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  • June 26 2012 | by James Morris

    I heartily agree Joseph. I simply cannot understand how anyone finds it a 'masterpiece'. But certainly many Wavians do. I think it appeals to maybe old soldiers. There's no humour there for me. It's hard to follow.

    There's something in a letter to him...one of his famous celebrity women correspondents...can't remember. But she said something like (when the whole trilogy was finally finished) 'I was expecting War and Peace, and I got Mrs Dale's Diary'.

    It is like a diary. Or like a very lengthy military despatch.

    I know there are deep themes. A lot is made of 'quantative judgements don't apply'. What is honour...but it is hard going.

    Like you it took me 3 attempts. Really just out of loyalty.

    Waugh was certainly hit and miss. I like bits of Decline and Fall, not much in Vile Bodies, nor Scoop either. He really only gets going for me with A handful of Dust.
    And then of course Brideshead. As you say his real masterpiece.

    His really interesting stuff you could say is -his journalistic pieces, letters. I would also recommended the novellas-The Loved One, Scott King's Modern Europe and Love Among The Ruins (a prophetic book much more accurate than Orwell's 1984).
  • June 26 2012 | by Joseph Pearce

    As a post script to my post, and lest I be misunderstood, I was not saying in reference to Virginia that her immorality was delightful but that the character is a delightfully humorous portrayal of a vacuous immoral woman. Similarly, with regard to my reference to Ben Ritchie-Hook, I was not expressing support for psychopathic behaviour but expressing my delight at the humorous and almost likable madman that Waugh has created.
  • June 27 2012 | by joseph pearce

    James, It's gratifying to know that we think alike in all things Wavian. I concur with your judgment about Waugh's earlier work also. I found Decline and Fall good in places, but was disappointed in Vile Bodies and Scoop, both of which were very unevan, though indubitably very funny in places. A Handful of Dust is my favourite novel, after Brideshead.
  • June 27 2012 | by James Morris

    Dear Joseph

    After your soporific experience with SofH maybe a restorative would be; A Little Order- A Selection of Waugh's Journalism. It really has him at his biting best. I think you would relish it.