Thursday, March 16, 2006

Vile Bodies

On your behalf I've been ploughing through Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies in search of the joke I mentioned in an earlier post.

It's forty years since I first read the book and will be as long again (if I'm spared, which seems unlikely) before I'll attempt it again. It's Waugh's second novel, written in 1930. It's described in the blurb as "experimental". Stephen Fry - the British vaguely-literary personality calls it Waugh's "funniest novel". Which is just the sort of puffery which gives blurbs a bad name.

The book is completely worthless. As are the characters that populate its pages. Bright young things mostly, they are all shallow, stupid, egotistical, work-shy, amoral and, aptly, vile. If you were feeling sympathetic (which you won't be after you've read a few pages) you might describe the book as a satire. More likely you'll want to go and clean your teeth and rinse your mouth out after you've put it down half way through.

To cap it all, the joke I was looking for isn't in it.

I just hope you feel suitably guilty at what you're putting me through in my quest for historical accuracy.


  1. Waugh--what is he good for?

  2. Aha!! Shows you're a literary gent after all. You know Evelyn's a he. Funny name for a bloke, though, don't you think.

    His later books are much better. The trilogy about the Second World War which I'm about to start. I used to love them when I was younger.

    I thought about you when I mentioned "experimental" in my review. It's something you said was important in an earlier comment - and I agree. I'll address the topic in more detail next week.