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Mad World : Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead - Paula Byrne

Mad World

Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead

Paperback

Published: 27th May 2010
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A terrifically engaging and original biography about one of England's greatest novelists, and the glamorous, eccentric, debauched and ultimately tragic family that provided him with the most significant friendships of his life and inspired his masterpiece, ‘Brideshead Revisited'.

Evelyn Waugh was already famous when ‘Brideshead Revisited' was published in 1945. Written at the height of the war, the novel was, he admitted, of no ‘immediate propaganda value'. Instead, it was the story of a household, a family and a journey of religious faith – an elegy, in many ways, for a vanishing world and a testimony to a family he had fallen in love with a decade earlier.

The Lygons of Madresfield were every bit as glamorous, eccentric and compelling as their counterparts in ‘Brideshead Revisited'. In this engrossing biography, Paula Byrne takes an innovative approach to her subject, setting out to capture Waugh through those friendships that mattered most to him. Far from the snobbish misanthropist of popular caricature, she uncovers a man as loving and complex as the family that inspired him – a family deeply traumatised when their father was revealed as a homosexual and forced to flee the country.

This brilliantly original biography unlocks for the first time the extent to which Waugh's great novel encoded and transformed his own experiences. In so doing, it illuminates the loves and obsessions that shaped his life, and brings us inevitably to a secret that dared not speak its name.

'Byrne's gift as a writer is her ability to combine scholarship with turbo-driven narrative power. "Mad World" is vibrant, absorbing, stranger than fiction' Sunday Times

'Paula Byrne has written a highly accomplished book about the family that came to inspire the Flytes of Brideshead ... a marvellous book, warm, witty, and enormously readable' Daily Telegraph

'Paula Byrne is the latest to explore the people and the story that inspired the book, and she does so with acuity and panache ... a lively introduction to Waugh and to Brideshead' Observer

`"Mad World" is full of fascinating anecdotes ... Paula Byrne has produced a strong and romantic book that is at once a touching story of deep friendships, an astute piece of literary criticism and an important contribution to the canon of Waugh biography" Alexander Waugh, Literary Review

'[A] gripping account of Evelyn Waugh's life' Philip Hoare

`vibrant, absorbing and stranger than fiction'
'Byrne's gift as a writer is her ability to combine scholarship with turbo-driven narrative power. "Mad World" is vibrant, absorbing, stranger than fiction' Sunday Times

'Paula Byrne has written a highly accomplished book about the family that came to inspire the Flytes of Brideshead ... a marvellous book, warm, witty, and enormously readable' Daily Telegraph

'Paula Byrne is the latest to explore the people and the story that inspired the book, and she does so with acuity and panache ... a lively introduction to Waugh and to Brideshead' Observer

`"Mad World" is full of fascinating anecdotes ... Paula Byrne has produced a strong and romantic book that is at once a touching story of deep friendships, an astute piece of literary criticism and an important contribution to the canon of Waugh biography" Alexander Waugh, Literary Review

'[A] gripping account of Evelyn Waugh's life' Philip Hoare

`vibrant, absorbing and stranger than fiction'
The Sunday Times

ISBN: 9780007243778
ISBN-10: 0007243774
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 384
Published: 27th May 2010
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 12.9 x 19.7  x 2.5
Weight (kg): 0.3