Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead (TEXT ONLY)

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HarperCollins UK, Nov 22, 2012 - History - 384 pages

A terrifically engaging and original biography about one of England’s greatest novelists, and the glamorous, eccentric, debauched and ultimately tragic family that provided him with the most significant friendships of his life and inspired his masterpiece, ‘Brideshead Revisited’.

Evelyn Waugh was already famous when ‘Brideshead Revisited’ was published in 1945. Written at the height of the war, the novel was, he admitted, of no ‘immediate propaganda value’. Instead, it was the story of a household, a family and a journey of religious faith – an elegy, in many ways, for a vanishing world and a testimony to a family he had fallen in love with a decade earlier.

The Lygons of Madresfield were every bit as glamorous, eccentric and compelling as their counterparts in ‘Brideshead Revisited’. In this engrossing biography, Paula Byrne takes an innovative approach to her subject, setting out to capture Waugh through those friendships that mattered most to him. Far from the snobbish misanthropist of popular caricature, she uncovers a man as loving and complex as the family that inspired him – a family deeply traumatised when their father was revealed as a homosexual and forced to flee the country.

This brilliantly original biography unlocks for the first time the extent to which Waugh’s great novel encoded and transformed his own experiences. In so doing, it illuminates the loves and obsessions that shaped his life, and brings us inevitably to a secret that dared not speak its name.

 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - nigeyb - LibraryThing

Paula Byrne set out to write this book because she believed that Evelyn Waugh had been consistently misrepresented as a snob and a curmudgeonly misanthropist. I, for one, am very glad that she did ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - etxgardener - LibraryThing

Evelyn Waugh used his entire life and those of his friends as copy for his many novels, so this literary biography that concentrates on his years in Oxford and through World War II is an excellent ... Read full review

Contents

Section 1
5
Section 2
22
Section 3
44
Section 4
66
Section 5
77
Section 6
88
Section 7
100
Section 8
113
Section 14
201
Section 15
210
Section 16
225
Section 17
236
Section 18
247
Section 19
258
Section 20
269
Section 21
286

Section 9
129
Section 10
152
Section 11
161
Section 12
174
Section 13
187
Section 22
299
Section 23
332
Section 24
333
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About the author (2012)

Paula Byrne was born in Birkenhead and has a PhD from the University of Liverpool, where she is a Research Fellow in English Literature. Her first book, ‘Jane Austen and the Theatre’, was shortlisted for the Theatre Book Prize. Her second book, ‘Perdita’, was a Richard and Judy bookclub pick. A regular contributor to the ‘Times Literary Supplement’, she lives in Warwickshire with her two young children and her husband, the critic and biographer Jonathan Bate.

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