Guaranteed to Increase Evelyn Waugh's Popularity

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Particularly among the ladies. I laughed out loud when I first read this because of the non sequitur and needlessness of the final line. I think misogynist is the word one might use, except that Mr. Waugh didn't particularly LIKE anyone. So he was an equal-opportunity disdainer. Note the source.

from Msgr. Ronald Knox
Evelyn Waugh

At the time there was a limited but eager public for these puzzles. Fashion has turned from them, as from acrostics. When they come back into fashion, Ronald's stories, because of their austerity, may seem less dated than those of his more romantic and dramatic rivals. None was more ingenious than he, more scrupulous in the provision of clues, more logically complete in his solutions. Very few women have ever enjoyed them.

Add to that the fact that Mr. Knox's mysteries are, quite simply, not enjoyable. There isn't so much as a thread of personality on which to hand a hope of a real story--you get in essence the outline of a mystery with the skeleton fully exposed. Mr. Waugh's prediction is sadly unrealistic. And his venom gratuitous. Nevertheless, I think it was the shock of juxtaposition that forced a guffaw out of me. And then gave me pause, because I certainly fall into the class of those who cannot read Mr. Knox's mysteries with any pleasure at all. If I'm to read fiction by clergy, I'll hold with Robert Hugh Benson's wonderful novels. You want to read some good stuff try The Necromancers or Lord of the World.

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Hmm. Lord of the World just seemed too paranoid for my taste.

Dear Jack,

I found it as entertaining and as true in its own way as 1984 another great work of "paranoid" fiction, I suppose. That said, there are times in which the paranoid appeals, and other times in which the misanthropic may have its appeal, but so far for me, not time in which the skeletal puzzles of Ronald Knox have any appeal.





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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on February 17, 2005 8:11 AM.

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