Read Allakäik ja langus by Evelyn Waugh Online


Vaimuka satiiri ja musta huumoriga kirjutatud romaan loob äraspidise pildi 1920. aastate Inglismaast, kujutades seda kõige veidrama tüüpidegalerii kaudu. Peategelane, ausameelne noormees Paul Pennyfeather, satub kummalisse kolkakooli, luksuslikesse salongidesse ja vanglatrellide taha. Õnneks kehtib temagi käekäigu kohta ütlus: lõpp hea, kõik hea....

Title : Allakäik ja langus
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ISBN : 9788498198829
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 187 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Allakäik ja langus Reviews

  • Fabian
    2019-04-10 03:05

    Silly, silly Brits! So eager to defend "honour", "custom", "decency". As if these concepts actually even existed! They did not exist then, just as they sure as hell don't exist now. (Instead, we mingle with the complex and the pseudo complex.)Like Jude (of "Obscure" fame), our main man struggles to live within a system (in the novel, prep schools and jails are synonymous) which rules his existence. But this awful society is prettied up so, and the irony (and comedy) derives from the fact that all characters are oh-so ignorant. Of the roles they play, of their important or negligible lives, of the upstairs/downstairs never ending bullshit... The masterful touches of a true novelist like Waugh (one of the quintessential writers of British lit.) though, lie in the factual certainty that the real world of today and tomorrow is pretty much the same as 1920's-30's England, with all its citizens perpetually cast in chicken-minus-head roles roaming about on a fickle pyramid. But who wouldn't be stupid enough to fall for dreams of love, glory or riches?

  • Shovelmonkey1
    2019-04-13 02:04

    SUMMARY:A skewed and satirical version of Lemony Snickets Series of Unfortunate Events for grown-ups including a similar line-up of comedy death scenes and improbably named characters.THE LONG WINDED VERSION:Oh Mr Waugh, you're a cad, a bounder and pithier than a bushel of oranges. Why, I do believe that without you the 30s would have been quite insufferably dull. Lets face it, with one war over and another one gestating quietly in the wings, what better way to pass the time than by disemboweling the braying upper classes, armed only with a scalpel-sharp wit. A cast of ridiculously named, vaguely vapid and generally insufferable middle and upper class buffoons rub shoulders between the pages and try gamely not to tip caviare and absinthe over each others haute couture, while generally taking advantage of those poor gullible middle class types who'll do anything for an extra shilling (including the facilitating of people trafficking and sex slavery apparently). Of course the ultimate irony in this "sending up" of the weak chinned, inbred upper classes is that Waugh himself was in the possession of a not undistinguished lineage, was Oxbridge educated and harboured secret longings to be fully accepted into the Upper Classes. Still wryly amusing now, but I have trouble imagining how this book was received when it was first published as the buying of books was beyond the means of many working and middle class households at the time and I doubt the upper classes, perched in their wing-back chairs in the library would be slapping their leg, wiping a tear from their eye and ringing for butler to bring them another sherry while they mused on the satirical dissections of their class put forward by young Mr Waugh.As an aside, it occurred to me while reading this that David Mitchell (he of the Cloud Atlas) probably bloody loved this book, simply for the way all the characters are interwoven and keep cropping up again in different roles and different locations. Wowed by Waugh were we, Mr Mitchell?

