“Their Wives and Their Wealth Have Made Them So Mute”: Reading Waugh’s biographies of Campion & Knox

Recently finished Two Lives, which encloses in one volume Evelyn Waugh's biographies of St Edmund Campion, a martyr of the English Reformation, and Ronald Knox, a semirandom priest. You should absolutely read the Campion biography. It's passionate and the prose hangs in garlands, with thorns tipped in blood. It isn't swoony or silly (like the sentence I just wrote), it isn't sentimental or polemical although this is Waugh so he does stick a shiv in occasionally; in general it's crisp and acrid, … [Read more...]

“Corruptible Crown”: I review “King Charles III”

at First Things:The most reactionary thing about King Charles III, the modern Shakespeare pastiche playing through March 18 at the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, DC, is that nobody kneels to the king. Charles, written by Mike Bartlett and directed by David Muse, takes place in the near future, between the obsequies for Queen Elizabeth II and the coronation of her successor. Bartlett imagines a Prince of Wales who has been unwittingly training himself for dictatorial self-assertion. His … [Read more...]

Taking the Rough with the Smooch: Movie notes

A couple quick hits before we move to our main event, viz. a trip back in time to Gay 1986.Habit: Do you like artsy bisexual '90s vampire movies, but found Nadja too cold, The Addiction too smart, and everybody too good-looking? Boy do I have a film for you. Habit follows a startlingly disheveled and run-down dropout type (writer/director/star Larry Fessenden) as he meets a cute early-'90s chick at a party and begins to wonder why people are disappearing. The direction is really sharp--the … [Read more...]

“The Queen of Bliss and of Beauty”: A Candlemas Carol

I'm telling you, ClerkOfOxford is twitter mvp. Follow her! February 2 is Candlemas, the Feast of the Purification, so here's a medieval Candlemas carol.Revertere, revertere, The queen of bliss and of beauty.Behold what life that we run in, Frail to fall and ever like to sin Through our enemy's enticing; Therefore we sing and cry to thee: Revertere, revertere, The queen of bliss and of beauty. more! … [Read more...]

“The New Ruling Class”: Helen Andrews

on the beginning and middle of the meritocratic era: Last fall, Toby Young did something ironic. Toby is the son of Michael Young, the British sociologist and Labour life peer whose 1958 satire The Rise of the Meritocracy has been credited with coining the term. Toby has become an education reformer in his own right, as founder of the West London Free School, after a celebrated career as a journalist and memoirist (How to Lose Friends and Alienate People). In September, he published an … [Read more...]

Bluff Your Way Out of the European Economic Community

Or, What did Brexit look like in 1988?Months ago, in the halcyon days of May, I was browsing the cheap shelves at Second Story when I came upon Bluff Your Way in the EEC. This is part of the Bluffer's Guide series, overgrown pamphlets designed to teach '80s people how to pretend they understand things like Philosophy, Accountancy, Feminism, Jazz, Japan, The Occult, and "Hi-Fi" (??). I grabbed this thing and a saint-of-the-day guide from I think the early '70s, which turned out to be a really … [Read more...]

“To Paradise, By Way of Kensal Green”: I review “The English Way”

for the University Bookman. Papist polemics, monks with painted eyelids, "apostolic viragoes" and more! You might expect a book called The English Way: Studies in English Sanctity from Bede to Newman, compiled under the reign of King George V, to rustle through the fingers like a necklace of finely-wrought gold. You might expect serenity, monumentality, harmony: a peaceable parade of right little, tight little saints.You might expect that, anyway, if you don’t remember much about English h … [Read more...]