Vile Bodies

Vile Bodies

Book - 1999
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Evelyn Waugh's second novel, "Vile Bodies" is his tribute to London's smart set. It introduces us to society as it used to be but that now is gone forever, and probably for good.
Publisher: Boston : Back Bay Books, [1999]
ISBN: 9780316926119
0316926116
Branch Call Number: FIC WAUGH
Characteristics: 321 p. ; 20 cm.

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dennismmiller
Mar 02, 2019

Adam wants to marry Nina. Nina wants to marry Adam. Unfortunately, he doesn't have any money. Their pursuit of happiness amidst the anarchic social swirl of 1920s London is at the center of Vile Bodies, but it is the unsettled conditions underlying the swirl itself that are the real target of Waugh's satire. So, once again, this time in prose, Prufrock wanders unaware into the wasteland.

j
jwfolk
Oct 29, 2018

This was quite amusing, but in a limited manner for current readers. I believe that it would have been far more understandable for readers of the era; names, caricatures, parties: all may have been recognizable to an informed reader of the period.

Waugh's writing is somewhat breathy and brittle, but certainly fluid. There are passages I particularly liked, such as that from which the title is taken: "'Oh, Nina, what a lot of parties.' (Masked parties, Savage parties, Victorian parties, Greek parties, Wild West parties, Russian parties, Circus parties, parties where one had to dress as somebody else, almost naked parties in St. John's Wood, parties in flats and studios and houses and ships and hotels and night clubs, in windmills and swimming baths, tea parties at school where one ate muffins and meringues and tinned crab, parties at Oxford where one drank brown sherry and smoked Turkish cigarettes, dull dances in London and comic dances in Scotland and disgusting dances in Paris–all that succession and repetition of massed humanity....Those vile bodies....)"

It ends on the battlefield of the First World War, and that makes for a sober end, but one that features a return of one of the early angels of the book, sullied and shop-worn, eager to engage. It is a grim business, however, seeped in irony.

I would read it again.

l
lReaderl
Oct 06, 2016

Wonderful satire written about the young generation of England and their outlook on life as World War II is unraveling. Straightforward read--recommended.

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