Evelyn Waugh: Black Mischief

(495 words)
  • Ian Littlewood (University of Sussex)

Published in 1932, Black Mischief tells the story of the fictional state of Azania – an island off the east coast of Africa. Its new ruler, the English educated Seth (“Chief of the Chiefs of Sakuyu, Lord of Wanda and Tyrant of the Seas, Bachelor of the Arts of Oxford University”), is determined to drag his empire into the modern age. To this end, he enlists the help of his Oxford acquaintance Basil Seal – a figure who recurs in Waugh's novels as an enterprising and immoral member of the 1920s smart set. The efforts of Seth and Basil, which include grandiose plans for constitutional reform, an array of hopelessly ambitious public works and a disastrous birth control pageant, founder on the inherent barbarism of …

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Littlewood, Ian. "Black Mischief". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 27 November 2002
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=6278, accessed 30 May 2015.]