Decline and Fall
June 30, 2015 § Leave a comment
The absurd tale of Paul Pennyfeather is a dark, social satire of English society in the late 20’s. Wodehouse’s influence on Waugh is strongly felt in this story, albeit the tone being substantially darker than anything found in Wodehouse’s novels. The label of satire can also be extended to Waugh’s other novels: Vile Bodies, A Handful of Dust, and Scoop.
The title is an allusion to The Decline of the West by Spengler and Gibbon’s The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Waugh read both of these works whilst writing his novel. The rise of nations and empires is followed by their demise and downfall; the impending collapse of the Empire, and the evolving social and cultural values, may have prompted Waugh to pick the above title. Similar themes exist in his other novel: Brideshead Revisited.
Yet, Decline and Fall remains in essence a terrifically entertaining and enjoyable novel.