Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead
Harper Perennial, Paperback, 9780060881313, 367pp.
Publication Date: March 2011
Evelyn Waugh was already famous when Brideshead Revisited was published in 1945. The chronicle of a household, a family, and a journey of religious faithan elegy for a vanishing worldWaugh's masterwork was a tribute and testimony to a family he had fallen in love with a decade earlier. The Lygons of Madresfield were every bit as glamorous, eccentric, and fascinating as their fictional Brideshead counterparts, their story just as compelling, filled with secrets and betrayals, scandals and unwavering love.
Mad World is Paula Byrne's innovative and engrossing biography of Evelyn Waugh, recalling the loves and obsessions that shaped his world and his writing, capturing Waugh through the friendships that mattered most to him, and exploring how he encoded the defining experiences of his adult life in his greatest literary work.
“An utterly captivating and generous book with all the intimacy of a diary and the scholarly soundness of a fine biography…A singular accomplishment.”
“An engaging book…remarkably thorough…Deftly interweaving biographical details and textual analysis, Byrne makes the connections between Waugh’s art, Roman Catholic faith, and life dance.”
-Heller McAlpin, Christian Science Monitor
“Altogether excellent and wickedly entertaining…Scandalous detail enlivens every page of this delicious biography…Over the years I’ve read all the major biographies of Evelyn Waugh, and Byrne’s is…the fastest moving and the most fun.”
-Michael Dirda, Washington Post
“Well-researched and absorbing.”
“Remarkable…not only a meticulously researched biography but also an enjoyable read.”
“A considerable contribution to literary history…includes enough gossipy asides to intrigue readers.”
“A splendid new book…While displaying the research values of a scholar Byrne also manages to write with the panache and timing of a popular novelist.”
-Alexander Waugh, Daily Beast
“A sharp, entertaining literary biography…A perceptive study of how Evelyn Waugh emerged from middle-class beginnings to inhabit the tony corridors described in BRIDESHEAD REVISITED.”
“’Mad World’ is the perfect title for this sparkling book, a hybrid of family romance, incisive literary criticism, and deliciously hot gossip.”
-Martin Rubin, Washington Times