Ponderings of a Fictional Fop

Ambrose Silk, September 1939:

It is a curious thing, he thought, that every creed promises a paradise which will be absolutely uninhabitable for anyone of civilized taste. Nanny told me of a Heaven that was full of angels playing harps; the Communists tell me of an earth full of leisured and contented factory hands. . . . . Religion is acceptable in its destructive phase: the desert monks carving up that humbug Hypatia, the anarchist gangs roasting the monks in Spain. Hellfire sermons in the chapels; soap-box orators screaming their envy of the rich. Hell is all right. The human mind is inspired enough when it comes to inventing horrors; it is when it tries to invent a heaven that it shows itself cloddish. But Limbo is the place. In Limbo one has natural happiness without the beatific vision; no harps; no communal order; but wine and conversation and imperfect, various humanity. Limbo for the unbaptized, for the pious heathen, the sincere sceptic.

(Evelyn Waugh, Put Out More Flags, Chapter I.7)

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2 Responses to Ponderings of a Fictional Fop

  1. Alfred M. Kriman says:

    Duh. Misspelled my own name.

  2. Alferd M. Kriman says:

    It’s been a while since I read Put Out More Flags, but from what I can recall, the contrarian and cynical attitudes expressed in it are meant to be regarded as satire. It is difficult to satirize selfish cynicism well, since the satire partakes of cynicism. Anyway, Waugh’s own participation in WWII suggests that his protagonist’s evasion of wartime service, hence also the quoted views, are not presented for approval.

    That’s why the mention of Limbo is curious. Evelyn Waugh converted to Catholicism in 1930. (That’s the same year he divorced his first wife Evelyn — a close call: even as it was, it took a while to get an annulment.) Limbo is (or was until very recently) one Catholic view not shared by the Church of England. Eventually, so I read, the increasing Catholic-polemical content in his novels started to draw criticism. Anyway, something interesting might be going on here with Limbo.

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