Thursday, June 28, 2007

Vile Body

Anthony Lane, writing in The New Yorker, on the creature/novelist Evelyn Waugh:

In July, 1956, Evelyn Waugh gave a dinner party for his daughter Teresa. In anticipation of the event, he wrote to a friend, Brian Franks, with a description of the menu, closing with the words “Non Vintage champagne for all but me.” Rarely has an edict been issued with such a firm smack of the lips, yet nothing could be sadder. At Oxford in the nineteen-twenties, Waugh had chosen his friends on the basis of their ability to handle, or entertainingly mishandle, the effects of alcohol; “an excess of wine nauseated him and this made an insurmountable barrier between us,” he wrote of one college acquaintance. Now, thirty years later, he would sit in solitude, grasping his glass, bullishly proud that there was nobody present who deserved to share a drop. The hint is clear enough: Waugh, and Waugh alone, was of vintage stuff.

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