[Waugh's] style has the desperate jauntiness of an orchestra fiddling away for dear life on a sinking ship.Arthur Evelyn St. John Waugh (1903 - 1966) was an English writer, known for his dark satires, which include Decline and Fall, Vile Bodies, Scoop, A Handful of Dust, and The Loved One. His single best-known novel is probably the relatively serious Brideshead Revisited. Another serious work was the Sword of Honour trilogy, set during World War II.Several of his novels have been filmed. Brideshead Revisited was made into a well-known TV miniseries in the 1980s.
— Edmund Wilson
Works by Evelyn Waugh with their own trope pages include:
Other works by Evelyn Waugh provide examples of:
- Advice Backfire: Happens with the Guru and Aimee Thanatogenos in The Loved One. He tells her to kill herself, and she does.
- Better to Die than Be Killed: Subverted in Decline And Fall; Grimes, who is an example of The Barnum, tells of "landing in the soup" (an Unusual Euphemism for being caught engaged in homosexual conduct) during World War I and being placed in a room and given a loaded revolver and some whiskey to settle his nerves, so that a court martial could be avoided and the official story would be that he died in combat. After debating this course of action, he decides he would rather live and is found roaring drunk when his fellow soldiers re-enter the room.
- Blitz Evacuees: In Put Out More Flags, the protagonist makes money off of an abominable group of urchins by leaving them with different families and then blackmailing the families into removing them from their home.
- Bulungi: Azania from Black Mischief, often interpreted as a stand-in for inter-war Ethiopia.
- Captured by Cannibals: In Black Mischief, the black tribesman are cannibals in the fictional East African country in which the novel is set.
- Classical Antihero: Decline and Fall has Butt-Monkey protagonist Paul Pennyfeather, who is one of these in the way he is rather a pushover taken advantage of by the other characters.
- Genteel Interbellum Setting: Various books, most notably Vile Bodies and Brideshead Revisited.
- Good Old Ways: In "Scott-King's Modern Europe", Scott-King refuses even to consider teaching anything but classics, even though that may mean he will be out of a job."They want to qualify their boys for jobs in the modern world. You can hardly blame them, can you?"
"Oh yes," said Scott-King. "I can and do."
"If you approve, headmaster, I will stay as I am here as long as any boy wants to read the classics. I think it would be very wicked indeed to do anything to fit a boy for the modern world."
- Gender-Blender Name: In a grand display of the universe's sense of humor, Evelyn Waugh's first wife was also named Evelyn.
- Grande Dame: Lady Circumference in Decline and Fall.
- Horrible Hollywood: The Loved One.
- Majored in Western Hypocrisy: Black Mischief has the Emperor Seth of the fictional African country Azania, who includes among his numerous titles a bachelor of arts degree at Oxford. The character is an interesting combination of Liberal Straw Character, Well-Intentioned Extremist and Tragic Hero.
- Multiple-Choice Past: Philbrick deliberately creates one for himself in Decline and Fall, giving each of the other characters a different version of how he fell under his current circumstances. When they compare notes and confront him about it, he tells them that none of the stories are true, but that they'll never know what really happened either.
- Phony Veteran: Grimes in Decline and Fall. Although he actually did serve in World War One, his missing leg is the result of a car accident after the war, but he does nothing to deflect the assumption that it's a war injury.
- Refuge in Audacity
- Ruritania: Vile Bodies just went ahead and named its version "Ruritania". The ex-king is a minor character who appears at a party and misses his old pen, which had an eagle on it.
- Snowball Lie: In Vile Bodies a gossip columnist writes about the exploits of a socialite named Imogen Quest. Soon, all the most fashionable people in London claim to be her closest friend. The trouble is that she is actually a figment of the columnist's imagination.