October 14, 2008

Waugh in the new Paris Review Interviews

Interviewer: Have you found any professional criticism of your work illuminating or helpful? Edmund Wilson, for example?

Waugh: Is he American?

Interviewer: Yes.

Waugh: I don't think what they have to say is of much interest, do you? I think the general state of reviewing in England is contemptible -- both slovenly and ostentatious. I used to have a rule when I reviewed books as a young man never to give an unfavorable notice to a book I hadn't read. I find even this simple rule is flagrantly broken now. Naturally I abhor the Cambridge movement of criticism, with its horror of elegance and its members mutually encouraging uncouth writing. Otherwise, I am pleased if my friends like my books.