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Evelyn Waugh

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    edited October 2010
    Put him in goal instead of T.S.Elliot...
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    'All this fuss about sleeping together. For physical pleasure I'd sooner go to my dentist any day.'
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    I find Waugh's satires of contemporary upper class English society slightly irritating, but have to admit that the prose was occasionally seductively simple and elegant. I would also admit that his style was often inventive and aspects of his work showed a deep and sincere faith, but it was a pity he chose to bring up his two sons Mark and Steve as Australians as they were fine cricketers .
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    Went through a big Waugh phase in my late teens when I particularly appreciated the often cruel humour of Vile Bodies, Decline and Fall, Scoop etc. I kind of gave up on him for a while after reading the borderline racist (actually not so borderline) Black Mischief.
    Recently, I was given a very interesting biography of him ("Mad World" by Paula Byrne) which led me to revisit Brideshead Revisited and read A Handful Of Dust for the first time. I'd rank these as two of the greatest English novels of the 20th Century.
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    what is it good for?
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    edited October 2010
    [cite]Posted By: HarryAMuse[/cite]Went through a big Waugh phase in my late teens when I particularly appreciated the often cruel humour of Vile Bodies, Decline and Fall, Scoop etc. I kind of gave up on him for a while after reading the borderline racist (actually not so borderline) Black Mischief.
    Recently, I was given a very interesting biography of him ("Mad World" by Paula Byrne) which led me to revisit Brideshead Revisited and read A Handful Of Dust for the first time. I'd rank these as two of the greatest English novels of the 20th Century.

    Well if we are going to treat the topic seriously, I'd pretty much agree about Handful Of Dust, which I studied as a set text in Eng Lit almost 40 years ago.

    But greatest English novels of the 20th century - do you mean English language or by an English author? The latter possibly, but I'd place a number of Americans above Waugh, includng Scott Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Hemmingway, Steinbeck and the short stories of Flannery O'Connor. But then I'm biased in favour of US authors, as I did an American literature course at UCL under the tutorship of A.S.Byatt and Dan Jacobson, both potent English novelists in their own right, of course...
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    edited October 2010
    What about Afghanistan the forgotten Waugh?

    Whilst I'm interested in the Edwardian period, I find the aristocracy or Wasp's of the roaring twenties to be a deeply abhorent set. Could never get into Waugh, though I always intend to read Scoop for it's historical pseudo Italian/Abbysinian setting. Same with FScott Fitzgerald. I just find the lost generation to have so little to comment on past an extreme form of hedonism, and it's obvious outcome. Maybe I do Waugh a deep dis-service, but whenever I go near a book of his I despise the atmosphere of smug be-knighted divine right.

    I enjoy Hemmingway and Steinbeck, as they deal with the individual and struggles of the individual in structures which are a bit more universal.

    Having said that American literature really has nothing to hold a candle near that of Bulgakov and his inter-war plays and novels. Or indeed the novels and plays of Kafka and Brecht. American 20th century literature is nearly all the on the vanity of the individual, nearly all idiosyncratic to the insular nation that it is. If you want a broader more complex view of the individual, and the irrational pressures the majority of us face it's very rarely in any American novels.
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    Never got the credit he deserved. Probably because his two brothers stole most of the limelight, Steve and Mark.
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    [cite]Posted By: ThreadKiller[/cite]what is it good for?

    Absolutely nothing
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    [cite]Posted By: AFKABartram[/cite]
    [cite]Posted By: ThreadKiller[/cite]what is it good for?

    Absolutely nothing

    say it again
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    Find him a thoroughly dislikable person but that is perhaps why his very nasty attacks on the upper middle classes are so powerful.

    I find "The man who liked Dickens" chapter the scariest thing I've read.

    While I really like Handful of Dust and Brideshead I prefer the autobiographical Sword of Honour trilogy
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    Lots of Charlton links in Waugh's work.

    Sword Of Honour was obviously a reference to the CAFC badge.

    Handful Of Dust was what we won last year after promising so much.

    And Decline And Fall... no, on second thoughts let's not go there!
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    I haven't got a feckin scoobie who she was/is.
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    [cite]Posted By: northstandsteve[/cite]I haven't got a feckin scoobie who she was/is.

    He's a he but his wife was also called Evelyn
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    Oh yes, and Scoop was obviously all about Peter Burrowes!
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    The Loved One is about Killer.
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    "You have no idea how much nastier I would be if I was not a Catholic. Without supernatural aid I would hardly be a human being."
    ........................

    Not a Waugh fan, my distaste for the type of society he wanted always seemed to get in the way. But I'd listened to 'The Man Who Liked Dickens' on the radio, and became totally absorbed by the atmosphere of menace it created.
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    Being brought up as a Catholic and converting to atheism I found the ending of Brideshead, - SPOILER ALERT - when Charles Ryder converts to catholicism, totally unbelievable. I much preferred Vile Bodies and other satirical stuff.
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    I've read the Sword of Honour trilogy and I liked it a lot. Scoop is one of the greatest comedies in the English language. I wasn't much impressed by Vile Bodies.

