Evelyn Waugh: A Handful of Dust

(1044 words)
  • Ian Littlewood (University of Sussex)

A Handful of Dust (1934) marks a turning point in Waugh's fiction. Harsher and more serious in intent than its predecessors, it looks towards the themes of the post-war novels. The book's hero, Tony Last, lives a life of dull but satisfying routine as the owner of Hetton Abbey, a large Victorian-Gothic house regarded by many as a monstrosity but loved by Tony himself. At the start of the novel, his friend Jock Grant-Menzies sums up the situation: “I often think Tony Last's one of the happiest men I know. He's got just enough money, loves the place, one son he's crazy about, devoted wife, not a worry in the world.” But fortune's wheel is about to turn. Tony's wife Brenda is in reality less devoted than Grant-Menzies …

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Littlewood, Ian. "A Handful of Dust". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 11 December 2002
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=7143, accessed 30 November 2015.]