UNCONDITIONAL SURRENDER


Officers and Gentlemen was finished in November 1954. Evelyn Waugh had meant to get on with the third book in the war trilogy soon after, but things hadn't quite worked out that way. The composition of The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold, a couple of years after the paranoid experience of it, plus the move from Piers Court, Gloucestershire, to Combe Florey, Somerset, took up 1956 and 1957. The close relationship to Ronald Knox, his final illness and death, and taking upon himself the task of writing an official biography: The Life of the Right Reverend Ronald Knox, kept Evelyn busy throughout 1958. A trip to Africa followed by a pot-boiling account of the trip, A Tourist in Africa, took chunks out of 1959. All this 'distraction' had occupied Evelyn for five years. Hence it was only in March 1960, that he began to turn his mind to writing the third volume of his novel memorialising his own experience of World War Two.

In 1940, he had been 37, getting a bit old in the tooth to be a soldier. In 1960, he was 57, getting a bit old in the tooth to be writing about it with zest. Or so he feared. Evelyn knew himself to be a man who had played hard and fought hard, and had become decidedly old for his years. But how was the booze-riddled bonce? Could he still master his material? Could he still structure a novel? Could he still bear in mind the architecture of the whole while making each subsidiary part shine, glow and dazzle? Perhaps he pondered all this as he made a start to phase three of what he would later describe as his
magnum opus. A term he'd also used for Brideshead Revisited.

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Mark Gerson, Evelyn in his library at Combe Florey

What is going on in Evelyn's mind in the above Combe Florey photo? Something like what has been captured by John Lawrence in the image below, the cover of the Folio Society's Unconditional Surrender?

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John Lawrence. Cover of Folio Society edition of Unconditional Surrender.


PROLOGUE: Locust Years

When Guy Crouchback came back to England from Crete in summer 1941, it was to endure two years of blankness. Hookforce didn't want him, and the Halberdiers couldn't make use of him either. This echoed Evelyn's own position, neglected by the Commandos and the Royal Marines. Both Guy and Evelyn wanted
action, but couldn't find it.

Following a visit to his father at Matchet, Devon, Guy receives a letter from him that tries to clarify what was in the old man's mind. The important quote from it is this: '
Quantitative judgements don't apply. If only one soul was saved that is full compensation for any amount of loss of face.'

Meanwhile, Guy was a liaison officer at HOO HQ. What does that mean? Let Jumbo Trotter explain:

"Well, anyway, stay on here as long as you like. We'll find a way of covering you in the returns. London District is never much trouble. All stock-brokers and wine-merchants from the Foot Guards. Awfully easy fellows to deal with."


BOOK ONE: STATE SWORD

We are given a precise date: 29 October 1943, Guy's 40th birthday. Guy and Jumbo eat oysters for lunch just as Evelyn and Randolph did a few days before Evelyn's 40th birthday on 28 October, 1943. During lunch they bump into Leiutenant Padfield, known as 'Loot', an American officer that is going to crop up throughout the book. They discuss The Sword of Stalingrad, which Churchill was to present to Stalin to honour the Russian efforts in the war, and which Loot has been to see on display at Westminster Abbey.

Cut to Corporal Major Ludovic from
Officers and Gentlemen, now risen to rank of Major in the Intelligence Corps. We are let into some pre-Crete back story. He had a relationship with Sir Ralph Brompton who was then attached to the Foreign Office. With Ralph, Ludovic had learned sophisticated ways, and when they'd split up as a pair, they'd remained friends. Having seen the Sword of Stalingrad, Ludovic called in on Sir Ralph, whose flat was in Ebury Street, on the way to drinks with Everard Spruce, editor of Survival, who has recently published Ludovic's Pensées. Spruce lived in a fine house in Cheyne Walk, so the geography all adds up, as you'll soon see.

