convincing himself that they share "a common aloofness" (295), before proceeding to exalt Claire as definitive of that community he has embraced war in order to secure: "Ivor Claire ... was the fine flower of them all. He was quintessential England, the man Hitler had not taken into account" (318).

When, however, the scene shifts to the evacuation of Allied forces from Crete, the ruthless self-seeking hinted at by Claire's MC is laid bare. The last to arrive, Guy's Commandos are charged with guarding the seaborne retreat of other troops and surrendering to the advancing Germans. Claire commands the men who hold the ridge above the beaches of Sphakia, shielding the Allied departure. Yet, self-regarding as ever, Claire balks at the order to surrender that Guy delivers to him: "It doesn't make any sense, leaving the fighting forces behind and taking off the rabble" (420). Indeed, he speculates that solidarity and self-sacrifice will soon be militarily obsolete: "In the next war... I expect it will be quite honourable for officers to leave their men behind" (421). Claire we later learn has done just this, disregarded orders and abandoned his troops, opting "for desertion in the face of the enemy," in order to save his own life and liberty (436). Though Heinimann argues Claire's individualism is favorably contrasted to the rising collectivism of the war years, such that even this refusal of duty "becomes a moral and honorable act," (39) the text provides no warrant for such a reading. Stunned by Claire's treason and others' indifference, Guy realizes that the ideal he has taken Claire to be has never existed: "The man who had been his friend had proved to be an illusion" (SH, 439).

Ivor Claire thus plays an important part in Crouchback's coming to disavow the ethics of vainglory he has sought to live out through war. Yet whether he might be taken, like Apthorpe, to be a confession on the part of Evelyn Waugh is a more controverted question. While his effete, sultanesque figure meshes poorly with that of wartime Waugh, many have seen in Claire's flight a shamefaced rendering of Waugh's own departure, with commanding officer Robert Laycock and 200 other Commandos, from Crete in the small hours of June 1, 1941. Antony Beevor argues that Laycock, charged with defending the retreat, jumped the queue with his men and improperly embarked ahead of British Marines and the 2nd and 7th Australian Battalions. (40) Accusing Laycock of "arrogantly disregarding orders," Beevor seems to equate Claire with Waugh's CO, but further suggests that Claire and the tone of the trilogy both betray in Waugh himself "a streak of self-loathing" rooted in his part in this crime. (41) While many, following Beevor, have read Claire as Laycock and as a confession of Waugh's own sense of guilt in this matter, (42) Gallagher has presented evidence that raises doubts as to the Commandos' supposed misconduct. Making extensive use of military archives, he rebuts Beevor's charge-sheet point by point: "Laycock did have orders to leave Crete, he and his men did not have orders to remain in place until other fighting forces were 'safely away,' he did not take his men to the beach early." (43) Beevor's history of events works, in Gallagher's view, to "unjustly defame Laycock and Waugh," a judgement welcomed by other twenty-first century Waugh critics. (44)

But the evidence of Waugh's own pen is less self-exonerating. His memo on Crete states that Laycock was told by superiors, "You were the last to come so you will be the last to go," which is certainly not how things transpired. (45) Waugh later specifies Laycock was not charged, like Claire, with staying behind to surrender and indicates the Commandos' embarkation came amidst chaotic beach scenes in which any queue and all order had dissolved. (46) Whether this record is plain truth or, as Stannard suggests, doctored to mitigate the Commandos' guilt, the fact remains that Waugh would not only admit that Claire was Laycock, but suggest that his dishonor extended, through Guy, to Waugh himself. (47) In a diary entry written soon after the publication of Officers and Gentlemen, Waugh reports receiving a telegraph from Ann Fleming identifying Claire as Laycock, and so taking the volume's dedication to the latter to be ironic. Waugh replied that, should she publicize "this cruel fact," it would be the end of their friendship. (48) Further, the original version of the Cretan narrative published in Officers hints at a shameful lapse on Guy's part that the novel never identifies. On the morning of Claire's disappearance and his own more licit departure from Crete, Guy is described thus: "He had no clear apprehension that this was a fatal morning, that he was that day to resign an immeasurable piece of his manhood." (49) Both of these passages reveal that Waugh understood himself and Laycock to have been shamed by their Cretan escape, and indicate that his guilt is expressed in the trilogy through Claire and Guy both. But while some critics have thus taken Claire to be a vehicle for authorial confession, (50) this is a confession of an odd sort. Waugh, in his response to Fleming and in his dedication to a commander "that every man at arms should wish to be," clearly sought to suppress the fact that Claire's sins were Laycock's. (51) As for Guy's, and so his own, guilt, it is telling that the above passage from Officers is excised from the 1965 recension.

