The Brideshead Revisited features a side character, a certain Captain Foulenough. In Russian translation his last name is rendered as Буремглой, obviously referring to a Pushkin's line

Буря мглою небо кроет

(The storm covers sky with darkness)

It is a famous poem, known by every Russian fourth-grader.

The search for foul enough in a similar context yields An Island, by Edwin Arlington Robinson:

a storm foul enough

I trust the translator; I am sure she came up with such rendering for a reason. On the other hand, I doubt that Robinson was known in 1945 England as much as Pushkin in Russia.

The question is, did Waugh intentionally attach a hidden meaning, and did he expect this hidden meaning to be understood by an average reader?

  • Foul enough is perfectly meaningful in English, even without considering the Edwin Arlington Robinson poem.
    – Peter Shor
    Apr 28 '19 at 2:37
  • 1
    @PeterShor storm is very important here, otherwise a direct translation would suffice.
    – user58697
    Apr 28 '19 at 3:15

Waugh seems to have borrowed the character Captain Foulenough from a long-running newspaper column published under the pen name Beachcomber. So if Captain Foulenough is a reference to Edwin Arlington Robinson's poem The Island, it would not have been Evelyn Waugh's reference.

And it seems very unlikely that it is a reference to The Island. Edwin Arlington Robinson wrote a handful of poems that are quite well-known (Richard Cory and Mr. Flood's Party being among the most famous), but as far as I know, The Island was never one of his better known poems. And naming an "archetypical cad and gatecrasher" after a line in a poem about Napoleon seems rather bizarre.

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