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The Loved One ()


Brothers Judd Top 100 of the 20th Century: Novels (87)

After a brief, apparently unpleasant, stay in Hollywood--he had been commissioned to adapt his novel Brideshead Revisited for the screen--Evelyn Waugh wrote this wonderfully wicked satire of the movie business, the funeral industry, lowbrow Americans and whatever other hapless targets wandered within range of his savage pen.   Dennis Barlow is a young British poet, who, having lost his movie job, is temporarily employed at The Happier Hunting Ground, a pet cemetery modeled after the hallowed Whispering Glades, graveyard to the stars.  But such a lowly job is anathema to the British expatriate community, as Sir Ambrose Abercrombie informs him:

    We limeys have a peculiar position to keep up, you know, Barlow.  They may laugh at us a bit--the
    way we talk and the way we dress; our monocles--they may think us cliquey and stand-offish. but,
    by God, they respect us.  Your five-to-two is a judge of quality.  He knows what he's buying and
    it's only the finest type of Englishman that you meet out here.  I often feel like an ambassador,
    Barlow.  It's a responsibility, I can tell you, and in various degrees every Englishman out here
    shares it.  We can't all be at the top of the tree but we are all men of responsibility.  You never find
    an Englishman among the under-dogs--except in England, of course.  That's understood out here,
    thanks to the example we've set.  There are jobs that an Englishman just doesn't take.

However, when Barlow's roommate, Sir Francis Hinsley, is abruptly dismissed from his studio job and hangs himself, Abercrombie and his fellow Cricket Club members depend on Barlow to arrange the burial--after all, he knows about how to dispose of animal remains, how much different can it be?

So Barlow heads over to Whispering Glades where he is treated to a hilariously garish tour and sales pitch.  He meets and falls in love with one of the cosmeticians there, Aimée Thanatogenos, but must hide the truth about his embarrassing job, particularly since she is also smitten with Mr. Joyboy, the legendary embalmer at Whispering Glades.  When she proves unresponsive to his own poetry, Barlow woos her with passages from the great poets, the works of whom she is utterly ignorant.

Naturally, it all goes bung, as Barlow's various frauds are revealed and Aimée kills herself.  Barlow extorts some money out of the scandal fearing Joyboy and buries her at the Hunting Grounds, so:

    Tomorrow and on every anniversary as long as the Happier Hunting Ground existed a postcard
    would go to Mr. Joyboy:  Your little Aimée is wagging her tail in heaven tonight, thinking of you.

Waugh lays bare a Hollywood where all is pretense and illusion, where human lives--never mind human feelings--are meaningless, where semantic niceties, like calling a corpse a "Loved One" are intended to mask reality.  It is brutal, and unfortunately still timely, and quite certainly one of the best novels ever written about the movie industry.  It is also just a screaming hoot.

(Reviewed:)

Grade: (A)

  

Websites:

Evelyn Waugh Links:
    -Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966)(kirjasto)
    -The Columbia Encyclopedia: Sixth Edition.  2000: Waugh, Evelyn Arthur St. John
    -FEATURED AUTHOR: Evelyn Waugh (NY Times Archives)
    -OBIT:  Evelyn Waugh, Satirical Novelist, Is Dead at 62 (Special to The New York Times,  April 11, 1966)
    -TOP 100 CATHOLICS OF THE CENTURY: #97 Evelyn Waugh (DAILY CATHOLIC)
    -BIO: Evelyn Waugh--Catholic Convert & Writer (St. Joseph Messenger)
    -Doubting Hall : A Guided Tour Around Evelyn Waugh
    -PROFILE : Evelyn Waugh : The Best and the Wost ( Charles J. Rolo, Atlantic Monthly, 1954)
    -PROFILE : Evelyn Waugh : The Height of His Powers (L.E. Sissman, Atlantic Monthly, 1972)

