[Waugh's] style has the desperate jauntiness of an orchestra fiddling away for dear life on a sinking ship.
Arthur Evelyn St. John Waugh (1903-1966) was an English writer, known for his dark satires, which include Decline and Fall, Vile Bodies, Scoop, A Handful of Dust, and The Loved One. His single best-known novel is probably the relatively serious Brideshead Revisited. Another serious work was the Sword of Honour trilogy, set during World War II.
Several of his novels have been made into films, and Brideshead Revisited was made into a well-known TV miniseries in the 1980s.
- Blitz Evacuees: In Put Out More Flags, the Heroic Sociopath protagonist makes money off of an abominable group of urchins by leaving them with different families and then blackmailing the families into removing them from their home.
- Bulungi: Ishmaelia in Scoop.
- Captured by Cannibals: In Black Mischief, the black tribesman are cannibals in the fictional East African country in which the novel is set.
- Comically Missing the Point: In Scoop, the protagonist sends all his reports back to England by telegram in fully worded English, prompting the newspaper to suggest that he adopt the more usual practice of abbreviations to reduce the cost. He replies thanking them for their concern, and explaining that it's not costing him anything because he's charging all his telegrams to his expense account.
- Foreign Correspondent: In Scoop the protagonist and many supporting characters are journalists covering an Eastern African country likely based on Ethiopia.
- Genteel Interbellum Setting: Various books, most notably Vile Bodies and Brideshead Revisited.
- Good Old Ways: In "Scott-King's Modern Europe", Scott-King refuses even to consider teaching anything but classics, even though that may mean he will be out of a job.
"They want to qualify their boys for jobs in the modern world. You can hardly blame them, can you?"
- Horrible Hollywood: The Loved One.
- Majored in Western Hypocrisy: Black Mischief has the Emperor Seth of the fictional African country Azania, who includes among his numerous titles a bachelor of arts degree at Oxford. The character is an interesting combination of Liberal Straw Character, Well-Intentioned Extremist and Tragic Hero.
- Phony Veteran: Grimes in Decline and Fall. Although he actually did serve in World War One, his missing leg is the result of a car accident after the war, but he does nothing to deflect the assumption that it's a war injury.
- Refuge in Audacity
- Ruritania: Vile Bodies just went ahead and named its version "Ruritania". The ex-king is a minor character who appears at a party and misses his old pen, which had an eagle on it.
- Snipe Hunt: The protagonist of Scoop is sent to buy a variety of non-existent items to prepare for a foreign journey. He's served by an extremely resentful shop assistant who has had the bad luck to always get stuck serving naifs on similar shopping excursions, and who believes that they're just pretending in order to waste his time.
- that is, the newspaper's