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Summary The Sword of Honour Trilogy

Free read ✓ The Sword of Honour Trilogy 106 ☆ ✅ The Sword of Honour Trilogy PDF / Epub ⚣ Author Evelyn Waugh – Dogsalonbristol.co.uk This trilogy of novels about World War II largely based on his own experiences as an army officer is the crowning achievement of Evelyn Waugh's career Its central character is Guy CroFirst discovers new purpose in the challenge to defend Christian values against Nazi barbarism but then gradually finds the complexities and cruelties of Sword of Honour Epub #223 war too much for him Yet though often somber the Sword of Honour trilogy is also a brilliant comedy. Waugh's Final WordsEssentially this is Waugh's swansong three novels about the adventures of his uasi autobiographical hero Guy Crouchback in the Second World War gathered together by him and edited into a single volume at the end of his life This is a compendium of my separate reviews of the individual volumes as I read them followed by a brief consideration of the Trilogy as a whole Men at Arms 1952 suggested Evelyn Waugh's Sword of Honour trilogy the novel seuence that crowned the author's career as something of similar interest to Anthony Powell's Dance to the Music of Time which I am engaged on currently Whereas Powell covers three decades in twelve volumes Waugh treats half a decade in three—a fiction distilled from his own checkered experiences as a somewhat older officer in the Second World War I have not reached the euivalent period in the Powell yet but I find it hard to believe that he could be anything like as immediate touching or downright funny as Waugh For Waugh is a satirist but a satirist with serious concerns and an unusually realistic touch For although this clearly falls into the general category of army comedies—a frustrating saga of administrative snafus and occasional action—it also comes over as a convincing account of how things must have felt as Britain was muddling through that deceptive period of the phony war before complacency got shattered at DunkirkWaugh's protagonist Guy Crouchback is 36 when this first novel opens A scion of an aristocratic Catholic family that has fallen on bad times he has spent most of his adult life as an expatriate first in Kenya and later in Italy Returning home to do his bit he finds most doors closed to a man of his age But a friend of his father's gets him a probationary commission in the Halberdiers an unusual outfit combining ancient regimental pride with an unconventional approach to training and leadership Glad though I am never to have been mixed up in anything like this myself I found the descriptions of mess life and daily routine to be uite fascinating Guy's position as an older volunteer allows the reader to look on as a voyeur even as Guy is giving himself heart and soul to his new familyFor this is what I think the book is really about belonging Guy has suffered numerous losses one brother to the previous war another to suicide the family home to debt his years in Kenya and Italy lost to circumstance and his wife to divorce He is a Catholic in a predominantly Anglican world He is looking for something or someone to give him a family an identity a place to belong He finds this at least at first in the Halberdiers Anyone who remembers their first days in a new school will feel for him but also smile For by a masterstroke Waugh contrasts Guy with another older volunteer an old Africa hand named Apthorpe who speaks all the lingo knows all the ropes possesses all the right euipment It takes a while for us to see Apthorpe as a comic figure the boastful miles gloriosus that he is—the saga of his thunderbox or private portable toilet is a masterpiece of farce—but meanwhile Guy's failure to move up so uickly has got to hurt Yet it is Guy who is involved in real action at the end in a seuence off the coast of Dakar that is both the culmination of his real military abilities and the end of his love affair with the regiment It is a very funny book but with the sad tinge of truthOfficers and Gentlemen 1955Let me state the negatives first This the middle novel of Waugh's Sword of Honour trilogy is not a book I would recommend reading out of context Although the references to the first novel Men at Arms are mostly incidental they are freuent and often unexplained The first volume was held together by the story of its protagonist 36 year old Guy Crouchback finding his way into a temporary commission with a rather unusual regiment the Halberdiers in the first years of WW2 Here however Guy disappears for long stretches Readers of the first volume will recognize secondary characters as old colleagues from the Halberdiers mess or subseuent husbands or lovers of Guy's divorced wife but without those connections the first half of the novel may seem rather diffuse Fortunately the ending makes up for itA major theme of the novel is contained in the title Officers and Gentlemen in popular speech are supposed to be synonymous But in wartime not necessarily so Guy as minor aristocracy and a uietly resourceful soldier is decidedly both But much of the focus of the first part of the book is given to an operator called Trimmer A former hairstylist he is certainly no gentleman and pretty useless as an officer too Yet he happens to fill the bill for a nation starved for heroes and after a farcical episode has been inflated into