Waugh, Evelyn

Tagged: Author

(1903-1966) UK author, known mostly for a series of black inter-War Satires, such as Decline and Fall (1928) and A Handful of Dust (1934), and for Brideshead Revisited: The Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder (1945). Some of his early novels, like Black Mischief (1932) and Scoop (1938), utilize imaginary African countries for satirical purposes, and the Near Future Vile Bodies (1930) ends in an apocalyptic Europe torn by a final War – but this is no more than a sardonic flourish for a brief closing chapter titled "Happy Ending". Only a few examples of Waugh's fiction make genuine use of sf displacements. The American protagonist (named Rip Van Winkle) of "Out of Depth: An Experiment begun in Shaftesbury Avenue and Ended in Time" (December 1933 Harper's Bazaar) undergoes Time Travel via a combination of magical wish-granting and a car crash to ruined London five centuries hence, inhabited by white "savages" – an "unlettered race" depending on oral tradition – with civilization represented by black African colonists including, characteristically, a Catholic mission. Scott-King's Modern Europe (abridged Summer 1947 Cornhill; vt "A Sojourn in Neutralia", November 1947 Hearst's International/Cosmopolitan; 1947 chap) satirizes post-World War Two totalitarianism through the imaginary state of Neutralia. Love Among the Ruins: A Romance of the Near Future (1953 chap) – also included in Tactical Exercise (coll 1954) – combines the chemical coercion of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World (1932) with the drabness and scarcity of the needs of life of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) in a brief but savage attack on the imagined joylessness of a Welfare State UK a few decades hence. Miles Plastic, his free will bureaucratically threatened, his lover co-opted by the Dystopia socialism had made inevitable, takes refuge in "gemlike, hymeneal, auspicious" acts of arson. It is a book, like most of Waugh's work, in which humour only brings out the more clearly radical disaffection and despair. [JC/DRL]

Evelyn Arthur St John Waugh

born London: 28 October 1903

died Combe Florey, Somerset: 10 April 1966

works

links

Previous versions of this entry

Website design and build: STEEL

Site ©2011 Gollancz, SFE content ©2011 SFE Ltd.