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Put Out More Flags by Evelyn Waugh
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Put Out More Flags (1942)

by Evelyn Waugh

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8301310,896 (3.74)33
  1. 00
    Miss Bunting by Angela Thirkell (thorold)
    thorold: Quite apart from the appalling pun in Thirkell's title, it's pretty obvious that Waugh and Thirkell enjoyed each other's books. It's fun comparing their approaches to the wartime home-front situation.
  2. 00
    Unconditional Surrender by Evelyn Waugh (John_Vaughan)
  3. 00
    Officers and Gentlemen by Evelyn Waugh (John_Vaughan)
  4. 00
    Decline and Fall by Evelyn Waugh (John_Vaughan)
  5. 00
    Scoop by Evelyn Waugh (John_Vaughan)
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» See also 33 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
The general image of Britain at the beginning of the second World War is very different from the polite, quietly ridiculous society portrayed here. The story follows an aging rascal (Basil, who I came to hate), his aristocratic family, and his friend Ambrose, a flamboyantly gay writer. The talk is witty, the characters vivid, and the plot mostly serves to show how wrong all the experts where when it came time for war. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
Just as acerbic as Vile Bodies but less charming; just as morally outraged as Sword of Honour but with less pathos; Put Out More Flags falls uncomfortably between two stools. It bruises its rump, and retreats into an air of umbrage that undermines the humour, frequently. It's an appropriate document of the "phony war" in that sense, embodying-not-just-depicting a lot of the pettiness and irrelevance of an interwar Britain that hadn't yet cottoned on to the fact that the war was no longer "inter." And as a result it's cool in the last pages how all of that falls away (goodbye, all that!) as everyone starts to catch up and understand that they've entered a time to try their souls. A purification, but one with ironic bite when you know about Waugh's own history in the war--this book was written in 1942, after a couple of bungled attempts on his part to nobly give his all to make the world safe for patrician constitutional toffness, but when the victory still hung in the balance and he still had hopes of reaching his apotheosis. There would be more bungles, and a deeper disillusionment devastatingly chronicled in Sword of Honour, which makes this book seem small--a blinkered smallness mistaking itself for realism, the Chamberlain to Sword of Honour's (cos albeit the man was a warmonger and war criminal, a racist and a glutton, and we reject big man history and find the Allied win in the overwhelming industrial economics of the thing, he was still in some wise a titan) Churchill. ( )
1 vote MeditationesMartini | Dec 7, 2015 |
Evelyn Waugh's look at the first year of Britain's involvement in WW2 revolves around Basil Seal. Seal and his friends & family are typical Waugh characters and his depiction of the Ministry of Information was hilarious! It is an interesting look at how many Brits felt at the beginning of the war, an attitude easily forgotten in the events that followed ( )
  leslie.98 | Jun 23, 2014 |
I recently read, and very much enjoyed Sword of Honour, like this book, Sword of Honour is a satirical novel about the Second World War.

The books that comprise the Sword of Honour trilogy were written in the 1950s and 1960s when Evelyn Waugh was able to put the Second World War into some kind of perspective. Sword of Honour also happens to be one of Evelyn Waugh's masterpieces.

Put Out More Flags, an earlier war novel, opens in the autumn of 1939 and all takes place during the twelve months of the war. It was published in 1942.

I have read most of Evelyn Waugh's major works now, and, as usual, the quality of the writing is a pleasure. The story follows the wartime activities of characters introduced in Waugh's earlier satirical novels Decline and Fall, Vile Bodies and Black Mischief.

The uncertainty and confusion of the so-called "phoney war" are brilliantly evoked, and - as is so often the case - the satire and humour are very black. Basil Seal, who readers may recall from Black Mischief, is the star of the show. His opportunism creating all manner of mischief for those he runs into, and his scam involving a troublesome family of evacuated children sums him up perfectly. To suggest this book is full of humour would be misleading: one scene involving the troubled and tragic Cedric Lyne visiting his estranged wife Angela, with their son Nigel, for once impressed by him in his army uniform, is absolutely dripping with sadness and melancholy, and demonstrates Waugh's extraordinary skill.

Overall the book felt slightly uneven and a bit rushed. There is much to admire and enjoy, however I conclude this is one of Evelyn Waugh's less successful novels (against his exceptionally high standards). It's of most interest to Waugh completists (of whom I am definitely one) and should not be prioritised ahead of his key works: (Brideshead Revisited, Sword of Honour, Decline and Fall, and A Handful of Dust. ( )
  nigeyb | Mar 8, 2014 |
Very good on lots of levels. Many stories at the same time. ( )
  njcur | Feb 13, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
For my money, Waugh is the greatest stylistic craftsman of the 20th century. Tone-deaf to music, he was pitch-perfect when it came to the music of the English language. I love the limpidness of his writing, its shocking clarity. Put Out More Flags is as tightly constructed — point and counterpoint — as a baroque fugue.
 
[Put Out More Flags} is the best record I have read of England in the first year of the Second War. In it, at the very height of his powers, Waugh somehow fuses the savage, deadly comedy of his earlier books with the ominous seriousness of his later ones. . . . If I'm not mistaken, Put Out More Flags is the greatest of Evelyn Waugh's great novels. As such, it deserves to be revived and reread as long as we read English
 

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Evelyn Waughprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Maloney, MichaelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
A man getting drunk at a farewell party should strike a musical tone, in order to strengthen his spirit . . . and a drunk military man should order gallons and put out more flags in order to increase his military splendour.

--Chinese Sage, quoted and translated by Lin Yutang in The Importance of Living.

A little injustice in the heart can be drowned by wine; but a great injustice in the world can be drowned only by the sword.

--Epigrams of Chang Ch'ao; quoted and translated by Lin Yutang in The Importance of Living.
Dedication
To Randolph Churchill
First words
In the week which preceded the outbreak of the Second World War -- days of surmise and apprehension which cannot, without irony, be called the last days of "peace" -- and on the Sunday morning when all doubts were finally resolved and misconceptions corrected, three rich women thought first and mainly of Basil Seal.
Quotations
[Spoken by Ambrose Silk:]
"To the Chinese scholar the military hero was the lowest of human types, the subject for ribaldry. We must return to Chinese scholarship."

[Thought by Cedric Lyne:]
The great weapons of modern war did not count in single lives; it took a whole section to make a target worth a burst of machine-gun fire; a platoon or a motor lorry to be worth a bomb. No one had anything against the individual; as long as he was alone he was free and safe; there's danger in numbers; divided we stand, united we fall, thought Cedric, striding happily towards the enemy, shaking from his boots all the frustration of corporate life. He did not know it but he was thinking exactly what Ambrose had thought when he announced that culture must cease to be conventual and become coenobitic.
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Based on Evelyn Waugh's own time as a soldier, this novel is a painfully funny satire on the military establishment.

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