Waugh, Satire and Conservatism

The neoconservative news website Washington Free Beacon considers the source of satire in its review of Christopher Buckley’s latest novel The Relic Master:

There’s a line about satire you sometimes hear—a line how all truly great satire, the hilariously brutal stuff, is written by conservatives. Or, at least, a line about how all the best satirists end up expressing deeply conservative ideas…So, for example, Evelyn Waugh started out as the most vicious satirist of his generation, and he certainly ended up a profound conservative. The underrated Tom Sharpe began by writing satires of apartheid South Africa, and he would go on to write stuff as openly hostile to modern Britain as his jaw-droppingly funny 1978 book, The Throwback. Christopher Buckley, for yet another example, would begin his 10-novel romp through the fields of comedy with satires of the presidency in his 1986 The White House Mess and the tobacco industry in his 1994 Thank You for Smoking. And now Buckley has given us a satire set in a place and time as distant from the modern political world as he could find—looking for comedy in late medieval Europe with his new book, The Relic Master.

The reviewer, Joseph Bottum, goes on to express some doubts about Buckley’s conservatism given his 2008 support for Barack Obama, “a leftist Presidential candidate,” but thinks he sees the true spirit of conservatism shining through in the wit and humanity of this and his earlier novels.

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