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Vile Bodies (Penguin Modern Classics) Paperback – 28 Aug 2003

4.1 out of 5 stars 64 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (28 Aug. 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141187506
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141187501
  • Product Dimensions: 11.2 x 2.4 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 479,658 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Evelyn Waugh was born in 1903 and was educated at Hertford College, Oxford. In 1928 he published his first novel, Decline and Fall, which was soon followed by Vile Bodies (1930), Black Mischief (1932), A Handful of Dust (1934) and Scoop (1938). In 1945 he published Brideshead Revisited and he won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1952 for Men at Arms. Evelyn Waugh died in 1966.


Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a Waugh masterpiece. A deeply satirical novel, it should not be viewed as merely a chronicle of 1930s hedonism. It is, rather, an often extremely sad text as it chronicles the frustrations of inter-war Britain and Europe and the Old World's struggle to discover a new role. Ideally one should read Decline and Fall first, not simply for the integration of characters, but because Vile Bodies is in many respects the natural successor to Decline and Fall in its carrying through of the themes of the age. Do not be sucked into a superficial spin through the facade of the jazz age, this novel has, whilst being short and exhilharating, a darker subtext. This novel proves that there is so much more to Waugh than 'Brideshead'. I thoroughly recommend this novel, but suggest Decline and Fall is read first, and if anyone is curious enough compare the two to Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and Tender is the Night which share many common themes and make a fascinating comparison.
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Format: Paperback
I first read this book when I still lived in London years ago, and laughed until tears rolled down my face. I still like to dip into the time worn pages of my Penguin book and chuckle over the antics of the "bright young things." The descriptions of "flapper" and air balloon parties, stupid politians, machevalian clergy, film making, sports car racing and love affairs are funny, funny, funny. The writing style is sparse, well thought-out and easy to read. The characters are engaging, the situations are absurd and I highly recommend Vile Bodies as a great way to spend a dull, rainy evening. It will liven you up!
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Format: Paperback
There are four types of people in the world. Those who have never heard of Evelyn Waugh, those who think he's a woman and those who know him only as the author of Brideshead Revisted. The very rare fourth type knows Evelyn Waugh is one of the most brilliant satirists of all time and that in fact, Vile Bodies is his best effort. The second of 40 novels, Vile Bodies is his most characteristic work, brilliantly witty, stuffed with farcically brilliant characters who drink cocktails, go to costume parties, ride in motor cars and do little else. It was this novel that spawned the expression "bright young things" and is an excellent starting point for a love affair with Waugh. If you try it and love it, read Waugh's Put Out More Flags next.
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Format: Paperback
When I read Brideshead Revisted I had begun to wonder why Evelyn Waugh was so highly regarded. Vile Bodies answered the question perfectly. His creation of characters is beautiful and effortless and he handles humour and pathos with great skill. The narrative style is simple, and varied, keeping the reader interested throughout. What I found most compelling about the book was how Waugh excellently balanced the frivolous and vacuous lives of the Bright Young Things with the serious issues of their lifestyle and the world which they lived in. I enjoyed the novel from beginning to end, grew to love the characters whilst despairing of their shallow partying lifestyles, seeing what was ahead of them and pitying them.
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Format: Paperback
I'm not one to read classics on a regular basis, but I like the period and it was well worth it. The style does not feel like an 'old' book, far more like something you could read in a new release, the decadence and spontaneity, yet the closeness of the bread-line was startling in these characters but that was what it was like at the time, so this book feels like a window into their lives that seem so much more fun than our own.
In my copy Evelyn Waugh writes that during the writing of the book, he underwent some bitter experience, that effected the entire tone of the novel. I could not ascertain the exact point where he does that but he his quite right. The end is so bleak yet beautiful with such heavily ladled sarcasm I think it is a work of masterpiece. Ok slightly over the top, but well worth a read!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Some critics rate Evelyn Waugh among the top five English language writers of the 20th century. On the basis of Vile Bodies, and other books by EW, I wouldn't disagree with that, although such claims are always contentious. To be frank, much as I enjoyed the book, I thought the opening was rather rambling and didn't quite capture the interest. But once I'd got a handle on the main characters, the pace picked up with sharp lively dialogue that epitomised the wit and snobbery of the English upper middle classes of the early 1900s. Some of the writing is very modern, but other parts are curiously dated. From time to time Waugh throws in an authorial observation that is almost Victorian. But overall the writing flows pleasantly with an engaging storyline that focuses on bittersweet romance between Adam and Nina and the numerous outrageous scams that flow past them almost unnoticed.

The Penguin edition has a lot of notes on the text: which some might find helpful but which I found rather laboured and dull.
However they did not detract from my enjoyment of the book.
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By A Customer on 29 Jan. 2003
Format: Paperback
Waugh's ramshackle satire of "the younger generation" is nothing but hilarious. Though written as a book of its time, the satire hasn't staled. The situations are blissfully absurd (I shall never ever forget the happenings at the motor race), the characters varied and a joy to read and the plot slim and small enough to let a good amount of wit shine through. There are dark, ponderous undertones to the book, and these help to make one feel less guilty about reading an entirely whimsical book. As I'm studying English Lit, I strive to find books that allow my teachers to go "Aaah good" whilst still entertaining me. Waugh is perfect at doing that, as my teachers seem to think it's all Brideshead Revisited (yawns). Anyway, a marvellous, wonderful, wonderfully marvellous and upsettingly brief read. Oh, and it might be good to read Decline and Fall first if you haven't. There's a few character crossovers and so on. Can't wait for Stephen Fry's film version...
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