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Sword of Honour [Paperback]

Evelyn Waugh , Angus Calder
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
RRP: 14.99
Price: 10.49 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

29 Mar 2001 Penguin Modern Classics

Fictionalising his experience of service during the Second World War, Evelyn Waugh's Sword of Honour is the complete one-volume edition of his masterful trilogy, edited with an introduction by Angus Calder in Penguin Modern Classics.

Waugh's own unhappy experience of being a soldier is superbly re-enacted in this story of Guy Crouchback, a Catholic and a gentleman, commissioned into the Royal Corps of Halberdiers during the war years 1939-45. High comedy - in the company of Brigadier Ritchie-Hook or the denizens of Bellamy's Club - is only part of the shambles of Crouchback's war. When action comes in Crete and in Yugoslavia, he discovers not heroism, but humanity. Sword of Honour combines three volumes: Officers and Gentlemen, Men at Arms and Unconditional Surrender, which were originally published separately. Extensively revised by Waugh, they were published as the one-volume Sword of Honour in 1965, in the form in which Waugh himself wished them to be read.

Evelyn Waugh (1903-66) was born in Hampstead, second son of Arthur Waugh, publisher and literary critic, and brother of Alec Waugh, the popular novelist. In 1928 he published his first work, a life of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and his first novel, Decline and Fall, which was soon followed by Vile Bodies (1930), A Handful of Dust (1934) and Scoop (1938). In 1939 he was commissioned in the Royal Marines and later transferred to the Royal Horse Guards, serving in the Middle East and in Yugoslavia. In 1942 he published Put Out More Flags and then in 1945 Brideshead Revisited. Men at Arms (1952) was the first volume of 'The Sword of Honour' trilogy, and won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize; the other volumes, Officers and Gentlemen and Unconditional Surrender, followed in 1955 and 1961.

If you enjoyed Sword of Honour, you might like Ford Madox Ford's Parade's End, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.

'Marvellous ... one of the masterpieces of the century'

John Banville, Irish Times

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Product details

  • Paperback: 736 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (29 Mar 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141184973
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141184975
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 50,345 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966) was born in London and educated at Oxford. He quickly established a reputation with such social satirical novels as DECLINE AND FALL, VILE BODIES and SCOOP. Waugh became a Catholic in 1930, and his later books display a more serious attitude, as seen in the religious theme of BRIDESHEAD REVISITED, a nostalgic evocation of student days at Oxford. His diaries were published in 1976, and his letters in 1980.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
When Guy Crouchback's grandparents, Gervase and Hermione, came to Italy on their honeymoon, French troops manned the defences of Rome,1 the Sovereign Pontiff drove out in an open carriage and Cardinals took their exercise side-saddle on the Pincian Hill. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding work of enduring relevance 17 May 2002
Witty and tragic, engaging and insightful, this work must be counted next to 'Brideshead Revisited' as Waugh's most enduring novel. Sword of Honour effortlessly treads the line between the personal and the political - it is at once an indictment of the incompetence of the Allied war effort, and a moving study of one man's journey from isolation to self fulfilment. The chaos of war throws up winners and losers in a way which is at once unpredictable and disconcerting - for many readers this work will be an invaluable lesson in the horrors (and petty joys) which war brings.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Waugh on War 1 May 2010
By Mrs. K. A. Wheatley TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
I love Evelyn Waugh's writing and was amazed to come across this and realize that I hadn't read it before. I took it on holiday with me, as it is a fairly weighty tome, being three novels in one. In his introduction Waugh writes that he wrote the three books as single volumes in order to make money, but that he always knew they would work best together in one volume and edited it accordingly.

It is semi-autobiographical, dealing with Waugh's experiences in WWII through the fictional life of Guy Crouchback, a socially inept aristocrat whose only real feeling is about his Roman Catholic faith. Waugh states in the introduction that he intended it to be his thoughts about the War, but on re-reading it, realises it is his eulogy to the Catholic church. I would say it's about fifty fifty and none the worse for that.

There are bright splashes of the satire to be found in Scoop and The Loved Ones here along with the tragedy and cynicism about society that colour A Handful of Dust and Brideshead Revisited, all set against the war being played out in London, Crete and the Balkans. It is touching and tragic and blackly funny, particularly the segment where Guy is sent for training on the isle of Mugg. A great book.
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34 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great work by a master 16 Jan 2000
By A Customer
A revealing, semi-autobiographical tale of EW's journey and ultimate spiritual fulfilment - 'Unconditional Surrender' - camouflaged under the guise of one Lt/Captain/Lt Guy Crouchback RC, Royal Corps of Halberdiers.