Certainly, there is an affinity between Claire's crimes and those to which Waugh more explicitly confesses in the figure of Apthorpe. Both Apthorpe and Claire are assured of their peerlessness and stop at nothing to secure their own advantage. Both are, despite their bedrock egotism, taken as models by a Guy who sees in them a path to a virile new identity. Though Apthorpe's vanity is farcical, and Ivor's more treacherous, they both underscore how misguided is Guy's attempt to save himself through martial self-assertion. However, Waugh's faith teaches that "sorrow for sin," though "the most indispensable of all the acts of the penitent," (52) is not in itself sufficient: "There can be no conversion until one acknowledges oneself a sinner." (53) While I maintain that such an acknowledgement of the sin of substituting vanity for Christian charity is clear in the figure of Apthorpe, Claire's deadlier enactment of this fault is as much disowned as confessed. To be sure, Claire indicts the officer class and the Commandos more generally, but the text works to distance his transgressions from Waugh's own. This does not, however, mean that Apthorpe is the only cruel self-portrait Waugh paints in Sword. If Apthorpe, and in his more subterranean way, Claire, may be read as mortifying penances for Waugh's own veneration of war, another character serves to confess his subsequent adoption of the idol of art in place of that of arms.

As VE Day dawned, Waugh looked back at opportunities the war had offered him for careers in public life and wrote, "I thank God to find myself still a writer." (54) Cured of "the illusion" that he was a man of action, Waugh returned, as war wound down, to the vocation of literature, exalting the supreme good of art. (55) Sword tracks this authorial transition, not through Guy, but through the character of Ludovic. For Sykes "possibly the most original of all Evelyn's many inventions," Ludovic, like Apthorpe, lacks any biographical original other than Waugh himself. (56) This might seem a suspect claim, as Ludovic's wartime record is far more nefarious than Waugh's own. Anticipating Claire, Ludovic is a deserter at Crete, and when his access to the beaches is blocked, commandeers his CO as a passport off the island, directing Major Hound to a cave from which he never emerges. When Guy later encounters Ludovic, he wears "the badges of a major" (SH, 424), and the "Synopsis of Preceding Volumes" published with 1960's Unconditional Surrender states that "It is to be supposed that Ludovic perpetrated or connived at [Hound's] murder" (665). Guy later recalls scenes, from their open-boat journey from Crete, of conflict between Ludovic and a sapper, who also mysteriously disappears one night (429-30). While such crimes outstrip anything Waugh could confess, it is worth noting how contiguous they are with those committed by the authorial doubles we have already considered. Like Apthorpe and Claire, Ludovic is moved wholly by self-interest. His egotism leads not just to behavior that is, like Apthorpe's, hostile to others, but to treachery deadly as Claire's. Ludovic only more obviously undertakes what, in the story of his MC, Claire can be supposed guilty of: the murder of his comrades. (57) He thus marks a culmination of these characters' shared self-regard in the literal annihilation of the other.

Apart from this affinity with other vehicles of writerly self-accusation, Ludovic also shares important ties with Waugh's alter ego, Guy Crouchback. As Patey notes, Ludovic mirrors Guy in multiple ways, not least by assuming ownership of Guy's Italian estate. (58) But suggestions of their twinning, and more specifically, of Ludovic's offering a dark parallel to Guy's narrative arc, are present from the outset. In the first of his journal entries, Ludovic writes: "Man is what he hates... Today I am Crouchback" (SH, 325). This passage not only asserts an identity between the two, but names the substance of this sameness. It is hatred, not charity or even admiration, which allows Ludovic to become Crouchback, indicating the extent to which Guy's search for salvation through war has disordered his own aspirations, making antipathy his good. "Godless" Ludovic might seem an imperfect reflection of Catholic Guy, but the aphorist's very lack of faith establishes parallels between them (428). His wartime diaries outline an ethos not simply of enmity, but of emptiness. Noting that his is the age of purges, Ludovic articulates a nihilism that is both descriptive and prescriptive: "Cultivate the abhorred vacuum. The earth is the Lord's and the emptiness thereof" (360). This philosophy fosters in him, his self-regard notwithstanding, a death wish that nearly yields his suicide on Crete (424). Both this wish and the indifference that feeds it are definitive of Guy in Sword's latter half. Once the zealous crusader, Guy, after Crete, tells his father, "I don't think I'm interested in victory now" (451), and later confesses to an Italian priest his longing for death (597). Thus, though in many ways quite different, Guy and Ludovic are, in Moran's words, "alike in their withdrawal," a withdrawal from conviction and communion into the self. (59)