a selfless act of derring do he finds himself promoted far beyond his deserts But gentlemen can fail as officers also; there is at least one character of impeccably blue blood who lets the side down rather badly Although he never seems to win the laurels Guy is the rare touchstone by which most of the others are measured and found wantingThe novel begins in the world of P G Wodehouse upper class twits exchanging vapid repartee in London clubs Soon this changes to satire of a different sort making fun of the self perpetuating bureaucracy of warfare where everyone and everything is referred to by an alphabet soup of initials The comedy would probably mean in the postwar years when people were still reeling from a surfeit of such absurdities; at times it seems almost like a British version of Catch 22But then at the halfway point the tone changes Guy as a member of a commando outfit called Hookforce gets sent to Crete just too late to prevent the German invasion This part is almost autobiographical and it shows Waugh himself as part of a similarly named force was one of the last to escape Crete before the final surrender Suddenly the picture of the chaos of war becomes horribly true The tone of comedy remains but it is no longer distinguishable from the real thing for war itself can out satirize any satire The last third of the book is a magnificent achievement that almost compensates for the diffuseness of the opening and most certainly sets the stage for the final volumeThe End of the Battle 1961I have to express disappointment though that this final volume was not published in the USA under its original title Unconditional Surrender Perhaps that sounded too negative for a book set in the last years of the Second World War but despite their superficially happy endings Waugh's novels do typically have a dying fall Besides the original title has many meanings beyond the military one It might refer to the protagonist Guy Crouchback's acceptance of his situation in the wartime army seeing many less able men promoted around and above him It might refer to his ex wife Virginia's surrender to the Catholic faith part of a gentle transformation that develops the character far beyond her former role as a femme fatale and plot complication It might describe the elegiac atmosphere surrounding the funeral of Guy's elderly father which makes a central set piece of some seriousness And it certainly refers to the book's final sections when Guy is sent to monitor mopping up operations in Yugoslavia as bands of partisans fight other bands with an eye less to the imminent elimination of the Germans than to positioning themselves in the postwar world with respect to communism and the underlying ethnic tensions that we have seen flare up in recent yearsThis is one section of the book that does not seem at all dated In the earlier parts of the novel as elsewhere in the trilogy I sometimes felt I was reading a roman à clef without the key One senses that contemporary readers would recognize the peripatetic civilian Sir Ralph Brompton who manages to have a finger in every pie They would know the uestionable merits of the literary magazine Survival published with government funds And when Guy's Corporal Major Ludovic from Officers and Gentlemen devotes the last years of his war to producing a mammoth best selling novel contemporary readers would have had one or two candidates in mindStill these are minor lacunae What makes the novel work for me are two moral threads running through its episodic structure One is political and muted the dilemma of taking as an ally a country Russia which in every respect other than its anti fascism seems the moral antithesis of traditional English values The other is personal and deep seated Struck at his father's funeral by a sense of his own uselessness Guy prays that God will give him the chance to do some small service which only he could perform for which he had been created In fact he gets two such chances one concerning his ex wife and the other working to help a group of Jewish refugees who have been sidelined in the Yugoslavian strife That neither opportunity has an entirely perfect ending and that the final pag

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Peopled by the fantastic figures so familiar from Waugh's early satires The deepest pleasures these novels afford come from observing a great satiric writer employ his gifts with extraordinary subtlety delicacy and human feeling for purposes that are ultimately anything but satiri. An immensely entertaining and thought provoking account of one man's experience in WWII Despite Guy Crouchback's thinly veiled fictional version of Evelyn Waugh best efforts to do his part to he is destined to always be on the periphery of the war Contributing but not very heroically Even when he finds himself in the thick of things Battle of Crete May 1941 his experience is as a glorified message boy He is constantly walking from one post to another during the battle An officer without troops No chance to make his mark In the end though Guy's unspectacular wartime career ends up working out for the best He is spared being horrifically wounded and maimed he isn't shattered by his experiences and of course he lives I've never read Evelyn Waugh before Like millions of other Americans I've seen the television mini series of Brideshead Revisited but this is the first time I've read any of