“A Dark and Hidden Thing”: Evelyn Waugh, Cannibalism, and the Problem of African Christianity

2017-05-22T03:03:15Z (GMT) by Timothy M. Christensen
In a series of editorials published in the conservative Catholic weekly <i>The Tablet</i> during January and February 1933, editor Ernest Oldmeadow condemned Evelyn Waugh's third novel, <i>Black Mischief</i>, as "a disgrace to anyone professing the Catholic name." While Oldmeadow took issue with a number of aspects of Waugh's novel, he appears to have been particularly outraged by Waugh's representation of a cannibal feast, which literary critics have often read as a parody of the Eucharist. Despite the fact that a number of eminent literary figures including Wyndham Lewis rushed to Waugh's defence, Waugh was sufficiently incensed to compose a lengthy response to Oldmeadow's charges. In May 1933, Waugh wrote a letter of protest to Cardinal Bourne, the Archbishop of Westminster, who, as owner of<i> The Tablet</i>, had appointed Oldmeadow editor.