I DID NOT READ Evelyn Waugh at the time when he was first attracting attention. I never got started on him till a year ago, when I picked up a reprint of Decline and Fall and was so much exhilarated by it that I went on to Vile Bodies, and then read his four other novels in the order in which they were written. I may thus lay claim to a fresh impression of Evelyn Waugh's work--an impression, I believe, not much influenced by any journalistic interest that work may have had, appearing at the end of the twenties, as a picture of the delirium of that period. Nothing can taste staler today than some of the stuff that seemed to mean something then, that gave us twinges of bitter romance and thrills of vertiginous drinking. But The Great Gatsby and The Sun Also Rises hold up; and my feeling is that these novels of Waugh's are the only things written in England that are comparable to Fitzgerald and Hemingway. They are not so poetic; they are perhaps less intense; they belong to a more classical tradition. But I think that they are likely to last and that Waugh, in fact, is likely to figure as the only first-rate comic genius that has appeared in English since Bernard Shaw.
The great thing about Decline and Fall, written when the author was twenty-five, was its breath-taking