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Home » Books » Fiction & Literature » Classics

A Handful of Dust

Penguin Modern Classics

By Evelyn Waugh, Robert Murray Davis (Volume editor)

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Format: Paperback, 288 pages
Published In: United Kingdom, 07 December 2000
Taking its title from T.S. Eliot's modernist poem The Waste Land, Evelyn Waugh's A Handful of Dust is a chronicle of Britain's decadence and social disintegration between the First and Second World Wars. This Penguin Modern Classics edition is edited with an introduction and notes by Robert Murray Davis. After seven years of marriage, the beautiful Lady Brenda Last is 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. Brilliantly combining tragedy, comedy and savage irony, A Handful of Dust captures the irresponsible mood of the 'crazy and sterile generation' between the wars. This breakdown of the Last marriage is a painful, comic re-working of Waugh's own divorce, and a symbol of the disintegration of society. If you enjouyed A Handful of Dust, you might like Waugh's Vile Bodies, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.'One of the twentieth century's most chilling and bitter novels; and one of its best'Nicholas Lezard, Guardian'One of the most distinguished novels of the century'Frank Kermode'This is a masterpiece of stylish satire, and is funny, too ... a marvellous book'John Banville, Irish Times

About the Author

Evelyn Waugh was born in Hampstead in 1903, second son of Arthur Waugh, publisher and literary critic, and brother of Alec Waugh, the popular novelist. He was educated at Lancing and Hertford College, Oxford, where he read Modern History. In 1928 he published his first work, a life of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and his first novel, Decline and Fall, which was soon followed by Vile Bodies (1930), Black Mischief (1932), A Handful of Dust (1934) and Scoop (1938). During these years he travelled extensively in most parts of Europe, the Near East, Africa and tropical America, and published a number of travel books, including Labels (1930), Remote People, (1931), Ninety-Two Days (1934) and Waugh in Abyssinia (1936). In 1939 he was commissioned in the Royal Marines and later transferred to the Royal Horse Guards, serving in the Middle East and in Yugoslavia. In 1942 he published Put Out More Flags and then in 1945 Brideshead Revisited. When the Going was Good and The Loved One preceded Men at Arms, which came out in 1952, the first volume of 'The Sword of Honour' trilogy, and won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. The other volumes, Officers and Gentlemen and Unconditional Surrender, followed in 1955 and 1961. He died in 1966.

Reviews

"A vicious, witty novel." --"New York Times ""Waugh's technique is relentless and razor-edged...By any standard it is super satire." --"Chicago Daily News""The most mature and the best written novel that Mr. Waugh has yet produced." --"New Statesman & Nation ""A story both tragic and hilariously funny, that seems to move along without aid from its author...Unquestionably the best book Mr. Waugh has written." --"Saturday Review " "A vicious, witty novel." --"New York Times" "Waugh's technique is relentless and razor-edged...By any standard it is super satire." --"Chicago Daily News""The most mature and the best written novel that Mr. Waugh has yet produced." --"New Statesman & Nation" "A story both tragic and hilariously funny, that seems to move along without aid from its author...Unquestionably the best book Mr. Waugh has written." --"Saturday Review"

EAN: 9780141183961
ISBN: 0141183969
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Dimensions: 19.8 x 12.9 x 1.7 centimetres (0.22 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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1 review(s)
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Kathryn Thomas on
 
I can't believe the characters in this story can be so selfish and superficial. Waugh sets a parody of London society during the early 20th century. Brenda forms an affair with Mr Beaver, a parasite of the upper class. My initial thoughts of Tony was of someone naive and totally absorbed in their own life yet he surprised me with his retaliation and resolution to avoid the norms of the day.

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