Cultural Revolutions

Auberon Waugh, R.I.P.

The death in January of the British journalist (and Chronicles contributor) occasioned a startling outpouring of grief. The Daily Telegraph of London weighed in with five pages, and that was just on the next day. Every one of Waugh's many admirers was permitted a remembrance—even in newspapers he had ridiculed, such as the Observer and the Guardian. The coverage was so effusive that Waugh's friends were embarrassed. His longtime editor Richard Ingrams pronounced it "fulsome," and novelist A.N. Wilson chided, "Gush, gush."

American coverage was more restrained. The New York Times printed a first-rate obituary, while the Washington Post's was a disgrace. Waugh's passing went unnoted on the websites of the American Spectator and National Review, although he had contributed to both publications. Their neglect was understandable; Waugh had been a stalwart cold warrior, but after communism's collapse, he became an enemy of American cultural imperialism. He had kind words for Pat Buchanan, and—like all good people—was scathing in his denunciation of the war on Serbia.

Waugh's reputation in America, to the extent that he had one, was of a minor novelist who abandoned that profession when he realized he would always be a footnote to his great father, Evelyn Waugh. In Britain, however, he was more...

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