Ludovic's retreat into solitude, however, shares something with his creator that Guy's own lacks; attempting to flee his bloody past, Ludovic escapes into the sanctuary of literature. Despite his apparent cold-bloodedness, Ludovic is haunted by his sins: "There was a week in the mountains, two days in a cave, a particular night in an open boat... of which he never spoke" (SH, 472). When Guy is assigned to his training center, Ludovic is horror-struck by the coming of this comrade who, even if himself unaware of them, recalls to Ludovic crimes he seeks to forget. But, faithless as he is, there is for Ludovic no absolution but that which he can contrive for himself. This he undertakes with the pastime that has always distinguished him, taking up the literary word, as Guy has taken to war, as his means of redemption. Ever more withdrawn, but with his wartime epigrams feted in the pages of literary journals, Ludovic pledges himself to his art: "The further he removed from human society and the less he attended to human speech, the more did words, printed and written, occupy his mind" (473). Indeed, he becomes "an addict of that potent intoxicant, the English language" (473), seized by a new reverence and a new prodigality. His dictionary and thesaurus become "sacred scriptures" (519), and he is "possessed, the mere amanuensis of some power, not himself " (589), that produces a novel "twice the length of Ulysses," entitled The DeathWish (628). While his ecstasy fails to quiet his conscience--"the Drowned Sailor motif " and "the Cave image" haunt his Pensees (485), and he bequeaths to his Pekinese Hound's nickname, Fido (see 378, 551)--Ludovic nonetheless models a striking substitution of art for faith.

As such, Ludovic becomes "a tool with which to confess and exorcise ... [Waugh's] own misguided tendencies," particularly as regards his writerly vocation. (60) In his composition of The Death Wish, Ludovic becomes, as critics have remarked, a parodic stand-in for the Waugh who turned to writing the watershed of Brideshead Revisited at war's end. (61) As Patey notes, Ludovic's tome "is transparently a pastiche of Brideshead." (62) Nothing like the arch aphorisms that first win him acclaim, his novel is a "gorgeous, almost gaudy, tale of romance and high drama" (SH, 613). Culminating in the death of "Lady Marmaduke" (614), this lachrymose saga is judged "egregiously bad" by Ludovic's initial champions (628), yet makes its author's fortune by selling "nearly a million copies in America" (662). If all this recalls Waugh's Lord Marchmain and company, it should; parallels between Waugh's career bestseller and Ludovic's mocked masterpiece abound. Like The Death Wish, Brideshead marked a sharp departure from Waugh's prior, more satirical, literary practice, one that, he wrote, "lost me such esteem as I once enjoyed among my contemporaries." (63) Like Ludovic's opus, it was begun late in the war and written in furious haste. Waugh's diary from February 1944 reports his writing 3000 words in as little as three hours; (64) by March he had 33,000 words of a novel he declared his "sole interest." (65) As Ludovic completes his manuscript in June of 1944 (SH, 613), so Waugh would mail off all but the epilogue of Brideshead on D-Day. (66) Finally, just as Ludovic's text "seemed to him perfect" (SH, 613), so the manuscript Waugh dubbed "magnum opus" (67) would, on publication, become the "book which I regard as my first important one." (68)

Thus, as Sword itself testifies, Ludovic is not alone in his devotion to overwrought fiction: "Half a dozen other English writers, averting themselves sickly from privations of war [were] composing books which would turn from the drab alleys of the thirties into the odorous gardens of a recent past transformed and illuminated by disordered memory" (SH, 613). As the parallels noted above indicate, Waugh counted himself among this half-dozen. Despite his initial confidence in Brideshead's excellence, he soon recoiled from its excesses; understandable during wartime austerity, they "wont [sic] do for peace-time," he concludes in a 1950 letter to Graham Greene. (69) As he states in the preface to his 1960 revision, Brideshead is "infused with a kind of gluttony, for food and wine, for the splendours of the recent past, and for rhetorical and ornamental language," which he now finds "distasteful." (70) Waugh, then, was ready to own and atone for Brideshead's artistic sins, and its cruel parody in Ludovic's Death Wish was one way for him to make amends. But Waugh understood the failings he lampooned in The Death Wish to have their roots in deadlier faults, which Ludovic serves to expose. The author of Pensees achieves financial success and aesthetic ruin by making letters his religion. This obsession with words themselves, over and above communion with others or with God, hobbles his art and leaves unmended his maimed murderer's soul. In his zeal for the art of writing, he remains, significantly, "unshriven" (SH, 473). As his thankfulness for remaining a writer suggests, Waugh, with Brideshead, would likewise turn literature into an escape from the disappointments of war. Moreover, he became preoccupied with style as the chief justification for literary art, declaring in his 1944 diaries that, "English writers, at forty, either set about prophesying or acquiring style. Thank God I think I am beginning to acquire a style." (71) This preference for formal felicity over spiritual evangelism resounds even a decade later in an essay declaring style to be "the essence of a work of art." (72)

