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A Handful of Dust ()


Modern Library Top 100 Novels of the 20th Century (34)

    I will show you something different from either
    Your shadow at morning striding behind you
    Or you shadow at evening rising to meet you;
    I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
           -The Wasteland (T.S. Eliot 1888-1965)

In what many consider his greatest novel, Evelyn Waugh--fueled by the essence of this quote from the Wasteland, the failure of his own marriage, a chance meeting with a British expatriate in South American and his own conversion to Catholicism--creates a savage satire of modern Britain.  Tony Last (presumably the last of his tribe)  is a member of Britain's declining landed gentry.  He's barely managed to hold the family estate together but he has a successful marriage (or so he believes) and a wonderful son.  Then, in short order, the boy is killed in a horse riding accident, his wife leaves him for a callow youth and Tony travels to the Amazon on an ill-fated expedition.  In the end, Tony finds himself stranded in the jungle with a reclusive Englishman who makes him read the works of Dickens aloud.

From the wife who casually abandons her marriage, to the member of Parliament whose greatest achievement is a new regulation on pork bellies to the similarities Tony finds between the civilized British and the Amazon savages, Waugh depicts a Britain that is sunk in amorality and has abandoned all pretense of greatness.  Long before WWII brought down the final curtain on the Empire, he presents a despairing portrait of a society bereft of any moral bearings.  The final image, of the decent Englishman reciting the greatest of England's cultural achievements into the wilderness, is an especially poignant metaphor for what Waugh felt his country had been reduced to in the Modern age.

(Reviewed:)

Grade: (B)

  

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)
    -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: 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 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)

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