[BOOKS] The Sword of Honour Trilogy AUTHOR Evelyn Waugh – freewebdesing.com
Evelyn Waugh did not have a good war as a soldier however he was able to transmute his uncomfortable personal experience into something wonderful Through Guy Crouchback the detached observer and would be knight who mistakenly believes his private honour will be satisfied by war Evelyn Waugh perfectly captures the bureaucracy pettiness absurdity humour and confusion of war It all rings true with numerous ittle details that make this book so satisfying It s everything that great iterature should be beautifully written evocative poignant funny tragic and profound I wonder how many of the great characters are also based on real people I really want Jumbo Trotter Apthorpe Ludovic Box Bender Trimmer Virginia Peregrine and of course Brigadier Ritchie Hook to be real characters as I do the denizens of Bellamy s clubIn April 2013 I finally read Brideshead Revisited and was captivated from start to finish You probably don t need me to tell you it s a masterpiece Before embarking on Sword of Honour I would never have believed that Evelyn Waugh could have written two masterpieces He has Brideshead Revisited and Sword of Honour That s in addition to all the other wonderful fiction and non fiction Epic and extraordinary You really should read Sword of Honour A wonderful book55NOTE ABOUT DIFFERENT EDITIONSSword of Honour was originally published as three separate volumes Men At Arms 1952 Officers and Gentlemen 1955 and Unconditional Surrender 1961 however Waugh extensively revised these books to create a one volume version Sword of Honour in 1965 and it is this version that Waugh wanted people to read The Penguin Classics version of Sword of Honour contains numerous informative and interesting footnotes and an introduction by Angus Calder each time Waugh changed the text there is also a note Most of sections that Waugh changed or removed was with a view to ensuring that his hero Guy Crouchback is perceived as worldly and experienced than was the case in the original version of the books I can see why Waugh would choose to change the emphasis in this way and I think it makes the overall narrative convincing and effective Waugh s Final WordsEssentially this is Waugh s swansong three novels about the adventures of his uasi autobiographical hero Guy Crouchback in the Second World War gathered together by him and edited into a single volume at the end of his ife This is a compendium of my separate reviews of the individual volumes as I read them followed by a brief consideration of the Trilogy as a whole Men at Arms 1952 suggested Evelyn Waugh s Sword of Honour trilogy the novel seuence that crowned the author s career as something of similar interest to Anthony Powell s Dance to the Music of Time which I am engaged on currently Whereas Powell covers three decades in twelve volumes Waugh treats half a decade in three a fiction distilled from his own checkered experiences as a somewhat older officer in the Second World War I have not reached the euivalent period in the Powell yet but I find it hard to believe that he could be anything ike as immediate touching or downright funny as Waugh For Waugh is a satirist but a satirist with serious concerns and an unusually realistic touch For although this clearly falls into the general category of army comedies a frustrating saga of administrative snafus and occasional action it also comes over as a convincing account of how things must have felt as Britain was muddling through that deceptive period of the phony war before complacency got shattered at DunkirkWaugh s protagonist Guy Crouchback is 36 when this first novel opens A scion of an aristocratic Catholic family that has fallen on bad times he has spent most of his adult ife as an expatriate first in Kenya and Utopian Literature later in Italy Returning home to do his bit he finds most doors closed to a man of his age But a friend of his father s gets him a probationary commission in the Halberdiers an unusual outfit combining ancient regimental pride with an unconventional approach to training andeadership Glad though I am never to have been mixed up in anything In the Zone like this myself I found the descriptions of messife and daily routine to be uite fascinating Guy s position as an older volunteer allows the reader to ook on as a voyeur even as Guy is giving himself heart and soul to his new familyFor this is what I think the book is really about belonging Guy has suffered numerous osses one brother to the previous war another to suicide the family home to debt his years in Kenya and Italy College Apologetics (with Supplemental Reading lost to circumstance and his wife to divorce He is a Catholic in a predominantly Anglican world He isooking for something or someone to