Everard Spruce is a parody of Cyril Connolly, editor of
Horizon, who Waugh had already parodied as Ambrose Silk, editor of Ivory Tower in Put Out More Flags. Below is the cover of the June, 1943 issue, into which it would be easy enough to slip Ludovic's Pensées. Perhaps in place of the second part of Quennell's piece on Boswell.

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Cover of June, 1943, edition of Horizon.

Anyway, Cyril Connolly, I mean Everard Spruce:

'Tonight he wore a heavy silk, heavily striped shirt and a bow tie above non-committal trousers. The secretaries were dressed rather like him though in commoner materials; they wore their hair long and enveloping…One went bare-footed as though to emphasise her servile condition. They were sometimes spoken of as 'Spruce's veiled ladies'. They gave him their full devotion; also their rations of butter, meat and sugar.


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Ludovic is greeted distractedly by Spruce who wants to talk with him before the end of the evening, but who must first attend to two other guests, both professors of English Literature but not very fluent in conversation. Can Ludovic speak Turkish or Portuguese? No, Ludovic can't. But he deals with this party comfortably enough, in part thanks to the education he's received from Sir Ralph. He has no difficulty in turning down a cocktail offered by one of Spruce's veiled ladies comprising of a 50/50 mix of South African sherry and "Olde Falstaffe Gin".

Cut to the Kilbannocks' house in Eaton Terrace, which I've marked on the map, below. Virginia (down on her luck, money-wise), is coming round to see Kerstie for
a girls' talk, so Ian must make himself scarce. He could go to his club, Bellamy's (aka White's), on St James's (again, see map), although he also has the invite to the Survival party as an option. Meanwhile, Guy has gone off duty in Brompton, taken a tube to Green Park station and is homing in on Bellamy's. He meets Loot who tells him of his plan to drop in on the Survival party where he has been told there will be champagne. At Bellamy's, Guy also bumps into Arthur Box-Bender, who has popped into there from the House (of Commons).

I've marked five red tacks on the map. Westminster Abbey, near the right edge. Bellamy's Club and the offices of Survival, near the top and bottom of the map, respectively. And the homes of Sir Ralph Brompton and the Kilbannocks, towards the middle of the map, Sir Ralph's being nearer Westminster, and where Ludovic stops on his walk to the
Survival party. Of course, Guy Crouchback and Ian Kilbannock, being at Bellamy's to the north, need a taxi to get to the Survival party. Waugh has carefully thought through the realism of all this.

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Eventually, a taxi is obtained by Loot (only Americans can successfully hail taxis at this time in history) and Guy and Ian, who - I should have mentioned - Guy has also ran into at Bellamy's, are given a free ride to Cheyne Walk. Ludovic is terrified at the sight of Guy, who is delighted to see him, and wants to thank him for saving his life and reminisce about Crete. Of course, Ludovic, who may have murdered and/or disposed of both Major Hound and a sapper, would rather not discuss Crete. And in fact he bolts from the
Survival party without a word of goodbye. Everard Spruce is disappointed.

The 'book' ends with Ludovic, at home one presumes, considering the winning entry to
Time and Tide's literary competition. (This publication seems to be based on Life and Letters, edited by Desmond MacCarthy.) To compose a poem for this magazine had been Ludovic's reason for seeing the Sword of Stalingrad in person. Disappointed with the winning poem, he soon turns with approval to his own unpublished entry. Here it is, along with my notes:

Stele of my past on which engravéd are (We are concerned here with Ludovic's memory.)
The pleadings of that long divorce of steel,
(Sir Ralph and Ludovic suffered a painful break-up.)
In which was stolen that directive star
(Ludovic had lost the love of his life.)
By which I sailed, expunged be. No spar, (
A simile is being drawn between the wreck of the small boat recalled from Crete…)
No mast, no halyard, bowsprit, boom or keel
Survives my wreck..
(…and Ludovic's own unconditional surrender.)