  • Paul Bryant
    2019-04-25 00:40

    AN UNPLEASANT ENCOUNTER, OR, THE N WORD IN THE EARLY 20TH CENTURYBowling along in this droll farce about the upper classes – if you imagine a line with PG Wodehouse (utter lollery) at one end and Edward St Aubyn (still funny, but black, bitter and bleak) at the other – then Decline and Fall is towards the Wooster end of the spectrum - and then on page 77, there’s a sports day organised at the minor public school where our wan young defenestrated undergrad Paul Pennyfeather is now teaching. Gliding soundlessly into the grounds of the school comes an enormous limousine of dove-grey and silver and debouching therefromlike the first breath of spring in the Champs-Elysees came Mrs Beste-Chetwynde – two lizard-skin feet, silk legs, chinchilla body, a tight little black hat pinned with platinum and diamonds, and the high invariable voice that may be heard in any Ritz hotel from New York to Budapest. She says to the host “I hope you don’t mind my bringing Chokey” and Dr Fagan for the moment was at a loss for words of welcome, for “Chokey”, though graceful of bearing and irreproachably dressed, was a Negro.There follows four or five pages of fun with “the Negro”, but the term used is the n word. Waugh’s intention is to pillory a few dreadful attitudes :"I think it’s an insult bringing a n----- here”, said Mrs Clutterbuck. “It’s an insult to our own women.” “N------s are all right,” said Philbrick. “Where I draw the line is a Chink, nasty inhuman things.”You can tell Waugh is having fun at the expense of the racists, but I fear this kind of fun is no longer to our taste, and occupies the same cultural position as a tarantula on a slice of angel cake. You don’t want to see it, and when it’s gone, you don’t want to remember it was there.BOWDLER – UNBOWDLER - REBOWDLERBut our nearly one-hundred-years-later sensibilities also need questioning too. We don’t want to find ourselves in a contest to see who has the thinnest skin. It leads to the ridiculous idea of publishing a bowdlerised version of Huckleberry Finn.Some books may well have had the strange experience of being Bowdlerised in the 19th century, un-Bowdlerised in the 20th, and re-Bowdlerised, for different reasons, in the 21st. This is nonsense. THE SUN HAS GOT HIS HAT ONIn May this year a 68-year-old BBC DJ resigned after 32 years at the BBC because he’d played Ambrose and his Orchestra’s version of "The Sun has Got His Hat On", a song written and recorded four years after Decline and Fall. This jolly, innocuous song goes as followsThe sun has got his hat on, hip-hip-hip-hooray!The sun has got his hat on and he's coming out todayNow we'll all be happy, hip-hip-hip-hoorayThe sun has got his hat on and he's coming out todayHe's been tanning n------s out in TimbuktuNow he's coming back to do the same to youSo jump into your sunbath, hip-hip-hip-hoorayThe sun has got his hat on and he's coming out todayThe poor DJ was completely unaware of the n word in the song. But apparently, he had to go. And six years after "The Sun Has Got his Hat On", Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day was published, another charming satirical comedy. Miss Pettigrew on page 162 of that book offers some advice to Miss LaFosse, who is trying to choose between two suitors :"Now the first one, he was kind too," said Miss Pettigrew earnestly, "but well, my dear. I wouldn't advise marrying him. I don't like to jump to conclusions but I think there was a little Jew in him. He wasn't quite English. And, well, I do think when it comes to marriage it's safer to stick with your own nationality.""Certainly," said Miss LaFosse, demurely. Oh yes, that came 12 pages after this – here's one of the suitors speaking :"Now Delysia's a little devil and there's times I could flay her alive, and obviously she needs a little physical correction, but I'm the only right man to do it."(Those interested may wish to compare these cases with that of "Smack My Bitch Up", a No 8 hit in Britain by The Prodigy in 1997, - plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. The BBC banned The Prodigy.)Well, what are we going to do? Not read books older than 1990 for fear of outraging ourselves? Obviously not. But this is a wilderness, there are no rules except the ones you make up yourself. (We are never allowed to forget that Ezra Pound was himself a fascist, but books have been written about TS Eliot in which his profound anti-Semitism is nowhere to be found. I guess the greater you are the more leeway you get.) The act of reading is a pasodoble between the author and the reader in which sometimes the author stumbles and sometimes the reader and sometimes they’re both flat on their backs.BUT ANYWAYDecline and Fall doesn’t break the 4th P Bryant Rule of Novels which says Authors Under Thirty Do Not Write Great Books (Waugh was 25 when he wrote this). It starts off great and then half-way through starts to get sillier and sillier. But – shows great promise! I sort of kind of quite liked it.

  • Chrissie
    2019-04-07 04:38

    This is my first Evelyn Waugh and I will be reading more, although I suspect the author finds salvation through religion more than I.This was the author's first published novel. It was published in 1928 and is a satire of British society of the 1920s. The humor is accusatory, as most satirical humor is. Social norms, cultural differences, education, religion, bureaucracy, prisons, marriage, sex, love, honor - all of these themes are mercilessly poked at, to such an extent that the book could be classified as a farce. This book is meant to make us laugh. I did laugh, but that the humor is stretched to the level of a farce is why I cannot rate it higher.We are meant to consider where the central character starts and where he is at the end. What does this say about human nature? Keep in mind that what we first see may be deceptive. Look at the title. I do appreciate novels given titles relevant to the book's message. The book draws on the author's own school years, undergraduate studies and years as a teacher at Arnold House in northern Wales.Do not listen to the audiobook narrated by Michael Maloney, as I did! This is the most important element of my whole review. I absolutely hated the narration, and tell me, is it easy to laugh when the narrator's intonations infuriate you? I do not think it is fair to lower a book's rating because the audiobook narration is poor. However, it was a pure struggle to concentrate only upon the author's written words and ignore the lousy narration. Maloney's reading has an uneven tempo. One minute he is screaming and the next he is whispering. Names are snot spoken clearly. Women sound like men and men as women. He over-dramatizes. There is a frantic neuroticism in the tone and tempo. I have listened to this narrator read other books. None were done as poorly as this.

  • Trevor
    2019-04-02 22:59

    I've just finished this book and look, read it. It is a delight from start to finish. In an odd way it reminds me of O Lucky Man - the Lindsay Anderson film. It also reminded me of Monty Python at their best, no, at their very best. Ok, so perhaps some of the social stereotypes don't really exist anymore, but that would be like not reading Wodehouse because no one has a man servant anymore. The architect is comic genius in its purest form - I may have even laughed out loud (though never lol) when he decided that he would have to put a staircase into the building but complains something along the lines of, what is the matter with people that they have to move around so much? Why can't they just sit still and work? And his saying that we should divide people into dynamic and static rather than male and female is just inspired.By reading this book you will learn, among much else, that a course of action is worse than criminal behaviour (I think this may be becoming my favourite quote of all time), why people from public schools have an easier time in prison than those from slums, why it is best not to announce too loudly that you no longer have your appendix and how doubting Ministers of religion should not loose their heads over prison reform.All delivered in straight-faced English deadpan. It doesn't get any better than this.A romp, a riot - read it.

