Terribly Bright: Characterizing the Body in Waugh's Vile Bodies

Open Access
Loose, Allison M
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Lisa Ruth Sternlieb, Thesis Supervisor
  • Xiaoye You, Honors Advisor
  • Evelyn Waugh
  • Vile Bodies
  • Decline and Fall
  • Bright Young People
  • London
  • 1920
  • Roaring Twenties
  • the Younger Generation
A far cry from the “war to end all wars,” the shocks and tremors of the Great War shook the foundations of the English heritage. Generational divides––exacerbated by the divisional powers of total war––widened into gulfs, as Waugh acknowledged the emergence of three separate classes: “There is (a) the wistful generation who grew up and formed their opinions before the War and were too old for military service; (b) the stunted and mutilated generation who fought; and (c) the younger generation” (Waugh, “The War and the Young Generation” 61- 62). This younger generation––the rabble-rousers and party-goers and gate-crashers––paraded noisily into the 1920s in a veritable triumph of modernity. From his unique “insider” position as an early Bright Young Thing, Evelyn Waugh condemned his fellow party-goers for their wanton lusts and misdirection. This lost generation became the target of his satire, lampooned as outlandish characters in the heat of moral decay.