This whole section is saturated with three things. The geography of Piccadilly/Westminster; the politics and priorities of the literary world in a time of war (How Evelyn endlessly mocked poor Cyril and his coterie); and allusions to a homosexual relationship between men at a time when such things were illegal.

Nice one, Evelyn. Off to a carefully interwoven start.




BOOK TWO: FIN DE LIGNE

Virginia is staying rent-free at the Kilbannocks, though Ian Kilbannock resentsf the arrangement.

Guy's father dies, so Guy travels to the funeral at Broome, which is somewhere in the West Country, probably Somerset. Evelyn's own father died in July 1943, so no doubt Waugh drew on that to flesh out some long scenes. Guy's father's brother, Peregrine, attends the funeral, though his main role in the book comes later. The Box-Benders are there too, and even Loot.
'Quantitative judgements don't apply', comes up again as Guy sits in the church listening to the Latin mass. Under the influence of his dead father, who he thinks of as the only truly good man he has ever know, Guy prays to God: 'Show me what to do and help me to do it.' Arthur Box-Bender hadn't been to a mass before, so Waugh takes the opportunity to gently mock his confusion. Later, the family lawyer tells Guy about the various things that his father had kept after the sale of Broome, and Guy decides to keep everything at Matchet. Various pensions that his father had set up will continue to be honoured. Guy and his sister agree on that, though Arthur Box-Bender does not approve.

In the midst of this, we learn that Virginia is pregnant. She tries to arrange an abortion, but fails to do so in such humiliating terms that she accepts she will have to have this child of Trimmer's.

Cut to Ludovic's command, a villa in a desolate part of Essex. He runs a parachute school, though his own duties seem incredibly light. He uses a thesaurus to help perfect his reports on each parachutist literary. Here is an exchange with his staff-captain:

"What did you think of our last batch?"

"Not up too much."

"A rabble of coistrell curates?"

"Sir?"

"Never mind."


Ludovic is dismayed to find Guy Crouchback's name on the next batch of 'clients'. Guy, as he speaks Italian, is being lined up by mysterious forces for a mission in the Adriatic.

At the Kilbannocks', Ian suggests to Kerstie that Virginia's best option would be to team up again with Guy, the first of her three pre-Trimmer husbands. A suggestion that his wife finds revolting, as she is fond of Guy.

Meanwhile, back at the parachute school, Ludovic decides that his best course of action is not to appear before the new batch of clients, and to take all his meals in his room. Frank de Souza is another of the new batch, who Guy knew from his early training with the Halberdiers. It turns out that de Souza knows Sir Ralph Brompton and both (the reader is told) have communist sympathies. As does Gilpin, another trainee parachutist. Training goes well enough, but on the day of their first jump, Gilpin has to be pushed out of the plane. As for Guy:

'Guy jumped. For a second, as the rush of air hit him, he lost consciousness. Then he came to himself, his senses purged of the noise and smell and throb of the machine. The hazy November sun enveloped him in golden light. His solitude was absolute… He experienced rapture, something as near as his earthbound soul could reach to a foretaste of paradise…The aeroplane seemed as far distant as will, at the moment of death, the spinning earth. As though he had cast the restraining bonds of flesh and muscle and nerve, he found himself floating free…He was a free spirit in an element as fresh as on the day of its creation.'

Compare that fictional jump from November 1943 to Waugh's diary notes for that same month:

'
The first (jump) was the keenest pleasure I remember. The aeroplane noisy, dark, dirty, crowded; the harness and parachute irksome. From this one stepped into perfect silence and solitude and apparent immobility in bright sunshine above the treetops.'

Guy and Evelyn both landed awkwardly, Guy after his first jump, Evelyn after his second. Both were hospitalised. When Ludovic hears about Guy's accident he is relieved, indeed triumphant, He eats with the men again. And he confides to his second-in-command that he wants a canine companion. A Pekinese that he will eventually call Fido. (These are references to
Officers and Gentlemen : Ivor Claire had a Pekinese and Major Hound's nickname was Fido.) Ludovic has become something of joke to the recruits, and de Souza calls him Dracula. Ludovic soon obtains his canine companion and immediately dotes on it, talking to it as if it was a baby. The dog won't eat any of the food provided, instead it eats the latest copy of Survival. Causing its besotted owner to comment: '"What'll kind staff-captain-man say if you won't eat his nice grub, eh? What'll kind editor-man say if you eat his clever paper?"

