Mathew Walther has a great piece up at The Week about Evelyn Waugh fanatics. It’s worth a read in full, but here is how he identifies the Waughian Set.
The Waughian wears tweed jackets, often if not always ill fitting. He smokes a pipe or one of the expensive additive-free brands of cigarette. He drinks gin and, partly out of spite for craft-beer nerds, Miller Lite. He is a Catholic but has vaguely romantic feelings about English church architecture and says “Holy Ghost” instead of “Holy Spirit.” He insists that the Church has been in a crisis since the Second Vatican Council and the introduction of the new liturgy. He rides a bicycle, or at least owns one, and rails against the iniquities of the automobile. He loathes democracy and longs for the restoration of the Stuarts to the English throne. Insofar as he has any opinions about contemporary American politics he loathes the GOP and has a a tendency to romanticize marginal quixotic figures in the Democratic Party
The description is prescient, but I have a few slight, alternative proposals. Here are some thoughts towards helping you identify a Waugh Fanatic in the wild.
- Politically, I suspect they’ve now moved well beyond any American categories into vaguely Rerum Novarum influenced reveries. They wax nostalgic about feudalism, village commons, and throw around the word solidarity with reckless abandon.
- They’re obsessed with Leo XIII but probably have more in common with Leo X.
Whit Stillman is easily their favorite movie director and they may talk to you at length about Metropolitan. Be prepared for this. They eschew primary sources and will talk to you about whether Stillman’s view of Jane Austen is accurate but probably have not actually read an Austen novel.
- They drink gin, yes, but be particularly wary of the Waugh fanatics who are so far gone as to actually prepare and consume Pink Gin on a regular basis. This is not a beverage fit for human consumption outside of certain older gentlemen within the confines of the Yale Club who have built up their tolerance to it over many years.
- Seeing modern art sends them into convulsions and they immediately demand to be taken outside to sit in the garden for some fresh air and a cigarette.
- They do have a propensity for tweed, but fit is actually more important than the physical condition of the jacket. The jacket itself may very well be in tatters.
- They have a horror of modern technology and pretend that it is intolerable.
- They proudly put forth that they have no morals, but in reality adhere strictly to the dogmas of the Catholic Church.
- Jeremy Irons is their favorite actor, but David Niven is a close second.
What say you? What other marks are there by which may identify a Waugh Fanatic?