After seven years of marriage, the beautiful Lady Brenda Last has grown bored with life at Hetton Abbey, the Gothic mansion that is the pride and joy of her husband, Tony. She drifts into an affair with the shallow socialite John Beaver and forsakes Tony for the Belgravia set. In a novel that combines tragedy, comedy, and savage irony, Evelyn Waugh indelibly captures the irresponsible mood of the "crazy and sterile generation" between the wars.
Upper-class scoundrel Basil Seal, mad, bad, and dangerous to know, creates havoc wherever he goes, much to the despair of the three women in his life-his sister, his mother, and his mistress. When Neville Chamberlain declares war on Germany, it seems the perfect opportunity for more action and adventure. So Basil follows the call to arms and sets forth to enjoy his finest hour-as a war hero. Basil's instincts for self-preservation come to the fore as he insinuates himself into the Ministry of Information and a little-known section of Military Security. With Europe frozen in the "phoney war," when will Basil's big chance to fight finally arrive?
Lord Copper, newspaper magnate and proprietor of the Daily Beast, has always prided himself on his intuitive flair for spotting ace reporters. That is not to say he has not made the odd blunder, however, and may in a moment of weakness make another. Acting on a dinner party tip from Mrs. Algernon Stitch, Lord Copper feels convinced that he has hit on just the chap to cover a promising war in the African Republic of Ishmaelia. So begins Scoop, Waugh's exuberant comedy of mistaken identity and brilliantly irreverent satire of the hectic pursuit of hot news.
Black Mischief, " Waugh's third novel, helped to establish his reputation as a master satirist. Set on the fictional African island of Azania, the novel chronicles the efforts of Emperor Seth, assisted by the Englishman Basil Seal, to modernize his kingdom. Profound hilarity ensues from the issuance of homemade currency, the staging of a "Birth Control Gala, " the rightful ruler's demise at his own rather long and tiring coronation ceremonies, and a good deal more mischief.
Fueled by idealism and eagerness to contribute to the war effort, Guy Crouchback becomes attached to a commando unit undergoing training on the Hebridean isle of Mugg, where the whisky flows freely and respect must be paid to the laird. But the comedy of Mugg is soon followed by the bitterness of Crete, where chaos reigns and a difficult evacuation must be accomplished.
Officers and Gentlemen is the second novel in Waugh's brilliant Sword of Honor trilogy recording the tumultuous wartime adventures of Guy Crouchback, which also comprises Men at Arms and Unconditional Surrender.
Guy Crouchback, determined to get into the war, takes a commission in the Royal Corps of Halberdiers. His spirits high, he sees all the trimmings but none of the action. And his first campaign, an abortive affair on the West African coastline, ends with an escapade which seriously blots his Halberdier copybook. Men at Arms is the first book in Waugh’s brilliant trilogy, Sword of Honour, which chronicles the fortunes of Guy Crouchback. The second and third volumes, Officers and Gentlemen and Unconditional Surrender, are also published in Penguin. Sword of Honour has recently been made into a television drama series, with screenplay by William Boyd.
This trilogy spanning World War II, based in part on Evelyn Waugh's own experiences as an army officer, is the author's surpassing achievement as a novelist. Its central character is Guy Crouchback, head of an ancient but decayed Catholic family, who at first discovers new purpose in the challenge to defend Christian values against Nazi barbarism, but then gradually finds the complexities and cruelties of war overwhelming. Though often somber, Sword of Honor is also a brilliant comedy, peopled by the fantastic figures so familiar from Waugh's early satires. The deepest pleasures these novels afford come from observing a great satiric writer employ his gifts with extraordinary subtlety, delicacy, and human feeling, for purposes that are ultimately anything but satiric.
This trilogy spanning World War II, based in part on Evelyn Waugh's own experiences as an army officer, is the author's surpassing achievement as a novelist. Its central character is Guy Crouchback, head of an ancient but decayed Catholic family, who at first discovers new purpose in the challenge to defend Christian values against Nazi barbarism, but then gradually finds the complexities and cruelties of war overwhelming. Though often somber, Sword of Honor is also a brilliant comedy, peopled by the fantastic figures so familiar from Waugh's early satires. The deepest pleasures these novels afford come from observing a great satiric writer employ his gifts with extraordinary subtlety, delicacy, and human feeling, for purposes that are ultimately anything but satiric. Sword of Honor comprises the three acclaimed novels Men at Arms, Officers and Gentlemen, and Unconditional Surrender.
Following the death of a friend, the poet and pets' mortician Dennis Barlow finds himself entering the artificial Hollywood paradise of the Whispering Glades Memorial Park. Within its golden gates, death, American-style, is wrapped up and sold like a package holiday-and Dennis gets drawn into a bizarre love triangle with Aimée Thanatogenos, a naïve Californian corpse beautician, and Mr. Joyboy, a master of the embalmer's art. Waugh's dark and savage satire on the Anglo-American cultural divide depicts a world where reputation, love, and death cost a very great deal.
In the years following the First World War a new generation emerged, wistful and vulnerable beneath the glitter. The Bright Young Things of 1920s London, with their paradoxical mix of innocence and sophistication, exercised their inventive minds and vile bodies in every kind of capricious escapade. In these pages a vivid assortment of characters, among them the struggling writer Adam Fenwick-Symes and the glamorous, aristocratic Nina Blount, hunt fast and furiously for ever greater sensations and the hedonistic fulfillment of their desires. Evelyn Waugh's acidly funny satire reveals the darkness and vulnerability beneath the sparkling surface of the high life.
The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold remains one of Eveyln Waugh's most remarkable and self-revealing works. Three years before he wrote it, Waugh suffered "a brief bout of hallucination" similar to the one that besets Mr. Pinfold in this wildly witty and occasionally frightening novel.
A successful, middle-aged novelist with a case of "bad nerves," Gilbert Pinfold embarks on a recuperative trip to Ceylon. Almost as soon as the gagnplank lifts, Mr. Pinfold hears sounds coming out of the ceiling of his cabin: wild jazz bands, barking dogs, loud revival meetings. He can only infer that somewhere concealed in his room an erratic public-address system is letting him hear everything that goes on aboard ship. And then, instead of just sounds, he hears voices. But they are not just any voices. These voices are talking, in the most frightening intimate way, about him!
Helena is the intelligent, horse-mad daughter of a British chieftain who is thrown into marriage with the man who will one day become the Roman emperor Constantius. Leaving home for lands unknown, she spends her adulthood seeking truth in the religions, mythologies, and philosophies of the declining ancient world, and becomes initiated into Christianity just as it is recognized as the religion of the Roman Empire. Helena-a novel that Evelyn Waugh considered to be his favorite, and most ambitious, work-deftly traverses the forces of corruption, treachery, enlightenment, and political intrigue of Imperial Rome as it brings to life an inspiring heroine.