Liturgical Conservatism and the Modern Novel: The greatest Catholic writers of the 20th century drew on the deep riches of the liturgy to speak to the secular age. (Roy Peachey, October 29, 2023, European Conservative)
The conservatism of some of the greatest Catholic writers of the 20th century has often baffled, and sometimes enraged, their literary critics, with Evelyn Waugh and J. R. R. Tolkien in particular coming under sustained attack. Writing in The Guardian, for example, Damien Walter complained that “Tolkien’s myths are profoundly conservative” and so aren’t to be trusted. Maybe Sauron wasn’t evil at all: “Isn’t it more likely that the orcs, who live in dire poverty, actually support Sauron because he represents the liberal forces of science and industrialisation, in the face of a brutally oppressive conservative social order?” As for the dragons, “a balanced telling might well have shown Smaug to be much more of a reforming force in the valley of Dale.” Evelyn Waugh has been similarly chastised. One critic protested his “excessive conservatism” and another, clearly irritated by The Sword of Honour’s critical success, argued that it was a triumph only “for pessimism and conservatism.” Writing in the New Statesman recently, Will Lloyd could not hide his exasperation: “Why the passing decades cannot diminish him ought to trouble our creaking, secular, liberal age.” Well, quite.
Timelessness provides longevity: shocking, eh?