Thursday, 5 January 2012

Waugh in Context

There's an interesting article by Paul Johnson in the January/February edition of Standpoint on 'Novelists at arms'. It dwells slightly too much for my taste on the inspiration for Waugh's characters in The Sword of Honour trilogy, but it does at least put Evelyn Waugh's novels about World War II in some sort of literary context.

I'd want to take this contextual analysis further. Johnson doesn't mention Catch-22 or Slaughterhouse 5, for example, let alone the perspective of other nationalities. Mo Yan's Red Sorghum (and even J.G. Ballard's Empire of the Sun) gives a much needed Chinese perspective on the wars of the 1930s and 40s. But you can't have everything and what he gives us is well worth reading.

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