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John Lawrence. Illustration from Folio Society edition of Unconditional Surrender.

'Ludovic was on all fours, making the noises which had been audible outside; he was, at first sight, all khaki trouser-seat, like Jumbo Trotter at the billiard table; a figure from antiquated farce, 'caught bending' inviting the boot.'

It's strange what Waugh is doing with the Ludovic character. He was a mysterious and ominous presence on Crete. Then he mutated into an ambitious literary man of homosexual history, and now this decidedly odd and isolated major. I suspect that Evelyn was partly thinking about himself, though I say this mostly because of how the literary dimension of Ludovic is developed in the next 'book'.

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Mark Gerson, Evelyn in his library at Combe Florey

Guy has an awkward time in the RAF hospital, as did Evelyn in real life. Guy gets Jumbo to transfer him to HOO, just as Evelyn moved himself to recuperate in the Hyde Park Hotel. Peregrine pays Guy a visit, and offers him a room in his own house. Virginia visits Guy there in December, 1943. The first time they'd met since Feb.14, 1940. This parallels Evelyn bumping into Teresa Jungman in January 1940, the beautiful woman that he'd wanted to marry in his late twenties, then meeting her again in November 1943, by which time she had a child by her soldier husband. 'I saw Baby and her baby'. The fact that Evelyn would gladly have made a child with Baby Jungman surely feeds into this whole, vital, sub-plot.

Virginia cultivates Guy's company. However, Peregrine thinks it's him she's really coming to see, which allows some humour to be introduced and for readers to get insight into both Virginia's lonely life and Peregrine's. They have a certain amount in common. When Peregrine realises the actual situation, he feels he has to warn Guy that Virginia has designs on him. Virginia and Guy have a long conversation, where Guy makes it clear that he no longer loves her. The scene ends in the following way: '
Then she informed him, without any extenuation or plea for compassion, curtly almost, that she was with child by Trimmer.'

Next we learn that Virginia is moving out of the Kilbannocks and in with Guy. Ian thinks Virginia is being sensible. Kerstie thinks Guy must be insane. She goes round to see him, but to no avail. Guy turns once more to his father's letter: 'Quantitative judgements don't apply. If only one soul was saved, that is full compensation for any amount of 'loss of face'.



BOOK THREE: THE DEATH WISH

1

Guy is flown in a Dakota to Bari in Italy. He is met by Gilpin, who he'd observed flunking his first jump. Gilpin proves obstructive, causes inconvenience, and Guy soon feels homesick for the Italy he remembers from his youth.

Meanwhile, Ludovic was on fire. Since the middle of December, 1943, he had been writing 3000 words
a day. 'His manner of composition was quite changed. Fowler and Roget lay unopened. He felt no need now to find the right word. All words were right.'

Was Ludovic writing
Brideshead Revisited? Yes and no. His book would be called The Death Wish, which puts one in mind of Sebastian Flyte. Waugh began to write Brideshead in January of 1944, just a month after Ludovic got going. On Wednesday, 2 February, Waugh noted in his diary: 'Score at close of play 3000 words odd.' And on Feb 14: 'Yesterday, after day of tinkering and reading the papers, I sat down after dinner and wrote 3,000 words in three hours. Today I have treated myself as a kind of invalid as a result.' Those glory days were still on Waugh's mind as he wrote Unconditional Surrender in his library at Combe Florey in 1960.

Guy is put in the picture about the situation in Yugoslavia. The Jugoslav partisans (communists) are fighting the Germans, so the British are going to help them. Guy is not even comfortable with the idea that Russia is an ally, never mind this, but is told:
'"Keep clear of politics. That's the first rule of this mission."'