give him a family an identity a place to belong He finds this at Overlord, Vol. 3 (light novel): The Bloody Valkyrie least at first in the Halberdiers Anyone who remembers their first days in a new school will feel for him but also smile For by a masterstroke Waugh contrasts Guy with another older volunteer an old Africa hand named Apthorpe who speaks all theingo knows all the ropes possesses all the right euipment It takes a while for us to see Apthorpe as a comic figure the boastful miles gloriosus that he is the saga of his thunderbox or private portable toilet is a masterpiece of farce but meanwhile Guy s failure to move up so uickly has got to hurt Yet it is Guy who is involved in real action at the end in a seuence off the coast of Dakar that is both the culmination of his real military abilities and the end of his ove affair with the regiment It is a very funny book but with the sad tinge of truthOfficers and Gentlemen 1955Let me state the negatives first This the middle novel of Waugh s Sword of Honour trilogy is not a book I would recommend reading out of context Although the references to the first novel Men at Arms are mostly incidental they are freuent and often unexplained The first volume was held together by the story of its protagonist 36 year old Guy Crouchback finding his way into a temporary commission with a rather unusual regiment the Halberdiers in the first years of WW2 Here however Guy disappears for ong stretches Readers of the first volume will recognize secondary characters as old colleagues from the Halberdiers mess or subseuent husbands or Dark Intrusions lovers of Guy s divorced wife but without those connections the first half of the novel may seem rather diffuse Fortunately the ending makes up for itA major theme of the novel is contained in the title Officers and Gentlemen in popular speech are supposed to be synonymous But in wartime not necessarily so Guy as minor aristocracy and a uietly resourceful soldier is decidedly both But much of the focus of the first part of the book is given to an operator called Trimmer A former hairstylist he is certainly no gentleman and pretty useless as an officer too Yet he happens to fill the bill for a nation starved for heroes and after a farcical episode has been inflated into a selfless act of derring do he finds himself promoted far beyond his deserts But gentlemen can fail as officers also there is ateast one character of impeccably blue blood who ets the side down rather badly Although he never seems to win the aurels Guy is the rare touchstone by which most of the others are measured and found wantingThe novel begins in the world of P G Wodehouse upper class twits exchanging vapid repartee in London clubs Soon this changes to satire of a different sort making fun of the self perpetuating bureaucracy of warfare where everyone and everything is referred to by an alphabet soup of initials The comedy would probably mean in the postwar years when people were still reeling from a surfeit of such absurdities at times it seems almost Decade of Despair like a British version of Catch 22But then at the halfway point the tone changes Guy as a member of a commando outfit called Hookforce gets sent to Crete just tooate to prevent the German invasion This part is almost autobiographical and it shows Waugh himself as part of a similarly named force was one of the What Was Lost last to escape Crete before the final surrender Suddenly the picture of the chaos of war becomes horribly true The tone of comedy remains but it is noonger distinguishable from the real thing for war itself can out satirize any satire The Go-Go-Go! last third of the book is a magnificent achievement that almost compensates for the diffuseness of the opening and most certainly sets the stage for the final volumeThe End of the Battle 1961I have to express disappointment though that this final volume was not published in the USA under its original title Unconditional Surrender Perhaps that sounded too negative for a book set in theast years of the Second World War but despite their superficially happy endings Waugh s novels do typically have a dying fall Besides the original title has many meanings beyond the military one It might refer to the protagonist Guy Crouchback s acceptance of his situation in the wartime army seeing many ess able men promoted around and above him It might refer to his ex wife Virginia s surrender to the Catholic faith part of a gentle transformation that develops the character far beyond her former role as a femme fatale This trilogy spanning World War II based in part on Evelyn Waugh's own experiences as an army officer is the author's surpassing achievement as a novelist Its central character is Guy Crouchback head of an ancient but decayed Catholic family who at first.