    -ESSAY: from The Road to Damascus: The Spiritual Pilgrimage of Fifteen Converts to Catholicism (Evelyn Waugh)
    -ESSAY: St. Helena Empress (Evelyn Waugh)
    -ESSAY: The Capture of Campion (Evelyn Waugh)
    -LETTER: Evelyn Waugh on the Changes in the Mass (1965, Latin Mass Magazine)
    -EXCERPTS: Waugh Diaries (Aquinas Cafe)
    -INTERVIEW:  An Interview With Evelyn Waugh (HARVEY BREIT, NY Times, March 13, 1949)
    -Evelyn Waugh: The Loved One
    -ESSAY: Deadly Satire, Saving Grace: The Faith & Work of Evelyn Waugh (James E. Person, Jr., June 2005, Touchstone)
    -Doubting Hall: site dedicated to the works of the English novelist Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966)
    -Evelyn Waugh World Wide Resources
    -Brideshead Revisited
    -ESSAY: St. Evelyn Waugh (George Weigel, First Things)
    -REVIEW ESSAY: THE PERMANENT ADOLESCENT: The vices of Evelyn Waugh are what made him a king of comedy and of tragedy. (Christopher Hitchens, May 2003, The Atlantic)
    -ESSAY : Wealth, Privilege and Decline and Fall :  Evelyn Waugh was a staunch critic of social privilege, says Derek Copold (Spintech)
    -ESSAY: David Lodge: Waugh's Comic Waste Land (NY Review of Books)
    -ESSAY: An Eccentric Novelist in the War (Paul Burdett, HistoryNet)
    -ESSAY: A Handful of Dust: Return to Guiana (V.S. NAIPAUL, NY Review of Books)
    -ESSAY: EVELYN WAUGH: Wife left scars (The Straits Times)
    -ESSAY: "Evelyn Waugh- That's What's Wrong with England" (Patrick Adcock, Professor of English)
    -ESSAY: Declaration of Waugh: How Evelyn Waugh's 'late lunacy' was triggered by a conversation with Alan Brien at White's Club... (The Oldie)
    -ESSAY: “The consecration of the heart”:   Ronald Knox reconsidered (Paul Dean, New Criterion)
    -STUDY GUIDE: Evelyn Waugh A Handful of Dust (1934) (plot summary, etc)
    -DISCUSSION: Libertarian Pop Culture Forum: Evelyn Waugh and Aldous Huxley
    -ETEXT: A Companion to Evelyn Waugh's Sword of Honour (David Cliffe)
    -ESSAY: The Crouchback tendency: Sword of Honour enthralled millions of television viewers but it overlooked a profound truth about wars (Neal Ascherson, January 7, 2001, The Observer)
    -ESSAY: Evelyn Waugh on War And Honor (Milton Batiste, LewRockwell.com)
    -ESSAY: Evelyn Waugh: The Best and the Worst (Charles J. Rolo, October 1954, The Atlantic Monthly)
    -ESSAY: Put Out More Flags (Charlotte Hays, Fall 2001, Independent Women's Quarterly)
    -REVIEW: of The Sword of Honour Trilogy by Evelyn Waugh (Michael Dirda, The Crisis)
    -REVIEW: of The Loved One (Orville Prescott, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of Brideshead Revisited Evelyn Waugh's Finest Novel (JOHN K. HUTCHENS, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of A Handful of Dust (Anatole Broyard, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of A Handful of Dust (Nicholas Lezard, London Guardian)
    -REVIEW : of The Sword of Honor Trilogy by Evelyn Waugh : A Maverick Historian :  Rarely has comedy of manners been so artfully infused with pathos as in Evelyn Waugh's recently reissued Sword of Honour trilogy: "the finest work of fiction in  English," our author argues, "to emerge from World War II" (Penelope Lively , Atlantic Monthly)
    -REVIEW: of Decline and Fall By Evelyn Waugh (A.E.C., London Guardian,  Friday October 12, 1928)
    -REVIEW: John Gross: Waugh Revisited, NY Review of Books
        A Little Learning by Evelyn Waugh
    -REVIEW: D.A.N. Jones: Waugh Revisited, NY Review of Books
        Basil Seal Rides Again by Evelyn Waugh
    -REVIEW: of The Complete Stories of Evelyn Waugh (Algis Valiunas, American Spectator)
    -REVIEW: of The Complete Stories of Evelyn Waugh (ROGER GATHMAN, Austin Chronicle)
    -REVIEW: of 'Stories of Evelyn Waugh' shows why the author is known for his novels (Clarence Brown, The Seattle Times)
    -REVIEW: of The Diaries of Evelyn Waugh (FRANK KERMODE, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: Nigel Dennis: Fabricated Man, NY Review of Books
        The Diaries of Evelyn Waugh edited by Michael Davie
    -REVIEW: Robert Craft: Too Little Waugh, NY Review of Books
        Evelyn Waugh: A Little Order A Selection From His Journalism
    -REVIEW: of The Life of Evelyn Waugh by Douglas Lane Patey (Kenneth R. Craycraft, Jr., First Things)
    -REVIEW: Conor Cruise O'Brien: Nobs and Snobs, NY Review of Books
        Evelyn Waugh: The Early Years, 1903-1939 by Martin Stannard
    -REVIEW: of Martin Stannard's "Evelyn Waugh: The Early Years, 1903-1939," (Edmund Morris, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: Wilfrid Sheed: Portrait of the Artist as a Self-Made Man, NY review of Books
        Evelyn Waugh: The Later Years 1939-1966 by Martin Stannard
    -REVIEW: of Martin Stannard's "Evelyn Waugh: The Later Years, 1939-1966," (Penelope Fitzgerald, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: Clive James: Waugh's Last Stand, NY Review of Books
        The Letters of Evelyn Waugh edited by Mark Amory
    -REVIEW: of "The Letters of Evelyn Waugh and Diana Cooper" (William F. Buckley, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Blood, Class and Nostalgia: Anglo-American Ironies by Christopher Hitchens (Stewart Donovan, Antigonish Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Letters of Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh (James Campbell, Paradigm Magazine)
    -REVIEW: of THE LETTERS OF NANCY MITFORD & EVELYN WAUGH (Katherine Knorr, International Herald Tribune)
    -REVIEW: of Selina Hastings' "Evelyn Waugh: A Biography," (Hugh  Kenner, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Evelyn Waugh: A Biography by Selina Hastings (John Banville, London Guardian)
    -REVIEW: The Possessed (NOEL ANNAN. NY Review of Books)
    -REVIEW: of At War with Waugh by WF Deedes (Diana Mosley, Evening Standard)
    -BOOKLIST: Editor's pick  Michael Korda, editor of Jacqueline Susann and Tennessee Williams, picks his five favorite novels of the past 40 years (MICHAEL KORDA, Salon)
    -BOOKLIST: Thomas Swick's top 10 travel books of the 20th century (Salon)
 
