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A Handful Of Dust : Popular Penguins
Evelyn Waugh's A Handful of Dust is a satirical depiction
of the 'sterile' generation between the wars. It tells the story of
bored Lady Brenda Last, who abandons her husband's Gothic pile to
conduct an affair with shallow socialite John Beaver of the Belgravia
set. A Handful of Dust remains one of the finest tragedies and
comedies of ill manners.
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
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. In 1964 he published his last book, A Little Learning,
the first volume of an autobiography. Evelyn Waugh was received into
the Roman Catholic Church in 1930 and his biography of the Elizabethan
Jesuit martyr, Edmund Campion, was awarded the Hawthornden Prize in
1936. In 1959 he published the official Life of Ronald Knox.
For many years he lived with his wife and six children in the West
Country. He died in 1966.
Waugh said of his work: 'I regard writing not as investigation
of character but as an exercise in the use of language, and with this I
am obsessed. I have no technical psychological interest. It is drama,
speech and events that interest me.' Mark Amory called Evelyn Waugh
'one of the five best novelists in the English language this century',
while Harold Acton described him as having 'the sharp eye of a Hogarth
alternating with that of the Ancient Mariner'.
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