An academic study of Waugh’s novel A Handful of Dust has been published in the Ganziatep University Journal of Social Studies (01/2019, v18, n1). The university is a public institution located in Southeastern Turkey. The article is entitled “The Doomed Struggle of Tony Last with Society and the Individual in Evelyn Waugh’s A Handful of Dust.” It is written by Cemre Mimoza Bartu who teaches in the English Language Faculty of Haceteppe University in Ankara. Here’s the abstract of the article:
A Handful of Dust (1934), the fourth novel of Evelyn Waugh, deals with the struggles of the protagonist Tony Last in various stages of the twentieth century society. Waugh in this novel illustrates a dark picture of the twentieth century English society and its individuals with the aim of laying bare the “human selfishness and self-delusion” (Ward, 2008, p.679). In general sense, the author directs his criticism towards the various aspects of English social life indicating the pervading decadence in the soul of the individual and modern zeitgeist. Focusing on Tony Last’ marriage, social relationships and expedition to Brazil, Waugh delineates the portrait of an innocent man who values the past and its traditions. Yet, in order to survive in the society Tony embarks on a quest for self-identity but fails in each attempt. Coinciding with the time of the author’s own personal tragedies, the novel also revolves around some certain autobiographical parallelism that Waugh suffered from. As a means of critique of the society and its members, he juxtaposes himself with his character Tony Last to demonstrate their struggle. So as to illustrate Tony’s futile attempts in his struggle, Waugh writes two different endings for the novel, both of which end in utter failures. Therefore, by virtue of individual failures and socio-cultural corruption, the novel is concerned with the struggle of Tony Last who is surrounded by those individual, cultural and social adversities. In this study, the modernist theme of the quest of the individual will be analysed through Tony Last’s quest in social and personal spheres by also demonstrating Waugh’s critique of the modern times.
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