GENERAL:
    -ESSAY: England's Doubt: When Christianity in England reformulated itself in the 18th century as a scientific hypothesis, it became vulnerable to scientific refutation. (Prospect)
    -ESSAY: The Necessity for Christianity (Professor Paul Johnson)
    -ESSAY: The Making of the English Middle Class: Under Margaret Thatcher and now under Tony Blair, Britain has become markedly less class-bound. How did this happen? (Geoffrey Wheatcroft, The Atlantic)

Book-related and General Links:
    -Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966)(kirjasto)
    -ENCYCLOPAEDIA BRITANNICA: Your search: "evelyn waugh"
    -The Columbia Encyclopedia: Sixth Edition.  2000: Waugh, Evelyn Arthur St. John
    -FEATURED AUTHOR: Evelyn Waugh (NY Times Archives)
    -OBIT:  Evelyn Waugh, Satirical Novelist, Is Dead at 62 (Special to The New York Times,  April 11, 1966)
    -TOP 100 CATHOLICS OF THE CENTURY: #97 Evelyn Waugh (DAILY CATHOLIC)
    -BIO: Evelyn Waugh--Catholic Convert & Writer (St. Joseph Messenger)
    -Doubting Hall : A Guided Tour Around Evelyn Waugh
    -PROFILE : Evelyn Waugh : The Best and the Wost ( Charles J. Rolo, Atlantic Monthly, 1954)
    -PROFILE : Evelyn Waugh : The Height of His Powers (L.E. Sissman, Atlantic Monthly, 1972)