Thus, while he forecast in 1946 a novelistic output marked "by a preoccupation with style and the attempt to represent man... in his relation to God," Waugh would veer at war's end toward making of style a good to rival God, a turn which Ludovic serves to confess and repudiate as perilously un-Christian. (73) Guy's doubles thus become self-mocking mirrors for Waugh himself. Through them, he confesses not simply his wartime foibles, but what he depicts as a misguided adoption of idols that directed his efforts away from proper devotion to God and Christian service. In his own embrace first of war, and then of the ivory tower of his art, Waugh came for a time to venerate self-assertion and writerly self-sufficiency in place of Christ and His call to love of God and neighbor. Through such figures as Apthorpe and Ludovic, Waugh reveals the folly of such pursuits, just as Guy's own eventual unease with such figures works to indict any admiration for the different forms of selfishness these foils embody. But while Sword's doppelgangers permit precise instances of authorial self-accusation, the trilogy's larger gestures towards repentance are to be found in the development of Guy himself. As Stannard astutely writes, Waugh, in Sword, is "writing about the supplication for Grace through humility." (74) This he does, above all, by using serial confessions to chart the acedia that engenders Guy's worship of false idols and his return, through disillusion, loss, and penitent self-appraisal, to prayerful petition before God and selfless charity toward others.

Waugh held to the catechetical conviction that "Man is made for the knowledge of God and for no other purpose." (75) Yet those sins he embodies in Apthorpe and Ludovic constitute his confession that he, like Guy, has made more selfish ends his wartime aims. The damage such self-seeking does to Guy's ability to live a Christian life is made plain in his own confessions. While typically reticent in depicting characters' recourse to the sacraments, (76) Waugh repeatedly has us follow Guy into the confessional. What this discloses is a protagonist alienated not simply from God and neighbor, but from himself. Indeed, Guy's dutiful requests for absolution only reveal how hobbled by sin he is, illustrating Jean-Nesmy's claim that, "our sin involves a loss not of merit only, but also of vitality." (77) Thus, during his first confession, made before his return to England, Guy speaks to the priest in Italian, precisely because his limited facility in this adopted language makes certain topics inexpressible: "There was no risk of going deeper than the denunciation of his few infractions of the law... Into that wasteland where his soul languished he need not, could not, enter. He had no words to describe it" (SH, 6). We have seen how Guy, at the outset, is divorced from his neighbours, how "on the lowest, as on the highest plane, there was no sympathy between him and his fellow men" (8). This confession, by design incomplete, establishes a still more radical failure of communion. Hiding behind his linguistic shield, Guy ruptures his relationship with the God whose pardon he ostensibly seeks in the very act of petitioning for it. By his refusal to speak his spiritual malaise, he both sidesteps and perpetuates the deadly sin of sloth, cutting himself off from the grace this sacrament offers. There is in this performance of reconciliation a refusal of truth and conversion that only exacerbates his sinful state. Guy's confession, then, works to diagnose, but not to mend that distance from God and man that bears noxious fruit in his emulation of Apthorpe and Ludovic.

Guy's second confession, offered prior to the Commandos' departure for Crete, is a similarly suspect exercise. Kneeling in the confessional, Guy "kn[ows] what he ha[s] to say" (SH, 327), but what this is, and whether he ever says it, is left unclear. His confessor "seem[s] to shrug off the triviality" of what Guy actually confesses (327), suggesting that he has no more here than in Italy ventured into his personal wasteland. Indeed, having granted Guy absolution, this priest, the seal of confession lifted, begins interrogating Guy, not on mortal sins left undisclosed, but on the plans of the English forces. This works to cast a pall on both sides of this confession. Just as Guy's own unrepentant state can yield nothing but an invalid confession, so the war he has, in this state, welcomed makes his confessor as much an enemy as Christ's agent of mercy: "There were priests in France working for the allies. Why not a priest in Egypt [?]" (328). Again, Guy's attempt to access grace through the sacrament serves only to crystallize the extent to which he has chosen war at the expense of proper devotion and brotherhood. If, after the fiasco at Crete, he understands himself "back after less than two years' pilgrimage in a Holy Land of illusion in the old ambiguous world, where priests were spies and gallant friends proved traitors" (440), Guy's altered view of his moral duty is again conveyed by way of his penitential acts. In a third confession, Guy attempts, for the first time, to speak and to judge the listlessness that has long gripped his soul and has, in fact, fed his eagerness for battle, his readiness to be "cannon-fodder" (15). The chief fault he confesses is his "wish to die... almost all the time" (597). Disowning the sin of despair, he accuses himself instead of "presumption," judging himself not the model soldier he once dreamed of being, but someone not yet "fit to die" (597).