With nothing to do in Bari, it becomes clear to Guy that he has a death wish, which he tries to confess to a local priest. It's March before he's told that a plane will take him on his mission to Croatia.

2

Guy is flown from Bari, in Italy, to Begoy, in Croatia. See the red tacks towards the right edge of the map.

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He is assigned an interpreter called Bakic. There are 108 Jews, refugees, that need to be got to safety. He gets to know their spokesperson, Mme Kanyi a little bit. This whole scenario was written and published in 1949, in
The Month, as a short story called 'Compassion'. Waugh didn't allow this to be republished as by the mid-fifties he knew he wanted to re-use it in his war novel, though to do so he had to cut it into sections, skilfully interweaving it with the other threads. A Scotsman, Major Gordon, is the protagonist in 'Compassion'; he is replaced with Guy Crouchback in Unconditional Surrender.

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Cover of August, 1949, edition of The Month.

In reality, at this phase of the war, Evelyn Waugh was at a place called Topusko in Croatia, where he was serving under Randolph Churchill. The situation with the refugee Jews is referred to a couple of times in the diary. More often, what comes up is the extreme difficulty Waugh had coping up with the presence of Randolph.

18 September. 1944:
'Thirty Jews who have occupied much of Randolph's attention. Randolph blind drunk from Communist dinner party.'

23 October:
'I remarked how boring it was to be obliged to tell Randolph everything twice - once when he was drunk, once when he was sober.'

27 October:
'I have felt less inclination to hide my scorn since his loss of self-control during the air-raid on Sunday. The facts are that he is a bore - with no intellectual invention or agility. He has childlike retentive memory and repetition takes the place of thought… He is not a good companion for a long period, but the conclusion is always the same - that no one else would have chosen me, nor would anyone else have accepted him. We are both at the end of our tether as far as war work is concerned and must make what we can of it.'

It's interesting that Waugh chose to leave Churchill out of the narrative of his novel. Perhaps his presence would have unbalanced the structure, coming this late in the story. More likely, Waugh would have calculated that he couldn't get away with it. Randolph would have sued him twice. He would have sued him drunk, and he would have sued him sober.

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Evelyn Waugh and Randolph Churchill in their farmhouse at Topusko, Croatia.

Back in England, Virginia's son is born on June 4, 1944. Ian Kilbannock reports to General Whale that Trimmer is currently in San Francisco, but that he hasn't gone down well in America, who have their own wartime heroes by this stage. And Ludovic comes to the end of his
Death Wish. Brideshead parallels abound:

'Had he known it, half a dozen other English writers, averting themselves from the privations of war and apprehensions of the social consequences of peace, were even then, severally and secretly, unknown to one another, composing or preparing to compose books which would turn from drab alleys of the thirties into the odorous gardens of recent past, transformed and illuminated by disordered memory and imagination….Nor was it for all its glitter a cheerful book. Melancholy suffused its pages and deepened towards the close.'

'Lady Marmaduke was a bitch. Ludovic had known from the start the she must die in the last chapter.'

Lady Marchmain was a bitch. But it is Lord Marchmain who dies towards the end of Brideshead.

'Lady Marmaduke, in the manner of an earlier and happier age, fell into decline. Her disease was painless and unspecified. Under Ludovic's heavy arm she languished, grew thinner, transparent, the rings slipped from her fingers among the rich covering of her chaise-lounge as the light faded on the distant, delectable mountains.'

Virginia decides that it would be for the best if her son, Gervase, goes and stays with the Box-Benders in Gloucestershire. Ostensibly it's so that the child will be safe from bombs, but really it's to increase her own personal freedom.