    I think he was a very good prose writer but a deeply flawed man whose flaws carry over into his writing, in particular his snobbishness and his relentless catholic propaganda. As Orwell (who has impecable literary taste) said - he was about as good a novelist as anyone holding untenable views could be.
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    [cite]Posted By: ColinTat[/cite]
    Having said that American literature really has nothing to hold a candle near that of Bulgakov and his inter-war plays and novels. Or indeed the novels and plays of Kafka and Brecht. American 20th century literature is nearly all the on the vanity of the individual, nearly all idiosyncratic to the insular nation that it is. If you want a broader more complex view of the individual, and the irrational pressures the majority of us face it's very rarely in any American novels.

    I think that's a bit of generalistic view of a whole ccentury of American literature. I agree individualism is a theme that runs through many American novels (Updike, Hemingway, Fitzgerald,Frantzen, MCcarthy) there's a huge variety - it's a pretty big theme after all.

    Can you recommend me any Bulgakov please? I've read Master and Margerita and it's one of my favourite ever novels but I've no idea what else to try.
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    [cite]Posted By: Jints[/cite] he was about as good a novelist as anyone holding untenable views could be.

    A very good summation.
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    Good God, y'all
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    If you are at all interested in literary things (and in context of a contemporary companion to Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Hemmingway, Steinbeck et al) , may I humbly suggest seeking out the works of Willie Vlautin.
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    edited October 2010
    I think that's a bit of generalistic view of a whole ccentury of American literature. I agree individualism is a theme that runs through many American novels (Updike, Hemingway, Fitzgerald,Frantzen, MCcarthy) there's a huge variety - it's a pretty big theme after all.

    Can you recommend me any Bulgakov please? I've read Master and Margerita and it's one of my favourite ever novels but I've no idea what else to try.

    Ai it is a broad sweeping statement, obviously one that doesn't cover all bases just something that I've emotionally kicked against since my early twenties. Loved Salinger in my teens and early twenties. Just as I've got older Kerouac, Salinger and Bukowski lack a duality past the worst kind of extreme hedonism that is a pure selfishness of ego. I'm reading a lot on Benjamin Franklin, Jefferson, Adams, Alexander Hamilton and Jon Dickinson. Also trying to read Democracy In America by Alexis De Tocqueville, whilst although he's French, I find these guys wrote with an emotion and pragmatism inclusive of all men. I just find most of the popular American Literature of the 20th century quite repulsive in it's unfettered acceptance of extreme hedonism, instead of an inquisitive approach and control of pleasure that is either forced or empathetic in nature. And that is in a way why I find Waugh and his beliefs quite repulsive.

    As for Bulgakov, his most famous work especially in his life was White Guards. But my favourite are his short novels like Heart of A Dog, and The Fatal Eggs.

    And in answer to you Red no I haven't really read Miller, could never get in to his books, they still lie on my shelf. I shall have to try again.
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    [cite]Posted By: incorruptible addick[/cite]
    [cite]Posted By: HarryAMuse[/cite]Went through a big Waugh phase in my late teens when I particularly appreciated the often cruel humour of Vile Bodies, Decline and Fall, Scoop etc. I kind of gave up on him for a while after reading the borderline racist (actually not so borderline) Black Mischief.
    Recently, I was given a very interesting biography of him ("Mad World" by Paula Byrne) which led me to revisit Brideshead Revisited and read A Handful Of Dust for the first time. I'd rank these as two of the greatest English novels of the 20th Century.

    Well if we are going to treat the topic seriously, I'd pretty much agree about Handful Of Dust, which I studied as a set text in Eng Lit almost 40 years ago.

    But greatest English novels of the 20th century - do you mean English language or by an English author? The latter possibly, but I'd place a number of Americans above Waugh, includng Scott Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Hemmingway, Steinbeck and the short stories of Flannery O'Connor. But then I'm biased in favour of US authors, as I did an American literature course at UCL under the tutorship of A.S.Byatt and Dan Jacobson, both potent English novelists in their own right, of course...

    There's probably something about this forum that makes one tend to hyperbole but I did mean English not English Language. I'd agree with you about Fitzgerald and O'Connor in particular. If you haven't read it, I can thoroughly recommend "The Habit of Being" - The Letters of Flannery O'Connor.
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    A.S.Byatt huh? Lucky you! If you guys had to select five books as an intro to American Lit., what would they be please?

    Plus has anyone read Peter Carey's 'Parrot and Olivier in America' - It looked as though it might be an up to date de Tocqueville?

    I'm drowning in a sea of books and I'm not very disciplined in my approach.
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    I like a good, juicy Jilly Cooper .....
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