Literary reviews by Tim Love.
Warning: Rather than reviews, these are often notes in preparation for reviews that were never finished, or pleas for help with understanding pieces. See Litref Reviews - a rationale for details.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

"Decline and Fall" by Evelyn Waugh (David Campbell Publishers, 1993)

I have trouble with novels that are supposed to be funny. This one, first published in 1928, edges well into farce and is funnier than most. Lord Tangent and Lady Circumference get together with Dingy, Pennyfeather and co in a tale of unremitting bathos and bad behaviour.

  • Captain Grimes continued his lament for some time in deep bitterness of heart. Presently he became silent and stared at his glass.
    'I wonder,' said Mr Prendergast, 'I wonder whether I could have just a little more of this very excellent pheasant?'
    , p.86
  • 'I don't believe,' said Mr Prendergast, 'that people would ever fall in love or want to be married if they hadn't been told about it. It's like abroad: no one would want to go there if they hadn't been told it existed. Don't you agree?'
    'I don't think you can be quite right,' said Paul; 'you see, animals fall in love quite a lot, don't they?'
    'Do they?' said Mr Prendergast. 'I didn't know that. What an extraordinary thing! But then I had an aunt whose cat used to put its paw up to its mouth when it yawned. It's wonderful what animals can be taught'
    , p.87
  • '... Married life is not all beer and skittles, I don't mind telling you. It's not Flossie, mind; she's been hardly any trouble at all. In a way I've got quite to like her', p.91
  • 'Have you at any time been detained in a mental home or similar institution? If so, give particulars.'
    'I was at Scone College, Oxford, for two years,' said Paul.
    The Doctor looked up for the first time. 'Don't you dare to make jokes here, my man,' he said, 'or I'll soon have you in a strait-jacket in less than no time'
    , p.138

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