Studying great writers: Waugh, Wodehouse and Alan Clark

Picture of Leigh Turner
Leigh Turner

You can improve your writing, and your quality of life, by studying great writers.  Read actively and keep a note of what strikes you.

Do any of our actions make any difference to anything?  What makes us happy?  Why do we laugh?  What about the power of memory?

This week’s quotations look at all these issues.  The scandalous Alan Clark, whose remarkable and disturbing diaries I have reviewed, clearly thought that sexual activity was keeping him young.  Evelyn Waugh, in his elegiac Brideshead Revisited, blows us away with his reminiscences.  PG Wodehouse, on whom I blog frequently, is the one of the best comic writers on earth.  Lawrence Durrell, meanwhile, is sceptical that any of our lives achieve anything.  I disagree!

Robert Pimm

Personally, I am a strong believer that our lives can make a difference

Studying great writers – 4 quotations

Alan Clark

Why am I still, in the main, so zestful?

I know, but I don’t like to say

In case the gods take it away.

Alan Clark, The Diaries

Evelyn Waugh

I was always given the room I had on my first visit; it was next to Sebastian’s, and we shared what had once been a dressing-room and had been changed to a bathroom twenty years back by the substitution for the bed of a deep, copper, mahogany-framed bath, that was filled by pulling a brass lever heavy as a piece of marine engineering; the rest of the room remained unchanged; a coal fire always burned there in winter.  I often think of that bathroom – the water colours dimmed by steam and the huge towel warming on the back of the chintz armchair – and contrast it with the uniform, clinical, little chambers, glittering with chromium-plate and looking-glass, which pass for luxury in the modern world.

Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited

PG Wodehouse

I don’t know if you have ever spent the night in a summer-house… All the ghost stories you’ve ever read go flitting through the mind, particularly any you know where fellows are found next morning absolutely dead, without a mark on them but with such a look of horror and fear in their eyes that the search party draw in their breath a bit and gaze at each other as much as to say ‘What ho!’

P G Wodehouse, Thank You, Jeeves

Lawrence Durrell

The most tender, the most tragic of illusions is perhaps to believe that our actions can add or subtract from the total quantity of good or evil in the world

Lawrence Durrell, The Alexandria Quartet

For other recents sets of quotations from my series of studying great writers, see here, here and here.

P.S. Do you like quotations from PG Wodehouse?  You may wish to look at my numerous selections of “Plum” quotations on this site.  They are collected conveniently in my PG Wodehouse archive.

P.P.S. If you enjoy fresh, original writing, please subscribe to my newsletter (you can unsubscribe anytime you wish).  I’ll send you a free “Hotel Story” to say thanks! Or I would be delighted if you would like to follow me on Facebook.


Sign up for my update emails

…and receive a FREE short story!

I won’t pass on your details to third parties / unsubscribe whenever you wish

3 Responses

  1. Ich zitiere Oscar Wilde: ” Hübsche Mädchen haben wenig Gelegenheit ihre anderen Fähigkeiten zu entwickeln”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles

Wodehouse on authors
PG Wodehouse

Wodehouse on authors

What are the views of PG Wodehouse on authors? “The Clicking of Cuthbert” reveals how he hated wannabe authors forcing themselves on him.

Read More
Uncle Dynamite PG Wodehouse
PG Wodehouse

“Uncle Dynamite” by PG Wodehouse

Uncle Dynamite, aka Uncle Fred is one of the finest comic creations of PG Wodehouse. Despite his age, he is a whirlwind of chaos in whose presence younger men feel terror at what he will do next. Read this book.

Read More