Evelyn Waugh's acidly funny and formally daring satire, Vile Bodies reveals the darkness and vulnerability that lurks beneath the glittering surface of the high life.
In the years following the First World War a new generation emerges, wistful and vulnerable beneath the glitter. The Bright Young Things of twenties' Mayfair, with their paradoxical mix of innocence and sophistication, exercise their inventive minds and vile bodies in every kind of capricious escapade - whether promiscuity, dancing, cocktail parties or sports cars. In a quest for treasure, a favourite party occupation, a vivid assortment of characters, among them the struggling writer Adam Fenwick-Symes and the glamorous, aristocratic Nina Blount, hunt fast and furiously for ever greater sensations and the fulfilment of unconscious desires.
If you enjoyed Vile Bodies, you might like Waugh's A Handful of Dust, also available in Penguin Modern Classics.
'The high point of the experimental, original Waugh' Malcolm Bradbury, Sunday Times
'This brilliantly funny, anxious and resonant novel ... the difficult edgy guide to the turn of the decade' Richard Jacobs
'It's Britain's Great Gatsby' Stephen Fry, director of Vile Bodies film adaptation Bright Young Things
Evelyn Waugh was born in Hampstead in 1903 and educated at Hertford College, Oxford. In 1928 he published his first novel, Decline and Fall, which was soon followed by Vile Bodies, Black Mischief (1932), A Handful of Dust (1934) and Scoop (1938). During these years he also travelled extensively and converted to Catholicism. In 1939 Waugh was commissioned in the Royal Marines and later transferred to the Royal Horse Guards, experiences which informed his Sword of Honour trilogy (1952-61). His most famous novel, Brideshead Revisited (1945), was written while on leave from the army. Waugh died in 1966.