  • Barry Pierce
    2019-04-08 00:55

    Ugh how great is this? Waugh's biting satire of his time and class is just *heart eyes emoji*. This is a lot funnier than I expected it so be, although it is very much British humour (which I love) so it may be lost on a lot of people. It's sort of like a comical Clockwork Orange mixed with Anderson's If.... Basically it's a Malcolm McDowell film (but nothing like Caligula). It's really very good. It's my first Waugh and I need more! He may be a new favourite.

  • Brad
    2019-04-14 05:56

    Decline and Fall was Evelyn Waugh's first novel, and the first novel of his (that's right, Kelly, Evelyn's a man) that I read. It wasn't at all what I expected. I expected a weighty, gloomy, hopeless, depressing love letter to the British upper crust. I expected the kind of book Merchant-Ivory would be happy to film amidst overcast skies and lush lawns. I expected Masterpiece Theatre during a PBS funding push.I didn't expect scathing satire, a sort of P.G. Wodehouse with fangs, nor did I expect to laugh as much as I did. I was genuinely surprised by what I found, and while I did enjoy the surprise, I didn't enjoy it as much as I should have. My enjoyment of Decline and Fall suffered from my preconceptions, which were actually misconceptions.What I wanted to read, what I was hoping to read, was something a bit more like Brideshead Revisited. The whole experience was like eating a hamburger when craving roast beef. I still enjoyed the hamburger, but I longed for the beef, and my disappointment was unavoidable.Peter Pennyfeather's journey from school to teaching to prison and back again is funny without sacrificing Waugh's acidic burn. And the funny rarely descends into the silly like Jeeves and Wooster are wont to do (not that there's anything wrong with silly). Decline and Fall maintains its focus, delivers its critique, and does so with purpose. It really is an excellent little novel. Too bad I can't like it more. If I'd known what I was getting into when I cracked the book, I would have liked it immensely, but unfulfilled expectations -- like mine with Decline and Fall -- can be the death of any piece of entertainment. This time they were more like a grand mal seizure, but that was enough to diminish the experience for me.

  • Bettie☯
    2019-04-16 23:00

    Description: Expelled from Oxford for indecent behaviour, Paul Pennyfeather is oddly unsurprised to find himself qualifying for the position of schoolmaster at Llanabba Castle. His colleagues are an assortment of misfits, including Prendy (plagued by doubts) and captain Grimes, who is always in the soup (or just plain drunk). Then Sports Day arrives, and with it the delectable Margot Beste-Chetwynde, floating on a scented breeze. As the farce unfolds and the young run riot, no one is safe, least of all Paul. Taking its title from Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Evelyn Waugh's first, funniest novel immediately caught the ear of the public with his account of an ingénu abroad in the decadent confusion of 1920s high society.31.03.2017: this BBC production is fabulous fun!Bettie's Books

  • Lorenzo Berardi
    2019-04-04 02:37

    'Decline and Fall' is the sort of merciless social satire about Oxford and its elitist characters I expected to find when I bought 'Zuleika Dobson' by Max Beerbohm. Whereas the latter left me utterly disappointed - to the point I left that book half-read - this novel turned out to be far more brilliant than I thought.It's funny to notice how Mr. Beerbohm was chiefly a caricaturist who toyed with literature while young Evelyn Waugh was exactly the opposite.And I believe both men made the right choice in sticking to what they did best later in their life.'Decline and Fall' was published in 1928 as an 'illustrated novelette', but Waugh's sparse cartoons are amateurish and clumsy when compared to his brilliant flourished words.In fact, among the novelists I have been reading, only the Swiss author Friedrich Durrenmatt had a worse inclination to figurative art than Waugh did.So much for Evelyn Waugh's early aborted career as an awful cartoonist.Shall we focus on his writing? Oh yes, indeed!Mind you, this novel is the very first published by Waugh and it is better than a household name of British humour like P.G. Wodehouse in my humble opinion.Am I partial to Mr. Waugh?Well, to be honest, I don't think I am. And let me tell you why.This guy was a conservative at heart, a converted Roman Catholic and an incurable reactionary.Had he lived in these years, Evelyn Waugh would have probably had his weekly column in The Times or The Telegraph attacking the UE and flirting with the UKIP.I hardly doubt his harangues would have spared harsh words on Eastern and Southern European immigrants alike invading the UK.Had we met in person, Mr. Waugh would have probably been condescending in talking to me, found my English pronunciation disgraceful and my social manners uncouth.But still, I'm not bitter about him. Not a bit.No hard feelings, Evelyn.True, Mr. Waugh changed and developed his writing style quite a lot, but the joyous, sadistic pleasure that you can find in this early novel of his is unsurpassed in his later - and more accomplished - works. After all, this is the same author who delivered novels such as 'A Handful of Dust', 'Brideshead Revisited' and 'Scoop' which are staple food for many an English literature fan. And yet, all those books were just too perfect to blow me away completely.'Decline and Fall' might be a juvenile work, but it does have power, anarchy, courage.What I'm trying to say is that this novel is spontaneous and authentic to the point that you can easily imagine its author giggling at his own jokes and making fun of its own characters.The downside of this novel is that there is plenty of racism in it. Which is hardly surprising thinking that Waugh is the same guy who entitled one of his novels 'Black Mischief'.Actually, if you are a black person, an Italian, a Frenchman, a Welshman or have Jewish heritage chances are you will be either deeply offended or bitterly amused by this book.And if you're a woman things won't improve that much. Female characters here are pompous matrons, coquettish posh bitches and prostitutes (Waugh plays the prudish by calling them 'entertainers').But then again Waugh here is pitiless in his scorn for everyone and every social class, from aristocracy to the bourgeoisie passing through Bauhaus-inspired architects, butlers, schoolmasters and pub-owners. If there is one thing Mr Waugh is excellent at it's in despising people and the way he does that is terribly funny.'Decline and Fall' is a 'Candide Revisited' without the wit of Voltaire, but with much more enjoyable cruelty. Waugh didn't need to stage the Lisbon earthquake to raze to the ground the times he lived in.