3

Guy has been joined in Begoy by Frank de Souza when he is forwarded a letter which tells him that Virginia has been killed by a doodle bomb which fell on Carlisle Place where she had been staying. Peregrine died too, but Gervase is safe. The flying bombs had also disturbed the good order of the
Survival office. Two of the four secretaries had gone to the country. Spruce says to a remaining secretary:

'Ludovic's Death Wish has got something you know."

"Something very bad."

"Oh, yes, bad; egregiously bad. I shouldn't be surprised to see it a great success."

"Hardly what we expected from the author of the aphorisms."

"It is an interesting thing, " said Spruce, "but very few of the great masters of trash aimed low to start with. Most of them wrote sonnet sequences in youth."

Waugh had been correcting the proofs of Brideshead in Topulko, and received the first letters about the published book in January, 1945. Nancy Mitford proclaimed it a classic. So his self-esteem could afford to play these games of reversal.

In Begoy, de Souza tells Guy that a show is being put on for a visiting American general. With the help of British air support, partisans will take over a block-house occupied by Germans.


4

Ian Kilbannock has the job of witnessing the operation and writing it up. Ben Ritchie-Hook would be there also, pairing off with the American general, as it were. Unfortunately, their plane from Bari crashes in Croatia. This parallels the crashing of the plane that took Evelyn Waugh and Randolph Churchill from Bari to Topulko in Waugh's fictional 1944.

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The crash adds nothing much to the plot of
Unconditional Surrender, just delays their getting into position for the operation. But clearly the plane crash was something that Waugh remembered in vivid, spasmodic detail, and couldn't resist including it. Interesting that the crash is given to Ian Kilbannock rather than Guy Crouchback. Perhaps a crashing plane so soon after Guy's parachute accident would have seemed to be piling it on a bit thick. After all, Guy is not essentially man of action.

So the operation goes ahead. It is a shambles. One of the partisan companies doesn't turn up. The British aircraft misses the target and it is reported that a German armoured column has been warned and is on its way. The remaining partisan company disperses to fight another day. Ben Ritchie Hook conducts a one-man charge at the solid little fort.

'A first bullet hit Ritchie-Hook when he was some 20 yards from the walls. He spun completely round, then fell forwards on his knees, rose again and limped slowly on. He was touching the walls, feeling for a hand-hold when a volley from above caught him and flung him down dead.'

In a way the op was a success. As Ian tells Loot, who has turned up again: '
General Spitz is satisfied that the partisans mean business and are skilled in guerrilla tactics He was rather sceptical at one point but Ritchie-Hook changed all that. A decision of the heart rather than the head perhaps.'

Evelyn makes it obvious the brigadier really is dead this time, as his death has been hinted at so often before in the trilogy. It leaves the reader slightly sad. After all, Ben Ritchie Hook triumphed over Apthorrpe in the battle of the Thunderbox. Ben Ritchie Hook returned from the disastrous raid on Dakar with the head of an enemy soldier by way of a 'coconut'. Of course, the deranged brigadier effectively committed suicide. Why should he be immune to the death wish?

De Souza clears off and leaves Guy in charge at Begoy. He wants to try and get the 108 Jews to safety. It looks as if this will happen, via Dakotas, but then misty weather means the planes can't land. Instead, a special drop is arranged just for the Jews. The partisans resent this and the Jews are moved to a terrible old camp. Guy arranges to meet Mme Kanyi and they discuss the politics of it all. She is a wise woman and Guy defers to her analysis of the death wish among Europeans that she knew before the war.

"They could assert their manhood by killing and being killed… I knew Italians - not very many perhaps - who felt this. Were there none in England?

"God forgive me," said Guy. "I was one of them."


5

Guy leaves Begoy and travels via Split and Dubrovnik, then from Brindisi, to Bari, arriving just a year after he had first gone there. The following map shows Guy's move (blue circles) and Evelyn's own moves (purple) that he mentions in his more detailed diary.