BOOKS The Sword of Honour Trilogy AUTHOR Evelyn Waugh – freewebdesing.com
Unconditional Surrender 2This third and final part went downhill for me as it becomes increasingly episodic and picaresue Yet again Guy is hanging around London ooking for a job yet again he bumbles through his training and injures his knee yep again Things pick up when he gets sent to Yugoslavia to Reine Mädchensache liaise with communist partisans fighting fascism and we have another of those brief momentsike the one in Crete where Guy actually comes to Animal Babies life and shows some compassion for the Jewish refugees with whom he s confronted But that s soon over For someone who s supposedly concerned with his Catholic spiritual welfare I find Guy remarkably emotionally cold and uncaring view spoiler Virginia has been killed Peregrine too The news did not affect Guy greatly hide spoiler There is something fundamentally wrong with these books referred to here as SOH so I don t have to keep misspelling honour over and over a An immensely entertaining and thought provoking account of one man s experience in WWII Despite Guy Crouchback s thinly veiled fictional version of Evelyn Waugh best efforts to do his part to he is destined to always be on the periphery of the war Contributing but not very heroically Even when he finds himself in the thick of things Battle of Crete May 1941 his experience is as a glorified message boy He is constantly walking from one post to another during the battle An officer without troops No chance to make his mark In the end though Guy s unspectacular wartime career ends up working out for the best He is spared being horrifically wounded and maimed he isn t shattered by his experiences and of course heives I ve never read Evelyn Waugh before Like millions of other Americans I ve seen the television mini series of Brideshead Revisited but this is the first time I ve read any of his work Though I know that others have expressed a distaste for Waugh s satire and prose I found myself ikely it almost instantly I don t know if the upper class and middle class of England were really ike this but I had a great time nevertheless I felt as if I was in an Agatha Christie story and went qasas-ul-quran left when Hercule Poirot went right and found myself in the study with Waugh and his creations There is humor and gravity in this novel Waugh combines the two elements and it works very well I m impressed This is not a glorification of the war or the generation that had to participate in it People are just people Some are heroic while others are cowardly Often at the same time Competence and incompetence go hand in hand Though there is the exaggeration that is to be expected of a work of fiction especially a satirical work of fiction the descriptions of the sheer boredom and ennui and the chaos of Action Now are dead on Armies exist to fight wars and wars are bothudicrous and deadly serious Often at the same time Waugh realized this and he does an excellent job bringing this dichotomy to ifeIf you go into this book expecting a novel about British WWII daring do along the ines of Alistair Maclean or Hammond Innes you will be tremendously disappointed You probably won t get beyond the first fifty pages However if you re wanting to read a novel about how one of the greatest catastrophes in Human history effected the small island of England people societyCatholic church and so on I think you Dead-End Road Mysteries ll enjoy Sword of Honor Manyiterary careers are doomed to go on slightly Hear the Wolves longer than they should and to outlive the author s original engrossing talentSo concludes Christopher Hitchens in a 2003 Atlantic article Evelyn Waugh The Permanent Adolescent reprinted in his collection of essays Arguably Actually the sentence is the first of his concluding paragraph which goes onWaugh himselfived to Valors Measure lament the Second Vatican Council and to deplore the abolition of the Latin Mass which meant that he became not Catholic than the Pope but curmudgeonly than his own confessors and conservative than the Church itself This has the accidentally beautiful result of making Sword of Honour into aiterary memorial not just for a BFI Film Classics lost world but for aost faith In Catholic doctrine one is supposed to hate the sin and Tni Tata Dunia Baru Sistem Pertahanan love the sinner This can be a distinction without a difference if the sin is to be something a Jew a homosexual even a divorcee rather than to do something Non Christian charity reuires however that one forgive Waugh precisely because it was his innate as well as his adopted vices that made him a king of comedy and of tragedy for almost three decadesHitchensays the ground for this conclusion by pointing out that Guy Crouchback the protagonist of the trilogy has to be taken as a stand in for Waugh himself since he s given the same day month and year of birth as was the author s And he expresses views about things that