  • Jacquelin
    2019-04-23 06:05

    Poor Paul Pennyfeather. He gets kicked out of Oxford for indecent exposure, although it isn't entirely his fault. Leaving Oxford causes him to default on his sizable inheritance, which leads him to a teaching position in Wales, Not to worry that he has no teaching experience, he is hired anyway. He falls for the mother of one of his students and takes the enviable position of being the boy's private tutor. Unbeknownst to Paul, his new paramour's wealth comes from an investment in many high class brothels in South America. Just before their wedding, he is arrested for his involvement in the prostitution ring that he knows nothing about. Will Paul spend the rest of his life in jail? I won't give away rest of the story, but I rooted for Paul until the very end. Published in 1928 to an enthusiastic audience, the genre of this novel could be considered a "comedy of manners" or a satire or apicaresque. This has elements of all three. The story is absurd and the characters are deeply flawed. They seem oblivious to their plight. They have a desire to get on the straight and narrow, but have no idea how to go about it. Author Evelyn Waugh has a great sense of comedic timing. He continually tosses obstacles into his characters' paths and lets them stumble around, getting deeper and deeper into trouble, all for our amusement. And amusing it is. I laughed out loud and won't soon forget Paul Pennyfeather's exploits. If you enjoy the "comedy of manners" stylings of P.G. Wodehouse and Noel Coward, you'll enjoy Decline and Fall.

  • Hannah
    2019-04-18 05:58

    Plot: I was so pleasantly surprised at my enjoyment of this book. I had not expected to find it as good or as easy to read as it ended up being. The plot follows the story of Paul Pennyweather who within the first 2 pages is forced to leave oxford university through no fault of his own. This leads him to starting a career in a boys school and ends up meeting a very important lady through this job. The plot was funny to say the lease. I love a school novel and this was an interesting one. It also gave a really clear idea on the life style of the 1920’s. There was a very similar tone to the great Gatsby but with less of a party lifestyle. The ending was brilliant I was so motivated to read those last few pages! Characters: Paul was a misfortunate character, things just kept happening to him. Like most of the characters in the book they had misfortune and the cards did not play out to them. Which felt lie to me a comment on the society at the time. Paul always had a really good humour to him and I enjoyed reading about him and his lack of complaining made me really idolize him. Favourite aspects: I liked the 3rd section mostly, it was a brilliant section to read. The writing of it was really descriptive and kept and easy tone to it. Making the whole novel a lot easier to read then I had anticipated. Themes: The main theme is the idea of society in the 1920’s, I love this era. So to read about it and to see how it effects different classes and views was really interesting. Structure: The 3 part structure was really nice, it showed clearly the significance of the 3 events in his life. The section where also more fun to read as you could see the shifts in class and how each time the event ended it was a significant point.

  • Steve
    2019-04-02 05:38

    This is Waugh's first book, and one of his finest. This is an absurd story of a young man, expelled (or "sent down") from Oxford for indecent behaviour, who obtains a job as a teacher at a less than salubrious third-rate public school in Wales and is then entrapped in a series of bizarre events that take him on a rollercoaster ride through upper-class circles. The central character, Paul Pennyfeather, is a naive soul, full of gusto and enthusiasm, but lacking in common sense. The use of the term "sent down from Oxford" to describe his "decline" is lightweight in comparison to his subsequent "fall" (another type of being "sent down"); although I can't help feeling that in the world of the Oxbridge undergraduate, the expulsion from Oxford is the true fall in his life. I was a little disappointed by the latter half of the book, the rollercoaster speeds up, and it does feel rushed and a little too contrived by the final chapters. But this is Waugh's first novel, so a minor issue in the overall context of the amusing storylines and entertaining characters.Embarassingly, I caught myself laughing out loud in public to this book. The black comedy is hilarious though you may have to be British to appreciate some of the quirks and comic moments, particularly during Pennyfeather's time at the Welsh public school. However if Wodehouse floats your boat, then Decline and Fall is well worth a look.