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In Bari, Guy learns that the Jews got away from Croatia and goes to see them in a stoney valley near Lecce. However, he discovers that Mme Kanyi is not amongst them. He finds out that she has been arrested and executed by a People's Court. It's the unsympathetic, partisan-loving Gilpin that tells him this, and Guy is tempted to strike his fellow officer. Waugh doesn't spell it out here, but his feelings are strong because, as his father wrote, quantitative judgements don't apply. Mme Kanyi was a wise woman, a kind person, and she did not deserve to die.



EPILOGUE: Festival of Britain.

Six years later. 1951. Tommy Blackhouse arranges a reunion of the Commandos at Bellamy's. Guy is there. But Trimmer has disappeared. Guy meets Arthur Box-Bender and tells him that the Castello in Italy has been sold. It's been bought by Ludovic who earned the money from a million sales of
The Death Wish. Loot arranged the sale, as he is now Ludovic's factotum. What is a FACTOTUM? Evelyn lets the word resonate ambiguously.

The conversation with Box-Bender reveals that Guy has married Domenica, who brings to mind Evelyn's second wife, Laura. They live, not at Broome itself, but at a lesser house on the estate, and Domenica manages the Home Farm at Broome. They are raising Virginia's child, plus two of their own.

Now when Evelyn heard from Anthony Powell that the existence of two children of Guy's own made the ending ambiguous (Evelyn wanted it to be clear that it was Trimmer's son that would inherit from Guy Crouchback), Evelyn dispensed with the two extra children in subsequent editions.

Sometimes ambiguity is a desired trait. And sometimes it is to be deplored.

Guy may not have been able to save Mme Kanyi, but he had been able to save the son of Trimmer. Bringing us back to:
'Quantitative judgements don't apply. If only one soul was saved, that is full compensation for any amount of 'loss of face'.



OUTRO

There is one last thing I want to explore, and that is the use of the name 'GERVASE'. A connection struck me when Virginia tells Peregrine that she thinks Guy would like her child, if it was a boy, to be called Gervase.

What struck me while reading that exact bit was the similarity to the word 'HEYGATE'. What do I mean? Not only are both words of seven letters, both have identical vowels, identically placed in the word, but one has a three-letter word followed by a four-letter word that means something. 'GATE' on the one hand, 'VASE' on the other.

Let's migrate from one name to the other in easy steps:

HEYGATE
HERGATE
HERVASE
GERVASE

It wouldn't surprise me if Waugh had come up with this name consciously. There are all sorts of games going on with names in
Unconditional Surrender, as in much of Waugh's writing. Marchmain/Marmaduke is one tease. Wartime journal Survival for Horizon is another. One I haven't mentioned is that Sir Ralph Brompton is named Sir Ralph Anglesea in manuscript, the name Brompton also cropping up as the place that HOO (Hazardous Offensive Operations) is located in. Evelyn perhaps thought it helped remind the reader that HOO HQ was in Brompton if the diplomatic adviser to HOO was actually called Sir Ralph Brompton.

I should say here - or this section might not make much sense - that the name Heygate has vast significance to Evelyn Waugh. It was his friend, John Heygate, who slept with Evelyn's first wife, Evelyn Gardner, leading to the breakdown of that marriage in 1929. After just a single year of married life.

A picture implying trouble appeared in the press. This was 1929, bear in mind, so it was not done to be seen lying close to a man, drinking and smoking and clearly talking intimately with him.

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John Heygate photographed with Mrs Evelyn Waugh as seen in The Tatler.

This event, the break-up and the divorce, shattered Evelyn's sexual confidence and worldview, and my website focussing on the first half of Evelyn's life goes over and over what happened, in the same way Evelyn's disturbed mind did so from 1929 to the mid-1930s.

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The living room of the Waughs flat at Canonbury Square, Islington. Inset, the Evelyns at a party on The Friendship, moored at Charing Cross.

Then, in 1936, once his own relationship with Evelyn Gardner had foundered, John Heygate wrote to Evelyn Waugh and asked for his forgiveness. Apparently, it was a long, rambling, contrite letter. Waugh's reply was short: 'OK: EW'. But I'm wondering if the Sword of Honour trilogy was a much, much longer elaboration of the same reply.