happened in the areas of Europe to which Waugh was posted during WW II that when I read the book I assumed to be ironic in the extreme but perhaps actually reflected the author s own thinking For example Hitchens uotes from Waugh s private journal The Russians now propose a partition of East Prussia It is a fact that now the Germans represent Europe against the world and continues The وصف الاستعباد في مملكة فاس - مذكرات أسير سويدي على عهد السلطان مولاي عبد الله long and didactic closing stages of Sword of Honour are amazingly blatant in the utterance they give to this rather unutterable thought Guy Crouchback regards the Yugoslav partisans as mere ciphers for Stalin sympathizes with theocal Fascists and admires the discipline of the German occupiers We know from many published memoirs that Waugh himself was eventually removed from this theater of operations for precisely that sort of insubordinationnevertheless to segue into my original thoughts on the trilogyI enjoyed the novels tremendously Many Fiend laugh outoud moments but there s a serious story here too and yes it is somewhat somber as it says on the dust jacket Very unusually for me once I started reading the trilogy I read nothing else until finishing the whole thing 700 pages ater I have the Everyman s Library edition which is a really first class book I read the introduction by Frank Kermode after the novels found it very interesting It s argely about the Catholic aristocracy of which Waugh was a converted member There s a real nice one page bibliography of books about Waugh and a very cool Chronology 14 pages PROBE MY ASS (A Reluctant Doctor/Patient Anal Sex erotica story) long of the events in Waugh sife which places them in two different contexts Literary and Historical EventsJust writing this short review The Pedlar and the Bandit King (Scarlet and the White Wolf, less than three years after reading the book makes me want to read them again I guess that s a good recommendationit would be hard to reread without taking Hitchens thoughts into account however Previous review The ConuestNext review Cinderella Man the story of the boxer James BraddockNewer review Down on the Farm gentle humor from the Minnesota northwestPreviousibrary review The Hobbit There and Back Again TolkienNext Marvins Room library review The Once and Future King TH White Men at Arms Part 1 of Sword of HonourWhat fun a bitike a cross between MASH PG Wodehouse and BridesheadAn upper class British Catholic divorc Roberto to the Dark Tower Came leaves his home in Italy at the start of WW2 to try to join the army and eventually succeedsThe story is populated by uirky characters and strange coincidences with glimpses of poignancy Most of the characters are in a perpetual state of genial incomprehension and incompetenceWaugh served in WW2 and if his experience was anythingike what was described it s amazing that we won However there are clearly some parallels as the book is peppered with mentions of specific dates and events helpfully explained in footnotes in my editionApthorpe s too Polyphemus literal thunderbox the old colonel that should have retired but no one uite wants to tell him he s not needed any bizarre and nonsensical bureaucracy all beautifully writtenAnd best of all there are two seuelset s hope they re as goodOfficers and Gentlemen Part 2 of Sword of HonourIn many ways this is very similar to the previous book about Guy Crouchback of the Halberdiers soldiers being resigned to the comic ineptitude of their commanders and all sorts of intriguing characters However this volume has about the tactics and experience of war so that I did slightly Pink Ribbons, Inc. lose track in places despite all the historical footnotes andess outright comedy Star Cookies Comfort less ofife back home Mail Horror Bride (One Nation Under Zombies less Catholic angstess Catholicism altogether etc The Doros asin mga Anghel loucheness in Alexandria was good and accidental heroics of view spoilerblowing up a railway in occupied France because they failed to find the Channel Island they wereooking for hide spoiler The dystopian and satirical world of and unprepared England World War IIIf this were just a review of the ineffective jaundiced sarcastic snobbish effete England portrayed by Evelyn Waugh throughout the Sword of Honor Trilogy this would be a 4 star review It is depressing when it is not This is Evelyn Waugh s final edited version of the Sword of Honour trilogy If you re interested in reading the trilogy you really should read this version as the book is really one ong continuous story with the same characters throughout and some apparently tedious passages have been edited out Highly recommended by me as well. Igures so familiar from Waugh's early satires The deepest pleasures these novels afford come from observing a great satiric writer employ his gifts with extraordinary subtlety delicacy and human feeling for purposes that are ultimately anything but satir.