  • Jan-Maat
    2019-04-02 04:43

    This was Waugh's first novel and was received with great acclaim, even by my old favourite Arnold Bennett. However I find it like eating whipped cream. It goes down easy, but doesn't fill me up. Clearly I lack the required level of sensibility to appreciate Waugh. Which is to say an addiction to the riotous upper classes. If you think there is nothing better than a snazzily dissolute aristocrat then this is the satire for you.It romps from Bullingdon Club style antics at Oxford via cut price private schools, white slavery, prison and back again. The hero learns nothing, but is simply spun round full circle on Fortune's wheel.What is earnest is for Waugh laughable and comes in for punishment or abuse whether that be the League of Nations or Prison reformers. But the rakish, so long as they are blue-blooded, will survive and thrive.Being of a tragically earnest disposition myself Waugh sharpens my appreciation for Madame Guillotine as an agent for social improvement. But it would be a sad world if we all thought alike.

  • Scott
    2019-04-12 00:05

    An elegant retelling of Voltaire's Candide, Waugh's first novel, Decline and Fall (1928) recounts the misfortunes that plague Paul Pennyfeather, from his dismissal from Oxford for "indecent behavior," to a miserable term as master at a public school, to his disastrous betrothal to a wealthy socialite, and finally to his incarceration, death, and resurrection. The road to his ruin is populated with satiric send ups of typical literary characters, many of whom are as indestructible as Paul himself. Waugh introduces themes that he will continue to develop in his subsequent fiction: wealth, the appetites of the flesh, and faith. Indeed, the last few chapters of this book read almost like the first chapters of his masterpiece Brideshead Revisited. Decline and Fall is a quick read, and mostly entertaining, though the humor at times is too dated to elicit much laughter, and some of the attitudes so blackly satirized by Waugh have mercifully fallen to the side.

  • Laurel Hicks
    2019-04-27 07:02

    Filled with lighthearted solemnity, Waugh's first novel signals a rise.

  • Jim
    2019-04-21 05:42

    A delightfully savage satire on the English public school system. When a young man is de-pantsed as part of an upperclass prank, he is "sent down" and finds a job at a Welsh public school. He winds up being a Candide-type of character as he winds up in prison and finally breaks out into the clear.

  • Caroline
    2019-04-04 06:38

    Waugh's first novel is a wonderful satirical dark comedy, with no shortage of humorous characters. Be prepared for some racist and plenty of politically incorrectness. Paul Pennyfeather is sent down from Scone College for 'indecent behavior' and is disowned by his guardian. In need of money, he manages to get a job as a teacher at Llanabba, a small boys school in Wales. At Llanabba, Paul finds his own method of getting along with the boys and faculty members, often with hilarious results. But lest you think this is just a chuckle-a-minute book without any depth, the build up to the final chapter where the meaning of life is explained with a very interesting and vivid metaphor is simply superb.

  • Nooilforpacifists
    2019-04-07 01:38

    Very funny…very quirky…then a bit thought provoking. The Welsh take a big hit--from the language to a band that only can play "Men of Harlech." The "N-word" is used conspicuously in one chapter, but the joke turns out to be on anyone who is offended. Schoolmasters, and the British schools system -- and their relation to the English class system -- are ridiculed hilariously throughout. I believe this was Waugh's first book; written while he was a schoolmaster, hating the job. As Waugh imagines it, there are horrible things better than being a schoolmaster. Writing gems of novels such as this was better too, and much more amusing.

  • Cecily
    2019-04-06 00:03

    An improbable, but comic, tale of Paul Pennyfeather, wrongly sent down from Oxford, and his subsequent adventures as a teacher in a very dubious private school, love with an older heiress, prison and Reggie-Perrin style "death".This was Waugh's first novel, but in places it's like a caricature of his (not yet written) "Brideshead Revisited".

  • Corey
    2019-04-07 22:49

    A puredee delight. One of the funniest novels I've ever read.

  • Paola
    2019-04-08 02:49

    According to the introduction to the Penguin edition, referring to his own work Waugh said ‘I regard writing not as investigation of character but as an exercise in the use of language, and with this I am obsessed. I have no technical psychological interest. It is drama, speech and events that interest me.’Yet he is very precise in his depiction of English class conscious society. Witty, funny, and piercingly critical, it portrays in Paul Pennyfeather the stereotypical, quintessential English gentleman who sails effortless through life's up and downs (in this respect, the passing of Lord Tangent with no consequences for those involved is also a gem).The "cover story" is itself hilarious, with Paul's almost perfect composure providing a comedic counterpoint to the innumerable catastrophes befalling him and those around him. I can imagine how contemporaries must have loved and laughed at the myriad of clever references to the contemporary political and cultural elites. At the same time, society is severely reprimanded: from the justice system, to the press, to conventions and privilege, which I read all as different manifestations of the same "ill", the English class system. There are further reflections of what it all means - there are several references to suicide here and there, but also to some form of renewal, as in the many lives of Grimes, Philbrick and Fagan, not to mention Paul himself and Margot. And then there is Otto Silenus' simile between a Paris Luna Park ride and people notion of life‘People don’t see that when they say “life” they mean two different things. They can mean simply existence, with its physiological implications of growth and organic change. They can’t escape that – even by death, but because that’s inevitable they think the other idea of life is too – the scrambling and excitement and bumps and the effort to get to the middle. And when we do get to the middle, it’s just as if we never started. It’s so odd.And is it different lives, or different identities? Paul's return to Scone as an unrecognised, new Mr Pennyfeather and his last conversation with Peter seem to come down for the latter.The writing is also beautiful throughout, carrying the reader effortlessly along, though at points Waugh seems to want to remind somewhat more explicitly how good he is at thisSurely he had followed in the Bacchic train of distant Arcady, and played on the reeds of myth by forgotten streams, and taught the childish satyrs the art of love? Had he not suffered unscathed the fearful dooms of all the offended gods of all the histories – fire, brimstone and yawning earthquakes, plague and pestilence? Had he not stood, like the Pompeian sentry, while the Citadels of the Plain fell to ruin about his ears? Had he not, like some grease-caked Channel-swimmer, breasted the waves of the Deluge? Had he not moved unseen when darkness covered the waters?EDIT: if you are young, or non-British, or both, I recommend an annotated edition (I had the Penguin one, which I am happy to recommend) that can explain the many implicit references to people, places, politics, etc.

