Alexander Waugh

The 75th anniversary of Brideshead Revisited

42 min listen

In this week’s Book Club podcast we’re talking about Brideshead Revisited. Evelyn Waugh’s great novel is 75 years old this week, and I’m joined by our chief critic Philip Hensher, and by the novelist’s grandson (and general editor of Oxford University Press’s complete Evelyn Waugh) Alexander Waugh. What made the novel so pivotal in Waugh’s

Eat the forbidden fruit

Eating human brains, burying one’s face in dead people’s ashes and publicly deriding the president of the United States as a ‘piece of shit’ are not among the activities usually associated with serious religious historians. But Reza Aslan is something else. An American academic born in Iran, brought up as a Muslim, converted to Jesus

Shakespeare with or without the waffle

30-Second Shakespeare: 50 key aspects of his works, life and legacy, each explained in half a minute sounds trivial, but it isn’t. The purpose of this short, beautifully presented and fully illustrated guide is not to feed vain show-offs with sound-bites to give them something clever to say at dinner parties but, as Ros Barber

A plague of infinities

Stephen Hawking is the most distinguished living physicist, who despite the catastrophe of motor neurone disease has been twice married, is a bestselling author and a media super-star. He is blessed with an extraordinary intellectual energy and fearless resilience. One might also add chutzpah. In The Grand Design he aims to give a concise and

Insufficiently honoured here

‘Next time it’s full buggery!’ said Christopher Hitchens as I helped him onto a train at Taunton station after a full luncheon of Black Label, Romanée-Conti, eel risotto and suckling pig. ‘Next time it’s full buggery!’ said Christopher Hitchens as I helped him onto a train at Taunton station after a full luncheon of Black

Housing estates are killing our countryside

The government says that 240,000 new homes a year are needed in England, but it’s a lie, says Alexander Waugh, evidenced by every estate agent’s window in the country. This policy means that government and developers win, while communities and the country lose How do you describe your sexual orientation? Please tick: Bisexual, Gay, Heterosexual,

Will he, won’t He?

Ararat by Frank Westerman, translated by Sam Garrett Who was Noah? The Bible tells us little. He was the flood hero of course, but what else? A drunken viniculturist who lived to the age of 950; who was 600 at the time of the flood and 500 when he fathered Shem, Ham and Japheth. His

An exception to most rules

Waiting for the second volume of a good biography is a painful process. I feel very sorry for anyone who read Brian McGuinness’s excellent Young Ludwig (part one of the life of Wittgenstein) when it was published in 1988. The philosopher’s exciting story broke off in 1921 and fans have been left dangling ever since

The book that didn’t make the short list

Listing page content here The councils of the early Christian Church were not always agreeable occasions. The bishops quarrelled terribly, at times getting so angry with one another as to clash in frenzied battles of ripped clothes, flying fists, blood and broken noses on the council chamber floor. Of all the issues that most inflamed

By guess and by God

It takes pluck to write about the historical Jesus, not just because doing so always stirs the wrath of hot-headed Christians but because there is not a single ‘fact’ relating to Jesus’s life that cannot be fiercely disputed according to any objective interpretation of the available evidence. Take, for instance, the supposed year of his

Diary – 3 June 2005

Am I losing my puissance or has something gone disastrously awry with the nation’s young women? It used to be at this time of year — just as the sun started to shine and the first green blob of plum showed itself upon the twig — that they put away their shapeless cold-weather clothes in

To battle with Sir Baldwin

With a little genealogical effort over three million people in this country can trace their ancestry back to a 15th- century hero called Sir Baldwin Fulford, and his luscious wife, Elizabeth Bozom, daughter of Sir John Bozom of Bozom-zeal. According to our old books of blazons Sir Baldwin was ‘a great soldier and a traveller