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Michael Lindsay Hogg: Inside the Making of Brideshead Revisited, the Original British TV Obsession.

Orwell, Waugh and Religion

Evelyn Waugh was one of the first readers to realize what was wrong with Orwell's novel and, after finishing this depressing book, thought that his friend deserved a sermon:

The book failed to make my flesh creep as presumably you intended. For one thing I think your metaphysics are wrong. You deny the soul's existence (at least Winston does) and can only contrast matter with reason and will. It is now apparent that matter can control reason and will under certain conditions. So you are left with nothing but matter.... I think it possible that in 1984 we shall be living in conditions rather like those you show. But what makes your version spurious to me is the disappearance of the Church. I wrote of you once that you seemed unaware of its existence now when it is everywhere manifest. Disregard all the supernatural implications if you like, but you must admit its unique character as a social & historical institution. I believe it is inextinguishable, though of course it can be extinguished in a certain place for a certain time. Even that is rarer than you might think.

'One cannot be really a Catholic & grown-up,' wrote Orwell among his notes for an essay that he was preparing on, precisely, Evelyn Waugh. These few words were his commentary on Lord Marchmain's religious conversion at the end of Brideshead Revisited.

Bias blinded Orwell to any possibility of the Church's survival. The revival of religion, at the very least as a powerful factor in the cause of freedom and human dignity, would have left him stunned: Poland, the Philippines, Central America.... Had Orwell lived another 30 years, would he have written Homage to Poland? In that country, he would have seen a people whose heroic struggle for freedom and justice is largely sustained by the Creed of the Catholic Church. Perhaps Orwell would have had to remember what Evelyn Waugh said in his letter: 'Men who love a crucified God need never think of torture as all-powerful.'

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Title Annotation:OED Declares "Brideshead" an Adjective
Publication:Evelyn Waugh Studies
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 22, 2019
Previous Article:Britain's Best Picnic Spots (Violet Hudson in Spectator Life, 30 May 2019).
Next Article:Brexit and the Afterlife of Satire: Evelyn Waugh, a Fictive Seer.

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