I’ve always known that Evelyn Waugh makes fun of his “upper class” country men in 1920’s England. But I didn’t know that he was so blatantly funny. I thought Decline and Fall would be a subtle parody of the rich and famous at the time but it’s actually in-your-face, morbid humour.
In other words, I loved it.
Within the first chapter, Pennyfeather, our antihero, is thrown out of priest school after being publicly disrobed by a group of students at the fictional Scone College at Oxford. From there, the plot thickens because he ends up teaching at Llanabba, a ridiculous public school which rarely teaches anything. By the way, “public schools” in England are actually the equivalent to “private schools” in US/ Canada in that the government doesn’t fund them. These are privileged rich kids, you see. But they make Gossip Girl characters seem homely.
Waugh obviously knew this world well as he was part of this elite group of rich kids in the 1920’s. I was impressed by his dry wit and humour. More than anything, you realize that Waugh is thoroughly bored out of his mind with this world and loves nothing more than to mock it. And despite being published in the 1920’s, it is highly, highly relatable to the world today.