Illiteracy revisited (or: Time magazine lists Evelyn Waugh among “the 100 most read female writers”)

evelyn waugh mistaken for woman

A journalist friend of mine once described Time magazine’s approach as one of “sustained obviousness”. It’s an approach that helps it sell magazines and get online eyeballs, but one that also favors writers who specialize in crafting link-bait-y, sound-bitey phrases rather than more rounded, well-read ones. Hence their recent goof-up in their recent article, These Are the 100 Most-Read Female Writers in College Classes, where they listed Evelyn Waugh.

Evelyn — pronounced EVE-uh-linn — Waugh was a man. Lots of people make this mistake, which was used to great effect in this scene from Lost in Translation:

…and Time magazine contributor David Johnson (who wrote the article) can at least take a little comfort in knowing that even an erudite publication, the Times Literary Supplement, referred to him as “Miss Waugh”. Not to be too charitable, I must point out that this is before Waugh became well-known. Johnson may also be surprised that Waugh’s first wife was a woman named Evelyn. (I understand Waugh’s experience, having had an all-too-short dalliance with a girl who went by “Joey”.)

Time has since corrected the goof-up, even noting it at the bottom of the article. I think we should all pinky-swear not to tell them about Alice Cooper, so we can have a hilarious article about the top women in rock.

Bonus literary supplement: Sir John Gielgud reads Brideshead Revisited

With the possible exception of Graham Greene, it doesn’t get more well-written, stoically English, and Catholic guilt-trippy than Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited. Here’s an abridged version read by Sir John Gielgud — enjoy!

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