If such scenes represent Waugh's own confession of Apthorpe's or Ludovic's brand of selfishness, the trilogy indicates, through Guy, what a proper penance would entail. Disenchanted by the war his desire for self-aggrandizement has urged him to, Guy comes increasingly to understand his need to confess, but also his need thereby to acknowledge his dependence on God and his duty to others. By moving toward truly petitioning God for pardon, Guy comes finally to be guided by Christian compassion. (78) Indeed, it is a rediscovery of humility before God that proves central to his spiritual conversion. Key to this process is the example, not of another parodic twin, but of the Christian life of his father. Mr. Crouchback, "the best man, the only entirely good man," Guy has known (SH, 499), proves his goodness by preaching a gospel of generous service in place of Guy's quest for military glory. Defending the Vatican against Guy's charge of capitulation in the Lateran Treaty, Mr. Crouchback insists, "Quantitative judgements don't apply. If only one soul was saved that is full compensation for any amount of loss of 'face'" (453). While his words call Guy to a readiness for selfless sacrifice, Mr. Crouchback's death moves his son even more profoundly to surrender himself to God. Where once he sought, even in the confessional, to distance himself from his Creator, Guy now sees, through his father's teachings, his need for divine direction. Reflecting on his standard prayers, Guy understands their poverty in terms that tie it to his idolization of the military: "He reported for duty saying to God: 'I don't ask anything from you. I am here if you want me'" (500). While this might sound like humility, it strikes Guy in his grief as hubris, the presumption that, however God might need him, he has nothing to seek from God. From this perspective, he sees the misdirection of all his martial zeal: "Enthusiasm and activity were not enough. God required more than that. He had commanded all men to ask" (500). Struck by this realization, Guy for the first time becomes a humble petitioner, praying that God vouchsafe him some service, worthier than his vain crusading, that he might perform in true piety.

From this recognition of his faults, then, Guy moves to true contrition and reform. His reward is two chances to lose face by extending compassion to others. The first of these comes courtesy of his exwife Virginia--more specifically, in the person of her unborn child. Fruit of a regretted dalliance with a man Guy despises, this child has escaped the abortionist only due to the vagaries of wartime London. Homeless, penniless, Virginia throws herself on Guy's mercy and finds in him a provider for herself, and a father and a faith for her son. While he knows this remarriage is "something they'll laugh about" at his club (580), Guy nonetheless understands it as his Christian duty: "This is just one case where I can help. And only I, really. I was Virginia's last resort. So I couldn't do anything else" (580). Once he receives his final posting in Yugoslavia, Guy encounters another such case in the plight of 108 Jewish refugees. Moved by their precarious situation among hostile Partisan forces, Guy senses "that here again, in a world of hate and waste, he [is] being offered the chance of doing a single small act to redeem the times" (617). Having achieved conversion, Guy, restored to relationship with God, is capable of extending charity, not conflict, toward others; more, he can see in his past devotion to war a participation in "a world of hate and waste," rather than in that world's redemption. While his efforts are, in this case, defeated--the refugees are reinterned in Italy, two of them executed because of their dealings with him--Guy's conduct expresses Waugh's own commitment to the inherent value of charitable action, his confession that we are called to ask and serve, not to withdraw into self-seeking fantasy. (79)

Again, the confessional character of Guy's rehabilitation through Christian service is revealed by the way it echoes the final act of Waugh's own war. Like Guy, he found himself part of a Yugoslav mission that delighted him by "consist[ing] solely in doing good[:] distribut[ing] food to the needy" and dispensing aid. (80) But the tale of the two executed refugees serves to underline not just Guy's, but Waugh's own, readiness to confess and repent the selfishness that Sword's doubles have indicated lay at the heart of the writer's war. As Patey argues, Guy's many confessions culminate in a penitential act undertaken not for a priest, but before the doomed Mme. Kanyi. (81) Spokesperson for the beleaguered Jews, victim of war's suspicious perversion of Guy's charity, she encounters Crouchback on the eve of his departure from Yugoslavia and expresses skepticism that any relocation of her people might constitute deliverance. Questioning whether there is anywhere a sanctuary free from evil, she describes for Guy what she takes to be this war's seeds in a widespread longing for conflict. In the lead-up to 1939, she explains, "there was a will to war, a death wish, everywhere. Even good men thought their private honour would be satisfied by war. They could assert their manhood by killing and being killed. They would accept hardships in recompense for having been selfish and lazy" (SH, 655-56). Insisting she has known such men in Italy, she asks Guy whether there were none among the English. His response is the bluntest of all his confessions: "'God forgive me,' said Guy. 'I was one of them'" (656).

