am 6. Dezember 1998
This hilarious classic combines with entwines satirical humour a proportionate observation of british society in the early twentieth century with pure entertainment. Evelyn tackles scenes of ridiculous hilarity with wonderous talent this novel is pure genious. I loved the scene in the church. The characters are perfectly formed in their originality and build most of the comedy of this brilliant novel well worth the time and money to read for all ages!!!
am 14. September 1997
One of Waugh's comic masterpieces, Decline and Fall stands as a hilarious meditation on the calamities imposed on the support players in a superficially dignified world. Waugh's brief first novel is a scathing send up of 20th century aristocracy and its institutions, beginning with public (i.e., private, in Britain) boarding schools and progressing on, uproariously and yet somehow logically, to the British prison system.
All the stylistic reserve and precision of Waugh's later works are in place in this novel, the earlier sections of which are loosely based on the author's brief stint as a teacher at an all-boys school. But Tom Brown's School Days this isn't. Mad deans, criminal instructors, worldly lads and promiscuous parents all provide gusts of absurd comedy that keep this whirlwind of absurd happenstance and hypocrisy twisting. Protagonist Pennyfeather blithely ricochets between charges of indecency and pimping with little notion of his own culpability--indeed, there is none. When, at the novel's end, his fortunes run full circle, the valuelessness of aristocratic standing is confirmed, as is Waugh's early promise as a satirist of the first rank.
am 23. Juli 2000
On one level, "Decline and Fall" is a wild farce of English manners complete with odd characters, dry humor, and impossible situations. In Waugh's humor, you can see the foundation for many British comics to come. (As an example, the "Sports" chapter alone could easily be transformed into a Monty Python skit.) Within his breezy and compact prose, Waugh delivers consistent laughs -- which makes the novel an enjoyable read.
But underneath the surface, Waugh is a wicked and sharp satirist who takes on many of the pillars of British culture c.1920 including the church, the schools, class structure, and the prisons. He occasionally uses ghastly imagery to make his point. But the tone never falters, and the reader may choose not to give second thought to all the pillorying going on. (As an aside, "Decline and Fall" would make an excellent selection for a student required to read "satire". It is much more accessible than, say, Candide.)
am 3. September 1998
One of the great, funny, short reads that I have encountered. Waugh weaves satiric barbs into the pretentious, absurd fabric of post-WWI British "society" (which persists to the present day in its basic form). One of the basic treatises is that British public (i.e. private) schooling for the upper classes is perfect training for (and perfectly compatible with) prison life. The prejudices, vanities, idiocies and random injustices of the privileged and pedigreed are shown up for sport and ridicule. Waugh knows his subject and fairly skewers it in great humor for the reader's enjoyment.
am 15. Mai 2009
"Decline and Fall" is British satire at its best. Set in the life of the British Upper Classes, this book makes light of its self importance. It is humorous both in its plot and its wording. Paul Pennyfeather, a Public school man (private school in U.S. terms) lives an improbable life and meets with a host of characters. As readers of my reviews know, the novel is not my main reading genre, but as I discover more novels like this my interest I might grow.
am 4. November 1999
Although this isn't Waugh's best (try DECLINE AND FALL or A HANDFUL OF DUST, or even the underappreciated THE ORDEAL OF GILBERT PINFOLD) it is still very good. A note: from one comment I'm guessing the horde of Calif. reveiewers were schoolkids reading this for an assignment, and aged around 15. Probably NOT the best audience for the book--they need to grow a little older and closer to death... The fact that some appreciated it is actually heartening.
am 3. November 1999
Why do you get the reviews for "Loved One" under "Decline and Fall? " Oh well, I thought that "Decline and Fall" was an extremely funny book, full of outrageous characters and events. I'm not giving it 5 stars because I have read better books. I found it hard to relate to the characters because they are so strange, but to like a book you don't have to relate to the characters. All in all I really enjoyed it.
am 23. April 2000
This is an under-read classic. The hapless hero, having been chucked out of university, lands in a barely respectable public school. What follows is an hilarious skewering of twentieth century society in microcosm. Sex, art, money, and, of course, class, figure prominently, with a sly nod at race, to boot. Never a dull moment.
am 16. Oktober 1998
This has to be one of the funniest novels ever written. For sheer laugh-power per page nothing else I've read comes close. I put Waugh in the same class with Cervantes, Fielding and Twain as a world-class humorist.
am 5. Dezember 1999
a little short, very irrelevant that sometimes its hard to find the context, but very funny as middle class man meets upper class eccentricity, good introduction to Waugh's feelings on the rigid English class system