Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Divinity Denied Earthly Prizes

Eveyln Waugh, despairing over the absolute refusal of literary critics of his day to consider theological books to be eligible for awards and prizes, writes...

There we have the progressive cat, a great brute of an animal, clear out of the bag. One would have supposed that there are few drearier spectacles than a critic who could not write. But like a trade union official who has lost productive dexterity, he must be accepted as part of the industry.

But Divinity, the Queen of Sciences, the mainspring and deep abiding channel of human thought; the branch of writing which, at its lowest, is first in the English tradition from the start of our tongue until the death of our grandparents which filled our libraries with homilies and controversy, and occupied the sharpest minds of every age, which even today is second, I believe, for quantity in all branches of publishing, and for quality commands the deepest intellects and the sharpest wits; the science which deals with the purpose and destination of the spirit of man - that, compared with a literary critic who can't express himself, is merely something 'specialized'.

Dear ladies and gentlemen of the Third Programme, words fail me.

(Source: The Essays, Articles and Reviews of Evelyn Waugh. 1983. Little, Brown and Company)