Evelyn Waugh’s modern churchman

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One thought on “Evelyn Waugh’s modern churchman

  1. peterwebster June 5, 2017 / 7:53 am

    With thanks to Barbara Cooke (@decafB ), I find this sage comment on Prendy from the Waugh Book Group at the University of Leicester, connected to the current Complete Works project:

    ‘Decline and Fall is farcical and cruel, but it is also complex. We glimpsed here a technique, which will become familiar to us as we journey further into Waugh’s literature, of using one sentence or even just a few words to cut through an apparently frivolous atmosphere and bring us up short against something altogether more profound. For example while, the drunken and doubt-ridden Mr Prendergast is ridiculed throughout the narrative, Waugh also grants him a single moment of humanity. When Paul invites him out for a ‘binge’ with Captain Grimes, he is taken aback by his gratitude:

    ‘”Really, Pennyfeather… I don’t know what to say… I can’t remember when I dined at an hotel last. Certainly not since the war. it will be a treat. My dear boy, I’m quite overcome.’
    And, much to Paul’s embarrassment, a tear welled up in each of Mr Prendergast’s eyes, and coursed down his cheeks.

    It’s as if, having encouraged us to laugh at ‘Prendy’, Waugh performs an about-face and berates us – and Paul – for doing just that.