The craft of cruelty: an anatomy of the satiric fiction of Evelyn Waugh (Seminar, 26th May)

Evelyn Waugh, circa 1940 via Wikimedia Commons
Evelyn Waugh, circa 1940 via Wikimedia Commons

Join the next Inventions of the Text seminar, where Dr Jason Harding will do something that one is not supposed to: explain a joke – specifically the humour of Evelyn Waugh. The seminar takes place in the Department of English Studies, 26th May, starting at 17.30. Postgraduates and staff from all relevant humanities departments across the UK are welcome.

This paper attempts to do what we are told we should not do: explain a joke. More precisely, it seeks to employ a close attention to Evelyn Waugh’s language to establish an anatomy of the art of his early satiric fiction, dissecting a series farcical, comic, satirical and tragi-comic episodes. It ends by contemplating the grim smile of nihilism at work in his oeuvre withering all humane values.

Future Inventions of the Text seminars will cover topics including novels about the Indian mutiny, Shelley’s poetry, and video games and modernism.

2 thoughts on “The craft of cruelty: an anatomy of the satiric fiction of Evelyn Waugh (Seminar, 26th May)

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  1. There is nothing funny about nihilism. It is disgusting. Making cruelty into a “craft” is also disgusting. Why would anyone attempt to develop cruelty? Why neutrally study cruelty when it is clearly disgusting and loathsome?

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    1. This seminar was a couple of years ago, but from memory the talk acknowledged the contradictions and tensions you point out, and which Waugh is self-conscious of as a writer. As the summary says, nihilism wears a ‘grim smile’ in his work, not a happy one.

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