Martin Stannard is a professor of modern English literature at the University of Leicester, where he has taught since 1979. He was previously Leverhulme Research Fellow in English Literature at the University of Edinburgh. He is the author of Muriel Spark: The Biography, Evelyn Waugh, The Early Years: 1903-1939 and Evelyn Waugh, The Later Years: 1939-1966, and editor of Evelyn Waugh, The Critical Heritage. His many articles and reviews have appeared in Modern Language Review, Essays in Criticism, the New York Times Book Review, the Times Higher Education Supplement, and Novel, among other publications.
This second volume, which completes Stannard's life of one of the most important writers of the 20th century (begun with Evelyn Waugh: The Early Years, 1903-1939 , LJ 4/1/87), starts with Waugh's military service and ends with his death. It is a thoughtful, intelligent, fair, well-written, thoroughly researched study that draws extensively on unpublished sources. Stannard is honest yet sympathetic in describing this brilliant but often unlikable man who was tormented by fear of failure, professionally and socially. A devout Catholic who was generous to those in need, Waugh was also an elitist who found it difficult to like people. Stannard describes the circumstances of the writing, the publication, and the reception of Waugh's works of this period and provides perceptive, intelligent analysis of his own. Highly recommended.-- Judy Mimken, Saginaw Valley State Univ., Mich.
Readers who have been eagerly awaiting the second and concluding volume of Stannard's biography of British writer Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966) will not be disappointed. As exhaustively detailed as Evelyn Waugh: The Early Years, this study deals with Waugh in middle age, from his undistinguished experience as an army officer during WW II through the writing of some of his best-known works: Brides head Revisited (1945), The Loved One (1948) and The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold (1957). Relying on letters and other primary sources, Stannard gives us insight into Waugh's life as a husband and father. He treated his understanding and resilient second wife, Laura, with neglect and dictatorial disregard for her feelings. His children took second place to his self-absorption, although his guilt over his personal failures was severe. He remained a committed Roman Catholic, frequently exhorting his friends to follow his example. An excellent portrait of a selfish, reactionary snob who was redeemed by his talent, his self-awareness and his frequent bursts of charity. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Sept.)