Heinimann justly dubs this "the climax of the ethical quest of Sword of Honour." (82) Certainly, it is the novel's surest instance of a full and good confession. Even more than in his accusing himself of presumption, Guy here recognizes his sin, the grave culpability of the petty vanity that has guided his love of war. As Stannard rightly notes, Mme. Kanyi here "rewrite[s] Guy's life as a history of egotism." (83) Confronted by the unflattering looking glass of her words, he for the first time prays for God's pardon, as at the same time, he begs for hers. Guy has, prior to this, forsaken his fantasies of preeminence among a regimental fraternity or of Ludovic-like retreat from a world of hate and waste; he has turned in humility to ask God for guidance and given himself to charitable service. But this is the first time Guy has precisely identified, admitted, and asked to be forgiven for, his gravest sin, the egotism that has left his soul to languish and happily welcomed history's bloodiest war as balm. But his own Church teaches, "No sin is ever forgiven so long as the sinner clings to it. He must repent and humbly beg God's pardon." (84) This Guy finally does before God and neighbor both, and by so doing, he brings this profoundly penitential tale to its conclusion: the very next sentence informs readers he has now "come to the end of [his] crusade" (SH, 656). Yet, with so many parallels between Guy's and his author's war, this climactic confession clearly concludes a penance that indicts more than a fictional character. Wykes calls Guy's prayer for pardon "the most telling sentence that Waugh ever wrote"; (85) this strikes me as perfectly correct. At the end of his novel-writing career, looking back on his ardent embrace of ends that led him away from his Christian duty, Waugh uses his art not, as in Ordeal, to confound presumptuous accusers, but to enable an act of self-exposure, to name and atone for his own gravest sins, in art and war, against his faith. If Crabbe is right in viewing the trilogy as "the story of Guy's spiritual progress from exile to participating member of the faith," (86) then this healing pilgrimage is made possible only by its ultimately confessional character and extends, through the completion of arguably his greatest work, to the character and aspirations of Waugh himself.


(1.) Evelyn Waugh, The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold: A Conversation Piece (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1979), n.p.

(2.) Douglas Lane Patey, The Life of Evelyn Waugh: A Critical Biography (Oxford: Blackwell, 2001), 339.

(3.) R. Neill Johnson. "Shadowed by the Gaze: Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies and The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold," Modern Language Review 91, no. 1 (1996): 17.

(4.) Waugh, Ordeal, 229.

(5.) For a fuller elaboration of this argument, see D. Marcel DeCoste, "Contested Confessions: The Sins of the Press and Evelyn Waugh's False Penance in The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold," Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture 21, no. 3 (2018): 64-81.

(6.) Christopher Sykes, Evelyn Waugh: A Biography (Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 1982): 128.

(7.) Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality, Volume I: An Introduction, trans. Robert Hurley (New York: Vintage, 1980), 61.

(8.) Philip Eade, Evelyn Waugh: A Life Revisited (New York: Henry Holt, 2016), 291.

(9.) Patey, Life of Evelyn Waugh, 351.

(10.) Evelyn Waugh, Sword of Honour (London: Penguin, 2001), 5-6 (hereafter cited in text as SH).

(11.) Martin Stannard, Evelyn Waugh: The LaterYears 1939-1966 (New York: Norton, 1992), 443.

(12.) Denunciations of Waugh's infatuation with the aristocracy became ritual in responses to his work with the 1945 publication of Brideshead Revisited. Reviewing that novel, Henry Reed decried its "overpowering snobbishness" (Martin Stannard, ed. Evelyn Waugh: The Critical Heritage. [London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1984], 239), and Conor Cruise O'Brien derided its "veneration of the upper classes" (Stannard, Critical, 258). Frank Kermode in 1960 bemoans Brideshead's equation of the English peerage and the Catholic Church (Stannard, Critical, 286), while Michael Gorra, fully thirty years later, speaks of its "odd fusion of Debrett and divinity" (The English Novel at Midcentury: From the Leaning Tower. [Houndsmills: Macmillan, 1990], 188). This tack became standard in reviews of all Waugh's later fiction. Thus John Raymond, reviewing Men at Arms, decries its "huge prep school conspiracy of the faithful" (Stannard, Critical, 339), and Philip Toynbee would dismiss Unconditional Surrender as a tale in which "almost everyone is odious except for a few members of old and dignified Catholic families" (Stannard, Critical, 436).

(13.) John Rossi, "Evelyn Waugh's Neglected Masterpiece," Contemporary Review 281, no. 1642 (2002): 296-300.

(14.) Eade, EvelynWaugh, 215.

(15.) Evelyn Waugh, The Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, ed. Michael Davie (Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 1979), 437.

