Evelyn Waugh

Literary Birthday – 28 October – Evelyn Waugh

Evelyn Waugh was born 28 October 1903, and died 10 April 1966.

Evelyn Waugh Quotes

  1. One forgets words as one forgets names. One’s vocabulary needs constant fertilising or it will die.
  2. Some people think in pictures, some in ideas. I think entirely in words.
  3. I should like to bury something precious in every place where I’ve been happy and then, when I’m old and ugly and miserable, I could come back and dig it up and remember.
  4. Only when one has lost all curiosity about the future has one reached the age to write an autobiography.
  5. An artist must be a reactionary. He has to stand out against the tenor of the age and not go flopping along.
  6. Don’t analyse yourself. Give the relevant facts and let your readers make their own judgements. Stick to your story. It is not the most important subject in history but it is one about which you are uniquely qualified to speak.
  7. One can write, think and pray exclusively of others; dreams are all egocentric.
  8. I put the words down and push them a bit.
  9. The trouble with modern education is you never know how ignorant people are. With anyone over fifty you can be fairly confident what’s been taught and what’s been left out. But these young people have such an intelligent, knowledgeable surface, and then the crust suddenly breaks and you look down into depths of confusion you didn’t know existed.
  10. Sometimes, I feel the past and the future pressing so hard on either side that there’s no room for the present at all.
  11. There are no poetic ideas; only poetic utterances.
  12. I used to have a rule when I reviewed books as a young man never to give an unfavourable notice to a book I hadn’t read. I find even this simple rule is flagrantly broken now.
  13. The necessary elements of style are lucidity, elegance, and individuality; these three qualities combine to form a preservative which ensures the nearest approximation to permanence in the fugitive art of letters.
  14. Properly understood, style is not a seductive decoration added to a functional structure; it is of the essence of a work of art.
  15. Novel-writing is a highly skilled and laborious trade. One does not just sit behind a screen jotting down other people’s conversation. One has for one’s raw material every single thing one has ever seen or heard or felt, and one has to go over that vast, smouldering rubbish-heap of experience, half stifled by fumes and dust, scraping and delving until one finds a few discarded valuables. Then one has to assemble these tarnished and dented fragments, polish them, set them in order, and try to make a coherent and significant arrangement of them.
  16. It is a curious thing… that every creed promises a paradise which will be absolutely uninhabitable for anyone of civilised taste.

Evelyn Waugh was an English author, born into a family of publishers and writers. Waugh’s first book, A Life of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, was published in 1928. Soon afterwards his first novel, Decline and Fall, appeared and his career was sensationally launched. Notable works include Brideshead Revisited and A Handful of Dust. Waugh wrote 15 novels and several acclaimed travel books, two additional biographies, and an autobiography, A Little Learning.

Source for image.


Carl Van Vechten (1880–1964), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 28th October 2012