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The Sword of Honour Trilogy by Evelyn Waugh
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The Sword of Honour Trilogy (1952)

by Evelyn Waugh

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Sword of Honour (complete)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7821111,788 (4.13)52
  1. 00
    Any Human Heart by William Boyd (chrisharpe)
  2. 00
    Parade's End by Ford Madox Ford (thorold)
    thorold: Two rather different writers each identifying his particular war as the end of everything that was good and decent and Toryish about the England of his youth.
  3. 00
    The Balkan Trilogy by Olivia Manning (chrisharpe)
  4. 00
    Evelyn Waugh: A Biography by Christopher Sykes (John_Vaughan)
  5. 00
    A Dance to the Music of Time: Third Movement, Autumn by Anthony Powell (thorold)
    thorold: Evelyn Waugh's Sword of honour trilogy covers much the same ground as the 3rd quarter of A dance to the music of time, based on their authors' experiences as slightly elderly and very unmilitary junior officers during World War II.
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» See also 52 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
This trilogy spanning World War II, based in part on Evelyn Waugh's own experiences as an army officer, is the author's surpassing achievement as a novelist. Its central character is Guy Crouchback, head of an ancient but decayed Catholic family, who at first discovers new purpose in the challenge to defend Christian values against Nazi barbarism, but then gradually finds the complexities and cruelties of war overwhelming. Though often somber, Sword of Honor is also a brilliant comedy, peopled by the fantastic figures so familiar from Waugh's early satires. The deepest pleasures these novels afford come from observing a great satiric writer employ his gifts with extraordinary subtlety, delicacy, and human feeling, for purposes that are ultimately anything but satiric. Sword of Honor comprises the three acclaimed novels Men at Arms, Officers and Gentlemen, and Unconditional Surrender. ( )
  heritagebook | Dec 28, 2015 |
This is out in two formats: I read a version which wasn't divided into three novels, but you can also find the three novels of the trilogy separately. Not sure if there's any difference, but my copy is certainly one novel, and not three. Guy Crouchback goes to war as a member of the Halberdiers, a quasi-aristocratic regiment. He is trying to fight 'The Modern World in Arms,' but this is all complicated by the alliance with the USSR. As the book develops, the vision of aristocratic purity is broken down again and again. All the comedy (exploding toilets etc...) eventually adds up to a great gap and a great example of the vacuous happy ending which fails to cover up all the problems the book has created. This is a great read, and interesting too. ( )
  stillatim | Dec 29, 2013 |
Through Guy Crouchback, the detached observer and would be knight, who thought his private honour would be satisfied by war, Evelyn Waugh perfectly captures the bureaucracy, pettiness, absurdity, humour, and confusion of war. It all rings true with numerous little details that make this book so satisfying. It's everything that great literature should be - beautifully written, evocative. poignant, funny, tragic and profound.

I wonder how many of the great characters are also based on real people. I really want Jumbo Trotter, Apthorpe, Ludovic, Box-Bender, Trimmer Virginia, Peregrine, and - of course - Brigadier Ritchie-Hook to be real characters, as I do, the denizens of Bellamy's club.

In April 2013, I finally read Brideshead Revisited and was captivated from start to finish. You probably don't me to tell you it's a masterpiece. Before embarking on Sword of Honour, I would never have believed that Evelyn Waugh could have written two masterpieces. He has. Brideshead Revisited and Sword of Honour. That's in addition to all the other wonderful fiction and non-fiction.

Epic and extraordinary. You really should read Sword of Honour. A wonderful book. 5/5

NOTE ABOUT DIFFERENT EDITIONS:

Sword of Honour was originally published as three separate volumes Men At Arms (1952), Officers and Gentlemen (1955), and Unconditional Surrender 1961, however Waugh extensively revised these books to create a one-volume version "Sword of Honour" in 1965, and it is this version that Waugh wanted people to read.

The Penguin Classics version of "Sword of Honour", contains numerous informative and interesting footnotes and an introduction by Angus Calder, each time Waugh changed the text there was a note. Most of these are notes about sections that Waugh has removed with a view to ensuring that his "hero" Guy Crouchback is perceived as more worldly and experienced than was the case in the original version of the books. I can see why Waugh would choose to change the emphasis in this way and I think it makes the overall narrative more convincing and effective. ( )
  nigeyb | Dec 29, 2013 |
Of all Evelyn Waugh's novels, the Sword of Honour trilogy - Men at Arms, Officers & Gentlemen, and Unconditional Surrender - amused me the most. No doubt based on Waugh's personal experiences in WW2, he makes Guy Crouchback so human and fallible, and his fellow-soldiers with all their idiosyncrasies so very funny, I kept laughing out loud. ( )
  Ann_V_Roberts | Jun 25, 2013 |
Although some of Evelyn Waugh's other books (Brideshead Revisited, etc.) are better known, this trilogy is, in my opinion, his best work, and that's saying a lot since I consider Waugh one of the century's greatest writers. To use the word masterpiece, as others have done, is not to exaggerate.

Waugh's wit, his satire, his humanity, his moral center and his splendid characterizations and brilliant plotting are all used to wonderful effect here. The idiocy of war is revealed, as is the useless tragedy of it all. The protagonist, Crouchback, is both observer and pawn and it is his spiritual and emotional journey which propel the story. Many of the considerable cast of characters are grotesques and monsters of various kinds, but no less human for all of that, so great is Waugh's skill.

Above all, I think it is the author's ability to explore the most serious of questions with a light tough, one that keeps the reader rushing forward, that is the key to the works success. Not my first time reading it, and it won't be my last. ( )
  Laurenbdavis | Aug 22, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679431365, Hardcover)

(Book Jacket Status: Jacketed)

This trilogy of novels about World War II, largely based on his own experiences as an army officer, is the crowning achievement of Evelyn Waugh’s career. Its central character is Guy Crouchback, head of an ancient but decayed Catholic family, who at first discovers new purpose in the challenge to defend Christian values against Nazi barbarism, but then gradually finds the complexities and cruelties of war too much for him. Yet, though often somber, the Sword of Honour trilogy is also a brilliant comedy, peopled by the fantastic figures so familiar from Waugh’s early satires. The deepest pleasures these novels afford come from observing a great satiric writer employ his gifts with extraordinary subtlety, delicacy, and human feeling, for purposes that are ultimately anything but satiric.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:13 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"This trilogy of novels about World War II, largely based on his own experiences as an army officer, is the crowning achievement of Evelyn Waugh's career. Its central character is Guy Crouchback, head of an ancient but decayed Catholic family, who at first discovers new purpose in the challenge to defend Christian values against Nazi barbarism, but then gradually finds the complexities and cruelties of war too much for him" -- publisher website (August 2007).… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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