  • James
    2019-04-26 02:43

    Evelyn Waugh's first novel, Decline and Fall, is a delightful satiric comedy. It is based in part on Waugh's undergraduate years at Hertford College, Oxford, and his experience as a teacher in Wales. He is sent down from Oxford and as a result takes a position at the Llanabba school in Wales. The school itself is dingy, depressing, and seems always on the verge of coming apart at the seams. The masters, Captain Grimes, Mr. Prendergast, and Paul, are all unqualified for their positions, the students are frightfully undisciplined, and little or no learning ever takes place within Llanabba Castle's walls. In this episode and others I encountered the author's not so subtle satire and characteristic black humor in lampooning various features of British schools and society in the 1920s. The novel's title is a contraction of Edward Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. But it also alludes to the German philosopher Oswald Spengler's The Decline of the West (1918–1922), which first appeared in an English translation in 1926 and which argued, among other things, that the rise of nations and cultures is inevitably followed by their eclipse. Waugh read both Gibbon and Spengler while writing his first novel. I tremendously enjoyed the picaresque adventures of its hero, Paul Pennyfeather, as he encountered barely believable difficulties in "getting along". Waugh's characterization is superb while his satire is unambiguously hostile to much that was in vogue in the late 1920s, and themes of cultural change and confusion, moral disintegration and social decay all drive the novel forward and fuel its humor. This book was a joy to read even if you do not participate in all of Mr. Waugh's inside references. It is a worthy introduction to the novels of one of the finest authors of our century.

  • Anthony
    2019-04-05 04:58

    I have been re-visiting books which I read in my youth. This is an interesting activity. I began reading Tess of the D'Urbervilles in this vein, only to find that I had never read it in the first place. More about that later. Reading 'Decline and Fall' which I probably read while I was at Oxford, and generally a fan of Waugh's use of language I was preparing myself for a treat. I was ready to luxuriate back into a bubble-bath of wit. I recalled the opening scenes of the Bollinger Club (so opportunely recalled in that our new Prime Minister was a member of the Bullingdon Club whose practices are most likely those satirised here). The Dons crouch at the window rubbing their hands in glee at the fines to be collected from the youthful vandalism and Waugh emits the immortal descrpition ..'it is the sound of English county families baying for broken glass'. However, what must have appeared rippingly humorous in 1928 - when Mrs Beste-Chetwynde, the guest of honour, turns up with her black boyfriend called 'Chokey' - is written in a form of cold racism mesmerisingly unfunny to today's perceptions. Try reading this without your stomach turning: 'I think it's an insult bringing a nigger here,' said Mrs Clutterbuck. 'It's an insult to our own women.''Niggers are all right,' said Philbrick. 'Where I draw the line is a Chink, nasty inhuman things. I had a pal bumped off by a Chink once. Throat cut horrible, it was, from ear to ear'.Clearly Waugh ascribes the words to the character, who in the latter sentence is a duplicitous confidence trickster posing as a butler, but the Chokey theme carried on long enough to cure me completely of any nostalgia I might have had for this book.Experiment over.

  • Mike Clarke
    2019-04-24 04:48

    Decline And Fall is Waugh at his most piercing, polemical and disturbing. The cast of irredeemable characters behaving outrageously and voicing opinions of such venom and prejudice makes for unsettling - yet hilarious - reading. Unlike lesser haters, Waugh doesn't secretly love or admire them, he hates them all. It's difficult to unpick the authorial voice from the ridiculous views of some of the most preposterous protagonists, and this is the charm of the work - you won't read it and feel uplifted, in fact you'll be lucky if you don't feel a bit sullied.It's the outbursts that are the best, such as the vicar commenting that an interest in liturgical matters in the laity is usually a sign of the onset of madness, or Dr Fagan's rant about the Welsh - "we can trace almost all of the disasters of English history or the influence of Wales. Think of Edward of Caernarvon, the first Prince of Wales, a perverse life...and an unseemly death, then the Tudors and the dissolution of the Church, then Lloyd George, the temperance movement, Nonconformity and lust stalking hand in hand through the country, wasting and ravaging." Can't argue really....If you think of Waugh as Brideshead, repressed sexuality and country house psychosexual drama, Decline And Fall will disabuse you. One of the most caustic, difficult and unloveable of authors he fathered the decline in deference by portraying the upper classes as demented, sexually dysfunctional, avaricious, stupid and morally bankrupt. It's probably best he's not around to see the celebrity obsessed, Hello/Heat culture of the times, or George Osborne as chancellor....