(16.) David Heinimann, "An Ethical Critique of Waugh's Guy Crouchback," Renascence 46, no. 3 (1999): 178.

(17.) Evelyn Waugh, The Letters of Evelyn Waugh, ed. Mark Amory (New Haven, CT: Ticknor and Fields, 1980), 153.

(18.) Ibid., 187. See Sword, 601-59. Such parallels between author and protagonist abound. As Christopher Hitchens notes, they share "the same day, month, and year of birth" ("The Permanent Adolescent," Atlantic Monthly 291.4 [May 2003]: 115). Crouchback's tale also incorporates a number of specific incidents from Waugh's wartime service. Just as his participation in a botched raid on Dakar makes an appearance in the trilogy, so, Ann Pasternak Slater argues, does a subsequent fiasco at Bardia, and Waugh's article on the event for Life, become the model for Trimmer's "Operation Popgun" and its propagandistic write-up by Ian Kilbannock (Ann Pasternak Slater, Evelyn Waugh: The Writer and His Work, [Tavistock: Northcote House, 2016: 160]; see Sword, 345-55). Guy reports a priest in Egypt who betrays too keen an interest in the plans of English forces (Sword, 326-27; 344-45), just as Waugh himself would relate having had such a confessor arrested (Letters, 151). Finally, Guy shares with his creator not just the exhilaration of parachute training--Waugh called his first drop "the keenest pleasure I remember" (Diaries, 556)--but the leg injury that concludes it (Diaries, 556; Sword, 533-34).

(19.) Stannard, Critical Heritage, 443.

(20.) Steven Trout, "Miniaturization and Anticlimax in Evelyn Waugh's Sword of Honour," Twentieth Century Literature 43, no. 2 (1997): 128.

(21.) Frederick J. Stopp, Evelyn Waugh: Portrait of an Artist (London: Chapman and Hall, 1958), 123.

(22.) Patey, Life of Evelyn Waugh, 306.

(23.) Katharyn W. Crabbe, Evelyn Waugh (New York: Continuum, 1988), 141, and Jeffrey Heath, The Picturesque Prison: Evelyn Waugh and His Writing, (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's UP, 1982), 223. See also Stopp, Evelyn Waugh, 162 and Patey, Life, 306.

(24.) Robert Murray Davis, Evelyn Waugh, Writer (Norman, OK: Pilgrim Books, 1981), 238.

(25.) Ibid., 255.

(26.) Sykes, Evelyn Waugh, 280.

(27.) Waugh, Diaries, 21.

(28.) Waugh, Letters, 131.

(29.) John St. John, To theWar with Waugh (London: Whittington Press, 1973), 19.

(30.) Stannard, Later Years, 12.

(31.) Ibid., 9.

(32.) St. John, To the War, 24.

(33.) Stannard, Later Years, 27.

(34.) Adam Piette, Imagination at War: British Fiction and Poetry, 1939-1945 (London: Macmillan, 1995), 85.

(35.) St. John, To the War, 24.

(36.) Douglas Woodruff, "Judge and Jury Must Decide," in Evelyn Waugh and His World, ed. David Pryce-Jones (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1973), 123.

(37.) Stannard, Later Years, 27.

(38.) St. John, To the War, 55.

(39.) Heinimann, "Ethical Critique," 180.

(40.) Antony Beevor, Crete: The Battle and the Resistance (London: John Murray, 2005), 220.

(41.) Ibid., 221, 223.

(42.) See, for example, David Wykes Evelyn Waugh: A Literary Life (Houndmills: Macmillan, 1999), 130, Stannard, Later Years, 37-38, and Alan Munton, "Evelyn Waugh's Sword of Honour: The Invention of Disillusion," in Waugh without End: New Trends in Evelyn Waugh Studies, ed Carlos Villar Flor and Robert Murray Davis (Bern: Peter Lang, 2005), 241. Even the typically sympathetic Patey takes this view, concluding Laycock "disregarded orders rather than be captured, and Waugh (albeit under orders) had been complicitous in concealing the fact" (188).

(43.) Donat Gallagher, "Guy Crouchback's Disillusion: Crete Beevor, and the Soviet Alliance in Sword of Honour," in A Handful of Mischief: New Essays on Evelyn Waugh, ed. Donat Gallagher, Ann Pasternak Slater, and John H. Wilson (Madison, WI: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2011), 194.

(44.) Ibid., 176. See, e.g., Eade, Evelyn Waugh, 234, and Slater, Evelyn Waugh, 179.

(45.) Waugh, Diaries, 507.

(46.) Ibid., 509.

(47.) Stannard, Later Years, 38.

(48.) Waugh, Diaries, 728.

(49.) Evelyn Waugh, Officers and Gentlemen (London: Chapman and Hall, 1955), 296.