Nd plot complication It might describe the elegiac atmosphere surrounding the funeral of Guy s elderly father which makes a central set piece of some seriousness And it certainly refers to the book s final sections when Guy is sent to monitor mopping up operations in Yugoslavia as bands of partisans fight other bands with an eye ess to the imminent elimination of the Germans than to positioning themselves in the postwar world with respect to communism and the underlying ethnic tensions that we have seen flare up in recent yearsThis is one section of the book that does not seem at all dated In the earlier parts of the novel as elsewhere in the trilogy I sometimes felt I was reading a roman clef without the key One senses that contemporary readers would recognize the peripatetic civilian Sir Ralph Brompton who manages to have a finger in every pie They would know the uestionable merits of the The Inside Text literary magazine Survival published with government funds And when Guy s Corporal Major Ludovic from Officers and Gentlemen devotes theast years of his war to producing a mammoth best selling novel contemporary readers would have had one or two candidates in mindStill these are minor The Connected Home lacunae What makes the novel work for me are two moral threads running through its episodic structure One is political and muted the dilemma of taking as an ally a country Russia which in every respect other than its anti fascism seems the moral antithesis of traditional English values The other is personal and deep seated Struck at his father s funeral by a sense of his own uselessness Guy prays that God will give him the chance to do some small service which only he could perform for which he had been created In fact he gets two such chances one concerning his ex wife and the other working to help a group of Jewish refugees who have been sidelined in the Yugoslavian strife That neither opportunity has an entirely perfect ending and that the final pages of this comedy have a distinctly tragic tinge only adds to the moral weight which ultimately ballasts its often irritating flippancyThe Sword of Honour TrilogyAs I consider the trilogy as a whole I find myself torn between two conflicting views One is the attitude that I expected to have that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts It is as I said Waugh s swansong that he took the trouble to revise and publish as a single whole at the end of hisife many of these revisions have been un revised in the present edition however but the details are relatively minor Reading the three books in swift succession is greatly preferable to reading either of the Mills Factories of Ne later volumes separately since characters and events are continued from one novel to another without much explanation Characters who appear trivial in any one novel gain stature when you are aware of their continuing presence in the background Certainly the scope of the three novels from 1939 to 1945 with a brief postlude in 1951 makes this an incredibly valuable view of Britain at the time of the Second World War especially as it is seeness glamorously but typically from a point of view argely on the sidelines There are also arger social themes such as the decline of aristocratic privilege and the Darkest Night (Birthright, loss of moral clarity in warfare that resonate better in a symphony than a sonataBut I am also disturbed by the opposite sense that the parts may be satisfactory than their sum For one thing there is a certain repetition of pattern between the three volumes Approximately two thirds of each show the protagonist Guy Crouchback rattling around in Britain attached to various military outfits At the end of each volume he is engaged as the author himself was in some inconclusive military exercise an aborted raid on Dakar in 1940 the allied withdrawal from Crete in 1941 and theast months of the war in Yugoslavia The second and third of these are magnificent pieces of writing but they only point out the comparative ack of continuity in the first part of each book which is especially problematic in the second of themThen there is the uestion of tone Frank Kermode in his magnificent introduction to the Everyman Classics edition writes Here in his final work there run together the two styles of mischief and gravity that can be noted in his writing from the beginning Totally true but mischief becomes dated a ot uickly than gravity I have the feeling that for readers who had been through the War and seen its absurdities injustices and unexpected rewards the Trilogy would have read as a hilarious and immediately recognizable satire Seventy years on however many of the targets reuire footnoting and some of Waugh s running gags such as the ubiuitous appearance of an apparently never promoted American Lieutenant of unspecified attachment known as the Loot just seem silly Where the connecting thread is one of personal self discovery as it is in the first volume or a gathering moral dilemma as in the third these comic sections do have some momentum But it is