An Odd Couple: Galbraith & Waugh
April 1989By John C. Cort
Lately Ive been communing with two men I greatly admire: John Kenneth Galbraith and Evelyn Waugh. Somebody gave my wife a copy of Galbraiths Annals of an Abiding Liberal (1979) and I discovered that Galbraith had a somewhat reluctant but fervent admiration for the writings of Evelyn Waugh in general and his Diaries (1976) in particular.
Although Waughs opinions on almost every subject, including religion, appalled him, Galbraith could not stop himself from loving Waughs style. He writes:
Social purpose is not Waughs claim to accomplishment the thought alone is slightly bizarre. His claim, even when telling of aristocratic nonentities, drugs or drunkenness, is in the way he tells it. Many have said it before: there was not in our time, perhaps in our century, such a master of the craft.This is high praise, coming as it does from perhaps the most stylish economist of our century. True, Galbraith seems to be most delighted by Waughs gift for abuse. Waugh was indeed a masterful character assassin. I remember meeting him at a party in New York and having a pleasant conversation during which I said, From reading your books I expected you to be cold and caustic and Im glad to find you are not. He said, Dont be deceived. These are my party manners. I am beastly cold and caustic.
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