Nobody does waggishness like the British, a skill on full display in “Decline and Fall,” a three-part adaptation of the Evelyn Waugh novel … The novel, Waugh’s first, pokes fun at snobbery and the British class system, which was far more rigid and dominant in 1928, when the book came out, than it is today.
A note accompanying the online publication explains that the article will appear in the print edition on 14 May with the headline “As Trousers Fall, A Decline Begins.”
The Fort-Worth Star-Telegram from the home state of Eva Longoria, who plays Margot Beste-Chetwynde in the film, reports:
School Daze: “Decline and Fall,” a laugh-out-loud miniseries based on a classic Evelyn Waugh novel, originated on BBC to rave reviews. … Jack Whitehall stars as Paul Pennyfeather, a young man drummed out of Oxford for morality infractions that weren’t his fault. He winds up teaching in a third-rate boarding school and falling head over heels with a dangerous widow (scene-stealing Eva Longoria).
A blogger in the UK (Nick Harris) was inspired by watching the series on the BBC to write a retrospective assessment of Waugh’s career as a modernist literary innovator. His article begins:
It is to be hoped that the BBC’s ongoing three part adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s first published novel, Decline and Fall, will have prompted a second look at both its writer and his life. … Watching this series, one might assume Waugh was a witty humorist, hilariously satirising public schooling, London high society, modern art and British culture. Waugh did do all of these things and it is tempting … for the satire and humour of his work to be seen as his greatest accomplishment. But Waugh was not just a proto-PG Wodehouse. The novels he produced are innovative and creative beyond measure in terms of prose styling whilst the more morbid and dispiriting trends which feature in most of his novels lend a fascinating insight into the Waugh’s interwar world…
Thanks to reader Dave Lull for sending along this interesting article.
Finally, another US news outlet, the San Diego Free Press, has posted an article by Brett Warnke in which another of Waugh’s comic novels is mentioned in the context of his critical appreciation of Californians:
…as you walk and talk in our beloved streets consider those strollers who, despite the planes and parrots, remain talking. The deafening sound has no competition but still they will speak, almost as if their words are as indistinct and unaccounted for as the morning mist that burns away. Evelyn Waugh noticed this and wrote his cynical 1948 novel “The Loved One”. To sink his teeth into Hollywood culture, he had an incisive comment on California. An Englishman, Sir Francis Hinsley, spoke of his contentment living in the Golden State.
“The climate suits me,” he says to his friends. “They are a very decent, generous lot of people out here and they don’t expect you to listen. Always remember that, dear boy. It’s the secret of social ease in this country. They talk entirely for their own pleasure. Nothing they say is designed to be heard.”
Southern California is, in its sprawling way in and before Waugh’s description, a place where communication even among city dwellers is hindered by geography.