(50.) Wykes reads Claire's desertion as a camouflaged confession of Waugh's agreeing to Laycock's shameful queue-jumping at Sphakia (Wykes, Evelyn Waugh, 184).

(51.) Waugh, Officers, n.p.

(52.) Leonard Geddes and Herbert Thurston, The Catholic Church and Confession (London: Burns, Oates and Wishbourne, 1928), 61.

(53.) Ibid., 96.

(54.) Waugh, Diaries, 627.

(55.) Ibid., 548.

(56.) Sykes, Evelyn Waugh, 559.

(57.) Ludovic's ties to Claire are several. First, he is promoted by Claire (SH, 324). Despite

(57.) Ludovic's ties to Claire are several. First, he is promoted by Claire (SH, 324). Despite his murders of Hound and the nameless sapper, he is, a la Claire, decorated for his actions (472). Finally, like Claire (255), Ludovic comes to lavish what love he's capable of upon a cherished Pekinese (551).

(58.) Patey, Life, 354. Crabbe concurs, treating Ludovic as the major doppelganger of the trilogy's third act (145-46).

(59.) Andrew Moran, "Evelyn Waugh's Commedia: Sword of Honour as an Epic Response to James Joyce," Literary Imagination 18, no. 3 (2016): 281.

(60.) Patey, Life, 355.

(61.) Michael G. Brennan, Evelyn Waugh: Fictions, Faith and Family (London: Bloomsbury, 2013), 127. See also Wykes, Evelyn Waugh, 206; Davis, Evelyn Waugh, Writer, 311; and Slater, Evelyn Waugh, 255.

(62.) Patey, Life, 243.

(63.) Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited: The Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder (London: Penguin, 2003), 7.

(64.) Waugh, Diaries, 558.

(65.) Ibid., 559.

(66.) Waugh, Diaries, 567-68.

(67.) Waugh, Letters, 189.

(68.) Ibid., 195.

(69.) Waugh, Letters, 322.

(70.) Waugh, Brideshead, 7.

(71.) Waugh, Diaries, 560.

(72.) Evelyn Waugh, The Essays, Articles and Reviews of Evelyn Waugh, ed. Donat Gallagher (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1984), 478.

(73.) Ibid., 302.

(74.) Stannard, LaterYears, 432.

(75.) Waugh, Essays, 387.

(76.) Brideshead never details protagonist Charles Ryder's catechesis or confirmation. Helena (1950) likewise elides its saintly heroine's baptism, a move that has prompted much criticism. Friend Nancy Mitford complained, "It's a pity you don't tell about the conversion" (in Charlotte Mosley, ed., The Letters of Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh [London: Penguin, 2000], 205). See also A. A. DeVitis, Roman Holiday: The Catholic Novels of Evelyn Waugh (New York: Bookman Associates, 1956), 66, and Wykes, EvelynWaugh, 160.

(77.) Jean-Nesmy, Claude. Conscience and Confession, trans. Malachy Carroll (Chicago: Franciscan Herald Press, 1965), 140.

(78.) Guy is moved to an earlier humane gesture by his faith and not by regimental traditions or tactical concerns. While on Crete, Guy is recalled by the dead body of a Catholic British soldier to the teachings of his Church and to actions aimed at something other than self-preservation. "To bury the dead is one of the corporal works of charity," he reflects, before praying for the soul of this slain coreligionist and taking his identity disk so that his family might know his fate (SH, 406). While this last gesture is thwarted by others' treachery, Guy's action reveals a nobility in him that his soldiering has done nothing to disclose.

(79.) Such a perspective is earlier established by Mr. Crouchback's claim that "quantitative judgements don't apply," as well as by the untarnished good will of Guy's frustrated act of mercy for the family of the fallen British soldier. It is even more explicit in Waugh's first rendering of his Yugoslav experiences, the 1949 story, "Compassion." There Major Gordon asks his chaplain what was the point of his charitable acts if they only led to the Kanyis' murder, only to be assured, first, that what he did was good in itself--"You mustn't judge actions by their apparent success" (Evelyn Waugh,, "Compassion" in The Complete Short Stories, ed. Ann Pasternak Slater. [New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1998], 440)--and second, that even his failure to secure their welfare has surely done his soul good.

(80.) Waugh, Letters, 197.

(81.) Patey, Life, 351.

(82.) Heinimann, "Ethical Critique," 183.

(83.) Stannard, Later Years, 443.

(84.) Geddes and Thurston, The Catholic Church and Confession, 17.

(85.) Wykes, Evelyn Waugh, 202.

(86.) Crabbe, Evelyn Waugh, 140.
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Author:DeCoste, D. Marcel
Publication:Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture
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Date:Jun 22, 2019
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