Evelyn Waugh: Vile Bodies

(2408 words)

Vile Bodies (1930) is a novel by Evelyn Waugh, set in the near future (the early 1930s). The action occurs mainly in England, though in the first chapter characters cross the English Channel in a ship, and the ironically entitled “Happy Ending” takes place on a battlefield in what seems to be France. Characters are generally realistic, but Vile Bodies is satirical, and Waugh emphasizes their knavery and folly. The effect is often comical, but the tone of the novel is ultimately sad, for the world of Vile Bodies is degraded and fallen, and the characters are incapable of improving it. The title comes from the Bible, Philippians 3:21 in the King James Version: Jesus Christ “shall change our vile body,…

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Wilson, John Howard. "Vile Bodies". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 21 June 2010
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=8624, accessed 02 July 2015.]