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Black Mischief by Evelyn Waugh
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Black Mischief (1932)

by Evelyn Waugh

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863None10,308 (3.76)49
  1. 00
    The Coup by John Updike (pechmerle)
    pechmerle: Another satire, 30 years later than Waugh's, on post-colonial Africa. An amusing contrast of tradition vs. world-wide popular culture.
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» See also 49 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
Not as entertaining as Decline and Fall or Vile Bodies and also a little racist. ( )
  Ben_Poland | Jan 25, 2014 |
I'm a bit torn on this book, not sure what to think of the racial issues, whether he was really writing so negatively about the Africans or not. In either case, he was satirizing the British (and other European) upper class without doubt, far more so, and did it rather amusingly. I laughed a fair bit reading the absurdities going on in this novel, and it definitely made me want to read more Waugh. ( )
  PolymathicMonkey | Nov 2, 2013 |
This book is not considered politically correct these days, because of the way the African population of the fictional nation of Azania is portrayed. In fact, they get off pretty lightly compared to the Europeans. Waugh is superb when he is satirizing the upper classes, as with the British legation in Black Mischief.
Not for the first time with Waugh, I found the ending a bit disappointing. However, that is easily made up for by the many laughs this book served up along the way. Very, very funny. ( )
  augustusgump | Sep 15, 2013 |
This simply was not as funny as I wanted it to be. There are some great moments of hilarity as Waugh mocks just about everyone associated with a bloody transfer of power in an independent African nation off the coast of Somalia (actually, I had no idea there really is a large island there--it is called Socotra, not Azania, but it has a similar history of population by a combination of Portuguese, Arab, and British settlers). The new emperor, Seth, is British-educated and elects to modernize the island in ways that are both resisted and misunderstood by his subjects. His chief minister of modernization is a vapid member of the British aristocracy who seems to have drifted into Azanian politics mostly out of boredom and a desire to irritate his mother. Meanwhile, the British consul just wants to play with toy boats in his bubble bath and wire chess moves to his pal back home, both of which the French consul interprets as wily strategic moves in the Great Game.

If this all sounds like it's ripe for a great Waugh send-up, that's what I thought, too. Unfortunately, as others here have noted, the book is actually a little boring. (There is also the racial, some might say racist, element, but I am not really offended by this, since I see the book as a cultural document of its time and attitudes.) The real offense here is that this is simply a minor book by a master, and I expected too much of it. Even the great literary geniuses can't hit a home run every time. ( )
1 vote sansmerci | Jun 19, 2013 |
A simply uproarious book. There are things at which Waugh is tops. For humor, I'll take Waugh. Nearly drove my roommates, Fred and Jerry, to distraction laughing over it. ( )
  Schmerguls | May 14, 2013 |
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Mary and Dorothy Lygon
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We, Seth, Emperor of Azania, Chief of the Chiefs of Sakuyu, Lord of Wanda and Tyrant of the Seas, Bachelor of the Arts of Oxford University, being in this the twenty-fourth year of our life, summoned by the wisdom of Almighty God and the unanimous voice of our people to the throne of our ancestors, do hereby proclaim . . .
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316917338, Paperback)

Black Mischief, " Waugh's third novel, helped to establish his reputation as a master satirist. Set on the fictional African island of Azania, the novel chronicles the efforts of Emperor Seth, assisted by the Englishman Basil Seal, to modernize his kingdom. Profound hilarity ensues from the issuance of homemade currency, the staging of a "Birth Control Gala, " the rightful ruler's demise at his own rather long and tiring coronation ceremonies, and a good deal more mischief.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:31:34 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Bound by no politically correct rules, Evelyn Waugh's earthy satire lampoons all races, creeds and cultures in Black Mischief, a novel set in the fictitious land of Azania, an insect-infected swamp located somewhere in equatorial Africa. This ed. originally published: London: Chapman & Hall, 1962.… (more)

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