Evelyn Waugh (b. October 28): “An artist must be a reactionary” & other quotes on writing

28 Oct

waughEvelyn Waugh (born 28 October 1903, died 10 April 1966) was an English author, born into a family of publishers and writers. Waugh’s first book, A Life of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, was published in 1928. Soon afterwards his first novel, Decline and Fall, appeared and his career was sensationally launched. Evelyn Waugh wrote 15 novels and several acclaimed travel books, two additional biographies, and an autobiography, A Little Learning

Quotes on writing:

  1. I put words down and push them around a bit.
  2. There are no poetic ideas, only poetic utterances.
  3. Some people think in pictures, some in ideas. I think entirely in words. 
  4. One forgets words as one forgets names. One’s vocabulary needs constant fertilizing or it will die.
  5. An artist must be a reactionary. He has to stand out against the tenor of the age and not go flopping along.
  6. Only when one has lost all curiosity about the future has one reached the age to write an autobiography.
  7. Sometimes, I feel the past and the future pressing so hard on either side that there’s no room for the present at all.
  8. I should like to bury something precious in every place where I’ve been happy and then, when I’m old and ugly and miserable, I could come back and dig it up and remember.
  9. 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. 
  10. Don’t analyse yourself. Give the relevant facts and let your readers make their own judgments. Stick to your story. It is not the most important subject in history but it is one about which you are uniquely qualified to speak.

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