I found 'Officers & Gentlemen', the middle section of the three volumes quite by serendipity, long ago whilst on an extended holiday in Tobago, West Indies. Having previously read none of EW's work and with the requisite amount of time on my hands, I became utterly absorbed; and slightly irritated. It was a unique tale, and yet unsettling for some reason. I longed to read the first & last books in the series. Back in the UK and having sought out and read the rest of the trilogy, I began to understand something of the mastery of the language that this man possessed. His work demands much of the reader, and if the reader cares to respond, he or she will not be disappointed. I am no longer irritated or unsettled by his writing.

Funny, bitter, perceptive, witty, dry, deeply enjoyable but above all else, beautifully written.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
By Jeremy Bevan TOP 500 REVIEWER
Perhaps Evelyn Waugh's finest work, this is his one-volume edition of the trilogy whose parts were previously published separately as `Men at Arms', `Officers and Gentlemen' and `Unconditional Surrender'. The three novels follow Guy Crouchback, scion of an ancient English Catholic family, exiled to Italy by the disgrace he feels at his own divorce. At the start of World War II, he returns to fight for his country against the `Modern Age' represented by the looming threat of Nazism.

Despite the subject-matter, it's actually a very funny, if at times rather too genteel, satire on the futility of war, which seems to amount to one per cent heroics (and some of that a very dubious snatching of honour from the jaws of farce) and ninety-nine per cent boredom, time-wasting, foul-ups and general folly. Throughout, Crouchback's attitude remains fairly enigmatic, though he is clearly meant to be a cipher for Waugh's own feelings lamenting the passing of old-fashioned chivalrous and courteous ways. That the work's main figure should remain so under-developed is perhaps a reflection of Waugh's professed lack of interest in character, which he sidelines in favour of `an exercise in the use of language - drama, speech and events'.

It's impossible not to warm to Crouchback, though, as he attempts to do the best for his men and country, whether on farcical training exercises in Scotland, the chaos of retreat during the fall of Crete, or among the partisans and beleaguered Jews of Yugoslavia. Never quite `up' with what goes on, frequently outflanked by modernity, he nonetheless emerges from the tragedy of personal loss - of family, of values - if not unscathed, then at least not bowed and broken. As Waugh's own mature reflection on the passing of an age, this is a work to be savoured.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A real classic 25 Mar 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Wonderfully illuminating about the muddle, incoherent decisions, chance events, civilian life, accidental bravery, and social class dynamics of the second world war. Told with a wry but gently forgiving irony, with experiences in and outside Europe and a rich cast of characters: there are permutations of nobility, devoutness, promiscuity, self-absorption, snobbery, courage and craziness.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An old friend revisited 5 April 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I read this trilogy many years age, and have been meaning to return to it for ages. This is the revised one volume version, and I was inspired to buy it by reading an interesting review in "Slightly Foxed", the excellent reader's quarterly magazine. I have not been disappointed. It is both funny and very touching, reflecting as it does Waugh's own war experience. I thoroughly recommend it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very pleased with the ease of ordering and speed of delivery.
Published 14 days ago by JDL
4.0 out of 5 stars Well, I enjoyed it in parts as the Curate said
I really, really enjoyed more than the first few chapters, and then some more, possibly because they explained things like Army life and traditions to a bloke like me who had no... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Billy The Baker
5.0 out of 5 stars Epic and extraordinary. A wonderful book
Through Guy Crouchback, the detached observer and would be knight, who thought his private honour would be satisfied by war, Evelyn Waugh perfectly captures the bureaucracy,... Read more
Published 7 months ago by nigeyb
5.0 out of 5 stars Evelyn Waugh is one of my favorite authors,and this triology is...
I nthink you have a cheek to demand more of me--I have already supplied a lot of information; it should be up to me to decided how much time I am prepared to spend. Read more
Published 8 months ago by DR JOHN BURKE
4.0 out of 5 stars Non Com
Bought to catch up with books I should have read. Sometimes I found it difficult to place who some of the characters were, but in general this was both funny and at the same time... Read more
Published 8 months ago by jimbo
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Perspective on Honour
This is a highly intelligent and superbly written book. I loved the irony and honesty of the characterisation. It is also most enlightening on aspects of the second world war. Read more
Published 8 months ago by John Holland
4.0 out of 5 stars good entertaining read . fun to try to sort out fact from fiction
A different war book from the run of the mill. I read somewhere it was a satire. I don’t think it is pure satire. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Perdix
5.0 out of 5 stars None
Compared to collected volumes these are overpriced as individual volumes. Why is it more than 3 times the price? Should be clearer and more consistent.
Published 15 months ago by Selrouge
1.0 out of 5 stars Outrageous Pricing For Kindle Edition
Outrageous profiteering by Amazon regarding the Kindle price. Please boycott Kindle for this book and buy a paper copy, perhaps Amazon will take the hint.
Published 16 months ago by Tome Raider
5.0 out of 5 stars Waugh at his best
I have read this trilogy many times but each new time I enjoy it at least as much as the previous time. Waugh "gets" the British Army brilliantly. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Retroman
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