The underlying pessimism of Evelyn Waugh's early satirical novels



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



The people who inhabited the social scene of London during the 1920's and early 1930's are portrayed by Evelyn Waugh as deserving of laughter but also of sympathy and pity. In Decline and Fall, Vile Bodies, and A Handful of Dust, Waugh humorously satirizes the antics of the social scene, exposing the many failings of the characters and of their society. However he also makes apparent the frustration and loss of value in the lives of those pictured. The characters' lives lack purpose because they have no sense of tradition or of the values Inherent in it. Waugh chooses tradition as the "good" that could give meaning to the Ilves of modem men; ironically, the knowledge of this tradition is inaccessible to modem society because the links to the past have been too completely severed. Waugh displays little hope in his outlook for modem man.