his work Though I know that others have expressed a distaste for Waugh's satire and prose I found myself likely it almost instantly I don't know if the upper class and middle class of England were really like this but I had a great time nevertheless I felt as if I was in an Agatha Christie story and went left when Hercule Poirot went right and found myself in the study with Waugh and his creations There is humor and gravity in this novel Waugh combines the two elements and it works very well I'm impressed This is not a glorification of the war or the generation that had to participate in it People are just people Some are heroic while others are cowardly Often at the same time Competence and incompetence go hand in hand Though there is the exaggeration that is to be expected of a work of fiction especially a satirical work of fiction the descriptions of the sheer boredom and ennui and the chaos of Action Now are dead on Armies exist to fight wars and wars are both ludicrous and deadly serious Often at the same time Waugh realized this and he does an excellent job bringing this dichotomy to lifeIf you go into this book expecting a novel about British WWII daring do along the lines of Alistair Maclean or Hammond Innes you will be tremendously disappointed You probably won't get beyond the first fifty pages However if you're wanting to read a novel about how one of the greatest catastrophes in Human history effected the small island of England people societyCatholic church and so on I think you'll enjoy Sword of Honor

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The Sword of Honour TrilogyOf Honour PDFEPUB #227 This trilogy of novels about World War II largely based on his own experiences as an army officer is the crowning achievement of Evelyn Waugh's career Its central character is Guy Crouchback The Sword Epubhead of an ancient but decayed Catholic family who at. 1 Men At Arms 3This first part of what was originally a trilogy was uite uneven for me Guy Crouchback is a well intentioned though ineffective man who in his late 30s joins the army to 'do his bit' The opening section in training is the funniest with the farcical episode of Apthorpe and his 'thunder box' being especially hilarious But there are long sections where Guy is shunted around aimlessly or himself goes off on a uest to locate the owner of a legacy for which he has taken responsibility which are dullThe bureaucracy and confusion of a national military force being mobilised is conveyed but there's also an old fashioned sense of the army being led by old buffers who inhabit privileged clubs in Piccadilly which perhaps gives a skewed view of the British war effort the officers who see Dunkirk as 'running away' for example There's a typically Waughesian episode on the Isle of Mugg which lifts things towards the end but I'm finding this looser and less sharp than I expected 3 stars for this first volume2 Officers and Gentlemen 3In this second part Guy manages to both take an active part in the war and to gain some warmth from me His concern for a dead man on Crete finally made him come to life as a person and not just a PoV character there to offer up a detached observation on the war and a filter for Waugh's own views His joy at being greeted with welcome by his old Halberdier company and his ability to remember the name of at least one man serving under him helped And the description of the chaotic retreat from Crete is well done though it's uite opaue as to what happens while Guy is delirious With Virginia back on the scene I thought this book had turned around for me until the German invasion of Russia happens in the background and Guy's reaction turned me against him all over again two years before when he read of the Russo German alliance when a decade of shame seemed to be ending in light and reason when the Enemy was plain in view huge and hateful all disguise cast off; now that hallucination was dissolved and he was back in the old ambiguous world and his country was led blundering into dishonour To write off the deaths of 20m Russians in the struggle against Hitler as a British alliance of 'dishonour' seems extraordinary to me For all the fine writing the humour the tragedy and pathos fundamentally I just can't get on with Waugh's reactionary political views which are on full display here He despises the Russians the Americans who are arriving in London anyone working or middle class anything that speaks to a sweeping away of old and entrenched social hierarchies and aristocratic values and uite a few women I can't share Waugh's politics or misanthropy but I'm interested enough to finish the trilogy3 Unconditional Surrender 2This third and final part went downhill for me as it becomes increasingly episodic and picaresue Yet again Guy is hanging around London looking for a job yet again he bumbles through his training and injures his knee yep again Things pick up when he gets sent to Yugoslavia to liaise with communist partisans fighting fascism and we have another of those brief moments like the one in Crete where Guy actually comes to life and shows some compassion for the Jewish refugees with whom he's confronted But that's soon over For someone who's supposedly concerned with his Catholic spiritual welfare I find Guy remarkably emotionally cold and uncaring view spoiler'Virginia has been killed Peregrine too The news did not affect Guy greatly' hide spoiler