Friday, February 15, 2008

A Handful of Dust (by Evelyn Waugh)

Also on both the MLA and Time lists, and a remarkably quick read, really. To tell the plot would be to give too much away. It starts off as a sort of comedy of manners (British society between the wars) that's very funny, and then ends up... in quite a different place. There's a whole lot of literary allusion going on here, as the central figures form a King Arthur-Guinevere-Lancelot triangle, which adds interest and poignancy and depth. The ending is unexpected and yet adds dimension to the whole book.

Still, I'd have preferred the novel to stay as a small social satire, rather than going in that different direction. As I'm typing this I realize I wanted a Henry James or Edith Wharton type of novel, where nothing fantastical has to happen in order for it to be meaningful. At any rate, it's a good book, but as far aw Waugh goes, I prefer Brideshead Revisited. And as far as literature goes, I prefer Age of Innocence and Portrait of a Lady.

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Blogger Monkey said...

My favorite Waugh is Vile Bodies (then The Loved One and Brideshead).

9:39 AM  

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