Northern Illinois University Press


The Ironic World of Evelyn Waugh

A Study of Eight Novels

Frederick L. Beaty

Proclaimed "the greatest novelist" of his generation by one its foremost historians, Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966) portrays the intricacies of human life on a broad and colorful canvas. His many famous novels—as well as his lesser-known nonfiction writings—continue to attract readers and to challenge critics. The heart of their appeal, Beaty shows, is Waugh's rich and varied use of irony to explore the texture of society.

This study is the first detailed examination of irony in Waugh's fiction. By delving into eight novels Beaty reveals how irony is applied to theme, plot, and character. He further demonstrates that an understanding of irony not only enhances readers' enjoyment but also is crucial to an appreciation of Waugh's artistry.

Beaty explains that during much of Waugh's literary career the novelist's instinctive way of approaching the vicissitudes of life was predominantly ironic, though his perspective was later modified by religious conviction. Thus irony was interwoven into the fabric of Waugh's writing—both as a worldview and as a methodology for presenting ideas, events, and characters. Drawing on definitions of recent ironologists, Beaty illustrates Waugh's numerous literary techniques and offers original insights into their functioning.

(1992) 217 pp.
ISBN: 978-0-87580-562-7
paper $18.00

Table of Contents

1 Irony as Waugh's Perspective and Method
2 Decline and Fall
3 Vile Bodies
4 Black Mischief
5 A Handful of Dust
6 Scoop
7 Work Suspended
5 Brideshead Revisited
9 The Loved One

Afterword
Notes
Selected Bibliography
Index

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ISBN: 978-0-87580-562-7
paper $18.00