  • Moses Kilolo
    2019-03-31 23:49

    Decline and Fall presents us with Paul Pennyfeather, a young man sent away from Oxford for performing ‘a naked dance.’ After his inheritance is withheld, he resorts to teaching at a school with very funny students, all boys. It’s here that he meets the mother of one of his students (Peter), a lady named Margot. This chance meeting marks his descent into obscurity, characterized first by the promise of marriage to the wealthy Margot, but soon shattered by the arrest he suffers due to Margot’s illicit business venture – the export of prostitution. He is finally freed, her intervention involved, and he goes back to Oxford to study theology. But his meeting Margot, as Peter says, his involvement in their lives, marks his devastating decline. If only he’d resisted the allure of fortune – that much aligned lady.After reading this book, the second of Waugh I’ve read, I now considerably hold the opinion that Waugh was indeed some sort of genius, showing even in this, his first book, but sadly, a tragic one.

  • Terence Manleigh
    2019-03-29 22:51

    “Decline and Fall” is Waugh’s first novel, published when he was a young man in his twenties, and it launched him as giddily as a bottle of Veuve Cliquot smashed against a newly-minted battleship. The novel is brimming with comic talent, energy and an irresistible urge to poke fun at the establishment --- a perfect embodiment of the generation of the Bright Young Things. Here, Waugh takes his satiric scalpel to British provincial education, the British worship of sports, British liberal reform, British high society, and the British penal system. He manages to get in titillating glimpses of British homosexuality, British miscegenation, British abortion, British prostitution and the South American white slave trade. Most importantly, the book shocked his father in a most satisfactory manner. A bright, breezy read, and a marvelous debut novel.

  • Bert Zee
    2019-04-18 00:05

    I did not like this book AT ALL!!I recently watched the BBC adaptation of Decline & Fall and I found it rather funny and charming, the book however is not funny, is highly racist and above all, boring. Now Mr. Evelyn Waugh is indeed a nice writer, Brideshead Revisited is a fantastic novel but you'd barely even know that this was written by the same person. This is only a 300 page novel but damn it was a slug to get through, so many times I thought about putting it down but I persevered in the hopes of it getting better, it didn't. Nope, this book is definitely not for me.

  • Dillwynia Peter
    2019-04-07 05:01

    If I were to write, I would like to have as my 1st novel Decline & Fall. Waugh was a bitchy observer, who easily melded what he saw into fiction. He managed to fall into the Bright Young Things crowd and thus be invited to cocktail parties and weekend parties at country estates. The eccentric, the buffoon and witty would shine for another decade before WW2 would sweep it all away. There might have been a brief resurgence during the 80s, but the wit was never there – just the wanton greed.The comedy rackets along for almost the entire book – only stopping at the very end to give a sermon on ethics and morals. And considering what we have experienced before this doesn’t seem out of place. Pilloried are the prep school system to get a student into the private schools, or into university, modern architectural design, and the “new” prison system. One aside I learnt from Wikipedia: Waugh had a bitter exchange with his History tutor (Cruttwell) regarding his neglected studies. Waugh reacted badly to this and in his early novels used this name for various unsavoury characters. Here Cruttwell is a criminal on par with the Kray brothers in viciousness and big time crime.Teachers at prep schools are disgraced students from the universities. Their inadequacies and idiosyncrasies are very funny; they are assortment of criminals, idiots and rascals; as is the owner of the school who is positively Dickensian. He is a revolting sycophant towards the richer children’s parents – and of course, being farce, it always goes horribly wrong. The description of the school sport’s carnival is just delicious. I still smile at the description of the accidental shooting of young Lord Tangent before the start of one race.Our hero falls for one of the mothers of one of the students – Margot Beste-Chetwynde and here we get to enjoy the absurdity of a weekend country house party. In fact the hostess never shows up during the entire weekend, confining herself to her chambers; with the guests creating their own havoc and entertainment. Waugh must have ended in a set that wanted to renovate, or completely rebuild in the modern style. These places, in Waugh’s eye are entirely unliveable and his description of Beste-Chetwynde’s new house with pneumatic rubber ceilings and other absurdities is very funny. Waugh has a dig at living and social arrangements of adults at the time: a time of relaxing of social ideas in marriage, break down of barriers between classes & of women gaining some influence. The machinations of people and marriage often have nothing to do with love, and an awful lot to do with public station and social kudos. As the impending nuptials approaches, Paul (our hero) gets involved in Margot’s business arrangements –and generates his “downfall”. All are beautifully described in a naïve language to hide the fact that she is involved in ensnaring women into a covert sex worker industry in Argentina. The result is the complete downfall of Paul into prison. Here we regroup with our teachers from the prep school; Waugh has set the situation wonderfully so that this is completely plausible.Waugh now attacks the “new” prison system – in the 1920s this means adding a psychological aspect to reformation of the inmates. The governor is absolutely insane, always developing schemes that will improve the prisoner without taking into account what the prisoner might need. All to meet his aspirations of writing numerous books on prison reform and in the hope of having one of these reformations named after him.Eventually, all works well for Paul and with a new identity he returns to Oxford as an undergraduate and resumes his initial studies of becoming a vicar. Of course, this is all rather silly that folks can’t recognise him from when he was previously there – which is only a few years ago. The legend of his former self has now grown to monstrous proportions and many untruths are said about that other Paul Pennyfeather. Here Waugh is making fun of the legends that arise from former students at the colleges and perpetuated by the academic staff, something he would most certainly have experienced as an undergrad.The title is a nod to Gibbon’s Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire, and is a reference to what Waugh (and others) considered regarding world affairs and the youth in a post- Great War Europe. There was much discussion at the time regarding the Roaring Twenties and how it seemed to make a mockery and denigration of all the aspirations fought in the Great War. It is true that a number of late 19th century institutions were in decay, including the prep school system and even the universities. This was a massive time of change in all the aspects covered in the book, but especially education, architecture and, social and prison reforms. Waugh’s satire gives us a wonderful glimpse of what is now a very long gone world (a Depression & World War will do that), written in a language and intellectual breadth that is also gone – or grossly reduced. The characters are well drawn as caricatures of various stereotypes - such as the greasy pole climbing politician, the callous aristocrats, the con man, and the spinster trapped in penury and tiny household budgets. They work because they are the sort of character encountered in a comedy, but also because they are obviously amalgams of people he met. This has reminded me that I need to read Waugh’s other satires for a good laugh, or to reread Brideshead Revisited and to appreciate it more.