    -ESSAY: from The Road to Damascus: The Spiritual Pilgrimage of Fifteen Converts to Catholicism (Evelyn Waugh)
    -ESSAY: St. Helena Empress (Evelyn Waugh)
    -ESSAY: The Capture of Campion (Evelyn Waugh)
    -LETTER: Evelyn Waugh on the Changes in the Mass (1965, Latin Mass Magazine)
    -EXCERPTS: Waugh Diaries (Aquinas Cafe)
    -INTERVIEW:  An Interview With Evelyn Waugh (HARVEY BREIT, NY Times, March 13, 1949)
    -Evelyn Waugh: The Loved One
    -Doubting Hall: site dedicated to the works of the English novelist Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966)
    -Evelyn Waugh World Wide Resources
    -Brideshead Revisited
    -ESSAY: St. Evelyn Waugh (George Weigel, First Things)
    -ESSAY : Wealth, Privilege and Decline and Fall :  Evelyn Waugh was a staunch critic of social privilege, says Derek Copold (Spintech)
    -ESSAY: David Lodge: Waugh's Comic Waste Land (NY Review of Books)
    -ESSAY: An Eccentric Novelist in the War (Paul Burdett, HistoryNet)
    -ESSAY: A Handful of Dust: Return to Guiana (V.S. NAIPAUL, NY Review of Books)
    -ESSAY: EVELYN WAUGH: Wife left scars (The Straits Times)
    -ESSAY: "Evelyn Waugh- That's What's Wrong with England" (Patrick Adcock, Professor of English)
    -ESSAY: Declaration of Waugh: How Evelyn Waugh's 'late lunacy' was triggered by a conversation with Alan Brien at White's Club... (The Oldie)
    -ESSAY: ìThe consecration of the heartî:   Ronald Knox reconsidered (Paul Dean, New Criterion)
    -STUDY GUIDE: Evelyn Waugh A Handful of Dust (1934) (plot summary, etc)
    -DISCUSSION: Libertarian Pop Culture Forum: Evelyn Waugh and Aldous Huxley
    -REVIEW: of The Loved One (Orville Prescott, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of Brideshead Revisited Evelyn Waugh's Finest Novel (JOHN K. HUTCHENS, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of A Handful of Dust (Anatole Broyard, NY Times)
    -REVIEW: of A Handful of Dust (Nicholas Lezard, London Guardian)
    -REVIEW : of The Sword of Honor Trilogy by Evelyn Waugh : A Maverick Historian :  Rarely has comedy of manners been so artfully infused with pathos as in Evelyn Waugh's recently reissued Sword of Honour trilogy: "the finest work of fiction in  English," our author argues, "to emerge from World War II" (Penelope Lively , Atlantic Monthly)
    -REVIEW: of Decline and Fall By Evelyn Waugh (A.E.C., London Guardian,  Friday October 12, 1928)
    -REVIEW: John Gross: Waugh Revisited, NY Review of Books
        A Little Learning by Evelyn Waugh
    -REVIEW: D.A.N. Jones: Waugh Revisited, NY Review of Books
        Basil Seal Rides Again by Evelyn Waugh
    -REVIEW: of The Complete Stories of Evelyn Waugh (Algis Valiunas, American Spectator)
    -REVIEW: of The Complete Stories of Evelyn Waugh (ROGER GATHMAN, Austin Chronicle)
    -REVIEW: of 'Stories of Evelyn Waugh' shows why the author is known for his novels (Clarence Brown, The Seattle Times)
    -REVIEW: of The Diaries of Evelyn Waugh (FRANK KERMODE, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: Nigel Dennis: Fabricated Man, NY Review of Books
        The Diaries of Evelyn Waugh edited by Michael Davie
    -REVIEW: Robert Craft: Too Little Waugh, NY Review of Books
        Evelyn Waugh: A Little Order A Selection From His Journalism
    -REVIEW: of The Life of Evelyn Waugh by Douglas Lane Patey (Kenneth R. Craycraft, Jr., First Things)
    -REVIEW: Conor Cruise O'Brien: Nobs and Snobs, NY Review of Books
        Evelyn Waugh: The Early Years, 1903-1939 by Martin Stannard
    -REVIEW: of Martin Stannard's "Evelyn Waugh: The Early Years, 1903-1939," (Edmund Morris, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: Wilfrid Sheed: Portrait of the Artist as a Self-Made Man, NY review of Books
        Evelyn Waugh: The Later Years 1939-1966 by Martin Stannard
    -REVIEW: of Martin Stannard's "Evelyn Waugh: The Later Years, 1939-1966," (Penelope Fitzgerald, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: Clive James: Waugh's Last Stand, NY Review of Books
        The Letters of Evelyn Waugh edited by Mark Amory
    -REVIEW: of "The Letters of Evelyn Waugh and Diana Cooper" (William F. Buckley, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Blood, Class and Nostalgia: Anglo-American Ironies by Christopher Hitchens (Stewart Donovan, Antigonish Review)
    -REVIEW: of The Letters of Nancy Mitford and Evelyn Waugh (James Campbell, Paradigm Magazine)
    -REVIEW: of THE LETTERS OF NANCY MITFORD & EVELYN WAUGH (Katherine Knorr, International Herald Tribune)
    -REVIEW: of Selina Hastings' "Evelyn Waugh: A Biography," (Hugh  Kenner, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Evelyn Waugh: A Biography by Selina Hastings (John Banville, London Guardian)
    -REVIEW: The Possessed (NOEL ANNAN. NY Review of Books)
    -BOOKLIST: Editor's pick  Michael Korda, editor of Jacqueline Susann and Tennessee Williams, picks his five favorite novels of the past 40 years (MICHAEL KORDA, Salon)
    -BOOKLIST: Thomas Swick's top 10 travel books of the 20th century (Salon)
 

GENERAL:
    -ESSAY: England's Doubt: When Christianity in England reformulated itself in the 18th century as a scientific hypothesis, it became vulnerable to scientific refutation. (Prospect)
    -ESSAY: The Necessity for Christianity (Professor Paul Johnson)
    -ESSAY: The Making of the English Middle Class: Under Margaret Thatcher and now under Tony Blair, Britain has become markedly less class-bound. How did this happen? (Geoffrey Wheatcroft, The Atlantic)

Comments:

Thanks for your concise and very enjoyable review of one of my personal favorite books which also had a great movie based on the book.

You are right on target about the book being very relevant today especially in its documenting of shallow folks who prey upon other folks at their vulnerable moments.

- oldkayaker

- Nov-02-2005, 20:55

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