As I've already said, Waugh, having adored Baby Jungman from 1930 to 1935, had met her again in 1940, by which time she'd got married, and met her again in 1943 when she was with a baby fathered by her non-Evelyn husband. This may have given rise to the thought that the most generous thing Evelyn could do in the hypothetical circumstances of the child's parents dying in the war, was to accept the other man's offspring as his own, and raise it. Which leads to the most charitable (and most hypothetical) sacrifice of all. That if She-Evelyn had had a child by John Heygate, and then something had happened to both the parents, then it would have been Evelyn's sacred duty to make sure that the child was raised by himself.
Quantitative judgements don't apply. If only one soul was saved, that is full compensation for any amount of 'loss of face'.

I was never happy with that quote from Guy's father's letter. It always seemed to be a bit contrived. A means for Evelyn to go exactly where he wanted to go with this book. His
magnum opus.

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Mark Gerson, Evelyn in his library at Combe Florey

All this would suggest that Evelyn knew how the trilogy was going to play out from the beginning. (He began 'Sword of Honour' in 1951, when he was 47 going on 48.) The start of the first book,
Men At Arms, is a feast of the word 'Gervase'; the name crops up four times on page one, as Guy's grandfather, Gervase, buys a castle in Italy which he calls 'Villa Hermione', in tribute to his bride, but which will always be known as the Castello. (Some names stick and some don't.) In what is still the first chapter of Men At Arms, we learn that Gervase and Hermione have two children, Guy's father and Peregrine, who is first described as a bore of International repute. We learn soon after that Guy's father has three older children in addition to Guy, and that they are called Ivo (who we are told committed suicide), Angela (who marries Arthur Box-Bender), and Gervase (who was shot by a sniper on his first day in France). I suspect it's not until the synopsis of the two previous books that occurs at the beginning of Unconditional Surrender that we learn that Guy's father is called Gervase. All though Officers and Gentlemen it's either 'Mr Crouchback' or 'my father'. So it never becomes explicit in the reader's mind that there have been three generations in a row of boys and men called 'Gervase'. Virginia knows this though, making it the obvious name for her to call her son if she wants Guy to stay onside re their unconventional arrangement.

I think I'll leave it there. In 1961, Evelyn told his literary agent that he would take a break from writing novels for five years. Five years and six days later he was dead. Thanks to Robert Murray Davis for that observation on page 325 of his
Evelyn Waugh, Writer. I have newly learned, thanks to a Jeffrey Manley posting on the Evelyn Waugh Society website, that Robert Murray Davis, who I met at Waugh conferences in 2011 and 2015, died in September, 2021. R.I.P. R.M.D. Fellow Evelyn Waugh scholar.

Deaths and births. Births and deaths. So the world goes around. But always and forever Gervase.

I nearly forgot. In 1936 (the year of the 'OK: EW' reply to Heygate) Evelyn published the short story 'Winner takes All'. The older son is called Gervase and the younger, Tom, the sort of short, simple, male name that Evelyn - who often felt embarrassed by his gender-neutral Christian name - preferred for his first-person protagonists. All through their lives, Gervase is favoured, and Tom is expected to accept this, and does so. He even lets Gervase steal his super-rich girl-friend. The final paragraph reads:

'The dower house is let on a long lease to a sporting manufacturer. Gervase has taken over the Hounds and spends money profusely; everyone in the neighbourhood is content.'

'Winner Takes All'? It's an ominous ending, and it calls to the final lines of
Unconditional Surrender:

"Yes," said Box-Bender, not without a small, clear note of resentment, "things have turned out very conveniently for Guy."

Guy? Tom? Paul? That last line is every bit as awesomely ironic as anything in
Decline and Fall. What a superb conclusion to Evelyn Waugh's novel-writing career.