  • Alessia Scurati
    2019-04-01 03:40

    Decline and Fall è un romanzo inglese. Ora, voi direte: questa è un po’ la scoperta dell’acqua calda. Allora preciserò: è un romanzo profondamente inglese, di quelli inglesi fino al midollo. Tanto da essere giocato tutto su quella sottile tecnica che loro definiscono humor satirico. Ecco: è una satira inglese. Diciamolo: a volte, è così forzato nel suo insistere su queste assurde vicende che pure la satira che all’inizio ha una forte capacità attrattiva, finisce con il diventare stucchevole. Gratta gratta, però, e uscirà fuori la grande critica sociale che sta alla base della storia, in fondo fin dalla prima riga. Del resto, la critica all’aristocrazia e al suo mondo è sempre stata l’asse portante dell’opera dell’autore. Paul Pennyfeather studia allo Scone College di Oxford. Lui, figlio di una borghesissima famiglia, non particolarmente brillante e di mondo, ma almeno studioso ragazzo che cerca di far fruttare la rendita che gli hanno lasciato mamma e papà affinché si laureasse (entrambi sono morti e i suoi beni sono gestiti da un tutore), una notte resta vittima di una goliardata organizzata da una confraternita universitaria di straricchi rampolli aristocratici. Beccato a vagare per i cortili in mutande, viene espulso dal college - il cui gotha tra amministratori e docenti, tra l’altro, era solo preoccupato del fatto che ad andarci di mezzo non fosse qualche figlio di un Lord.Dunque Paul, privato anche della rendita familiare (il tutore approfitta ovviamente dell’espulsione del giovane per esautorarlo dall’entrare in possesso dei suoi beni, vincolati al conseguimento di un titolo universitario), si trova a fare il professore in una sperduta scuola del Galles. Da qui in poi, è tutta una serie di situazioni paradossali e personaggi strambi che accompagneranno Paul nella sua caduta (il declino era iniziato a Oxford) dalla quale risorgerà in modo alquanto originale. Certo la maestria di Waugh sta nella costruzione di tutta una galleria di personaggi della società degli Anni ’20 volta a mettere alla berlina l’ipocrisia e la superficialità dell’epoca.Il romanzo, è riuscito, sì. Però, è un romanzo inglese. Hai voglia, caro il mio Coleridge, a spiegarmi che io devo sospendere la realtà e calarmi nei panni creduloni e ingenui del lettore per aderire a questo carosello di finzione, che vorrebbe essere brillante quanto un luna park a Coney Island e invece mi sembra più triste che l’Ortobruco Tour a Gardaland in novembre.Dopo un po’, lo ammetto, ho avuto qualche difficoltà a continuare. Altrimenti detto: mi è presa l’ansia di finire, volevo passare oltre, leggere altro. Vabbè. Anche in italiano io sono quella che non ride alle barzellette, non capisce Checco Zalone e ha fatto innervosire un noto presentatore per avergli detto che non trovava le sue battute divertenti. Niente. Ho uno humor strano, io. Facciamo che con Evelyn ci riproviamo con qualcos’altro e poi vi dico come va.

  • JacquiWine
    2019-04-04 22:46

    3.5 StarsIt’s been a while since I last read any Evelyn Waugh (probably more than five years in fact), but the recent appearance in the TV schedules of the BBC adaptation of Decline and Fall prompted me to pick him up again. First published in the late 1920s, Decline and Fall was Waugh’s debut novel, a cutting satire which took as its target Britain’s class-conscious society, in particular, the establishment or powers that be and their outrageous codes of behaviour.The novel focuses on a year in the life of Paul Pennyfeather, a rather naive but genial individual who gets caught up in a bizarre sequence of adventures which prove to be his undoing. To read my review, please click here: