Next Up: A Handful Of Dust
I expect my 49th book, A Handful of Dust, to be a nice break from some of the weighty novels I’ve read recently.
This novel, written by Evelyn Waugh, has two things I like right off the bat. First, it’s short–only 230 pages. Second, it’s satirical, and I love satirical novels like Catch 22.
The story looks to be about a mooch who has an affair with a wealthy married woman–a woman who lives in a massive British estate that sounds similar to Downton Abbey. So I’m interested to see how Waugh works satire into what seems to be a somewhat depressing story. But aren’t they all depressing?
Some quick facts about A Handful of Dust and its author Evelyn Waugh:
- Evelyn Waugh is a dude. I didn’t know that until recently.
- The novel, published in 1934, is ranked #34 on the Modern Library Top 100 in addition to appearing on the Time list.
- The title comes from a verse in T.S. Eliot’s poem, The Wasteland (more to come on this).
- A Handful of Dust was adapted to an obscure film directed by Charles Sturridge in 1988.
- Graham Greene called Evelyn Waugh “the greatest novelist of my generation.”
- Waugh wrote many novels in addition to A Handful of Dust. The most notable, Brideshead Revisited, is also on the Time list.
What does Time say?
Devoted to his wife, Brenda, his son, John Andrew, and to Hetton, his very ugly neo-Gothic homestead, Tony Last will lose all three. As his name is always announcing, Last lives at the end of a dying age, the brittle, exhausted 1930s, when England, at least Waugh’s England, is a place where Brenda can throw herself at the feet of a childish lover and where Last can discard his life on an absurd caprice….If this is Waugh at his bleakest it’s also Waugh at his deepest, most poisonously funny.
Sounds like a sad story. But at least it’s supposed to be funny.
Any thoughts on Waugh or A Handful of Dust?