a balancing act that may be harder to maintain today than when the books were first written In my opinion the masterwork of 20th century English fiction Brideshead Hindi Sahitya Ka Adha Itihasa lent itself to million dollar TV adaptation but the books Men At Arms Officers And Gentlemen and Unconditional Surrender are almost too good for TV or screen There was a fine and nowost TV version in the 60s with Edward Woodward as Crouchback and host of character actors including Ronald Fraser as Apthorpe playing the supporting parts and an all too brief 2001 version for TV with Daniel craig as Crouchback The nuances the subtleties the acute observations of English social niceties and the bitterness that unites and divides us are almost impossible to portray on screen In terms of characterisation Crouchback is almost but not uite a non entity He bestrides the novel almost as a catalyst for all the other characters to react to The novel is genuinely funny but the humour is usually the humour of cruelty If you have tears to shed shed them now the death of Apthorpe is heartbreaking There is real warmth the great recurring shape of Colonel Jumbo Trotter The Gathering Storm (The Hidden World of Changers lumbers through the novel popping up now and againike a Vidas mexicanas / Mexican Lifes: Diez biografias para entender a Mxico / The Biographies to Understand Mexico (Coleccion Popular) lost but welcome friend There is political intrigue religious bigotry heroism deception cynicism on an almost industrial scale but it remains right at the top of my never be seaparated fromist 1 Men At Arms 3This first part of what was originally a trilogy was uite uneven for me Guy Crouchback is a well intentioned though ineffective man who in his Death in the Garden late 30s joins the army to do his bit The opening section in training is the funniest with the farcical episode of Apthorpe and his thunder box being especially hilarious But there areong sections where Guy is shunted around aimlessly or himself goes off on a uest to Baule locate the owner of aegacy for which he has taken responsibility which are dullThe bureaucracy and confusion of a national military force being mobilised is conveyed but there s also an old fashioned sense of the army being ed by old buffers who inhabit privileged clubs in Piccadilly which perhaps gives a skewed view of the British war effort the officers who see Dunkirk as running away for example There s a typically Waughesian episode on the Isle of Mugg which ifts things towards the end but I m finding this Hidden Demon looser andess sharp than I expected 3 stars for this first volume2 Officers and Gentlemen 3In this second part Guy manages to both take an active part in the war and to gain some warmth from me His concern for a dead man on Crete finally made him come to La figlia di Odino (Raven Rings, life as a person and not just a PoV character there to offer up a detached observation on the war and a filter for Waugh s own views His joy at being greeted with welcome by his old Halberdier company and his ability to remember the name of ateast one man serving under him helped And the description of the chaotic retreat from Crete is well done though it s uite opaue as to what happens while Guy is delirious With Virginia back on the scene I thought this book had turned around for me until the German invasion of Russia happens in the background and Guy s reaction turned me against him all over again two years before when he read of the Russo German alliance when a decade of shame seemed to be ending in Norman Thomas light and reason when the Enemy was plain in view huge and hateful all disguise cast off now that hallucination was dissolved and he was back in the old ambiguous world and his country wased blundering into dishonour To write off the deaths of 20m Russians in the struggle against Hitler as a British alliance of dishonour seems extraordinary to me For all the fine writing the humour the tragedy and pathos fundamentally I just can t get on with Waugh s reactionary political views which are on full display here He despises the Russians the Americans who are arriving in London anyone working or middle class anything that speaks to a sweeping away of old and entrenched social hierarchies and aristocratic values and uite a few women I can t share Waugh s politics or misanthropy but I m interested enough to finish the trilogy3. Discovers new purpose in the challenge to defend Christian values against Nazi barbarism but then gradually finds the complexities and cruelties of war overwhelming Though often somber Sword of Honor is also a brilliant comedy peopled by the fantastic
Evelyn Waugh ✓ 6 free read
Evelyn Waugh's father Arthur was a noted editor and publisher His only sibling Alec also became a writer of note In fact his book “The Loom of Youth” 1917 a novel about his old boarding school Sherborne caused Evelyn to be expelled from there and placed at Lancing College He said of his time there “the whole of English education when I was brought up was to produce prose writers; it was al