Sunday, January 21, 2007

Me and Guy Crouchback

In my post-blogging life, I've been doing a lot of things. Lots of reading and writing. Most of the reading has been tedious, and most of the writing has been stuff that I pray will be put in a file drawer and never looked at again. I've had a fair bit of housework, too, which has kept me from doing too much reading for pleasure.

One thing I did pick up, though, was Evelyn Waugh's (perhaps most underrated) novels, Men at Arms, Officers and Gentlemen, and The End of the Battle, known as the Sword of Honour trilogy. Great read, I tell you. Great read.

If you haven't read Waugh, don't start with Brideshead Revisited. Save that one for later; the more you know Waugh, the more you'll appreciate Brideshead. My suggestion is that you start where Waugh started, Decline and Fall. A hilarious book, wherein you see Waugh's wit and style first emerge. Once you've done Decline and Fall, then you can move into the headier books. I'd read a couple more, though, before I hit Sword of Honour or Brideshead. Save A Handful of Dust and The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold until after Sword of Honour or Brideshead. They're downers. I would recommend that you also save Helena for later, because while it's certainly not a downer, I think you have to be familiar with Waugh to appreciate the way he applies the early stamp of 20th century British society to the late Roman Empire. Next comes Waugh's non-fiction. Perhaps because of my lack of enthusiasm for modern-day Jesuits, I haven't read Campion (no, I've got nothing against the old Jesuits). However, a friend just read it and it was highly recommended.


PS, "But Curmudgeon, it's been two months! Why won't you complain for us?" Ok, in my stealing time here and there to read, I picked up a belated Christmas gift, Frank Sheed's Theology and Sanity. Although I'm just a little ways into it, I thought, "Hey,. I wonder what they're up to at Frank's publishing house, Sheed & Ward, these days?

So I looked 'em up. And after I read the "About Us" page, I didn't go any further:

A Brief History of Sheed & Ward Book Publishing

Founded in 1926 by Australian lawyer Francis Joseph Sheed and his British wife Maisie Ward, Sheed & Ward is one of the most eminent Catholic publishing houses in the world today. In its now 77-year old history, Sheed & Ward have published some of the most prominent names in Catholic thought, including Hans Kung, John Courtney Murray, Edward Schillebeeckx, Dororthy Day, Clare Boothe Luce, Jacques Maritain, Francois Mauriac, G.K. Chesterton, and Paul Claudel. In recent years, Sheed & Ward have published some of the most important contemporary Catholic and Christian writers from both North America and Europe, including Daniel Berrigan,
Andrew Greeley, Rowan Williams, Joan Chittister, Michael Walsh, and Daniel Harrington.

Currently under the ownership of Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., Sheed & Ward are continuing its founders' original vision
and expanding it to meet the challenges of the publishing world of the 21st century. Drawing both from the storied tradition begun by Frank Sheed and Maisie Ward in 1926 and innovative strategies to bring the company forward, the young, dynamic Sheed & Ward team are committed to being the preeminent publishers of Catholic writing in the English-speaking world.

If only they published Rembert Weakland and Richard O'Brien, they'd have it made, eh?


Patrick Kinsale said...

Waugh's The Loved One is a short, funny recreational read also.

And then there are his other books, especially his bios of St. Edmund Campion and Ronald Knox.

Anonymous said...

Hooray! Welcome back! I really enjoyed Brideshead Revisited. My son left the Sword of Honor Trilogy behind when he was home from the seminary over Christmas. He highly recommended it, also. Can't wait to get some of my other reading finished so I can begin it.
God bless

Curmudgeon said...

Yes, The Loved One is a riot. I did forget to mention that this was my third time through the Sword of Honour trilogy. Each time has been more enjoyable. Unlike Brideshead which is overtly Catholic, the war novels are more discretely so, and for that, perhaps (in some ways) more so.

Patrick Kinsale said...

Another frustration, Curmy: Just as Sheed and Ward's booklist has become emasculated, so too has the old Doubleday Image paperback series, which was so wonderful back in the day.

Sean Roberts said...

The Sword of Honor Trilogy is my all time fave... I've read it through several times and it gets better each trip through.

Interestingly, there are several textual differences between the individually published novels available in the U.S. and the omnibus edition. Waugh made many changes to the novels in their U.S. editions that were never incorporated into the U.K. editions which are used in the omnibus. A striking example can be found in the final chapter, "Festival of Britain", in Unconditional Surrender.

Dust I Am said...

I didn't know the new Sheed & Ward publishing company is dervish dancing on the grave of their founder.

Dr. Malcolm C. Harris, Sr. said...

Frank Sheed explained that Vatican II did in Sheed and Ward. They sold it to Doubleday. It was acquired by a group in Kansas City. Then their KC neighbor the National Catholic Reporter bought the imprint. How it got from there to Rowman and Littlefield, I do not know.

Very sad.