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اثر اولین وو از انتشارات پیام امروز - مترجم: ابراهیم یونسی-دهه 1930 میلادی

ارسال شده توسط ایران کتاب در تاریخ یکشنبه 21 آبان 1396
Laced with cynicism and truth, A Handful of Dust satirizes a certain stratum of English life where all the characters have money, but lack practically every other credential. Murderously urbane, it depicts the breakup of a marriage in the London gentry, where the errant wife suffers from terminal boredom, and becomes enamoured of a social parasite and professional luncheon-goer. After seven years of marriage, the beautiful Lady Brenda Last has grown bored with life at Hetton Abbey, the Gothic mansion that is the pride and joy of her husband, Tony. She drifts into an affair with the shallow socialite John Beaver and forsakes Tony for the Belgravia set. In a novel that combines tragedy, comedy, and savage irony, Evelyn Waugh indelibly captures the irresponsible mood of the crazy and sterile generation between the wars.


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@I never thought it would last but she seems really keen on it . . . I suppose its a good plan . . . there wasnt much for her to do at Hetton. Of course she would rather die than admit it, but I believe she got a bit bored there sometimes. Ive been thinking it over and thats the conclusion I came to. Brenda must have been bored.@

@
Kristin Scott Thomas adds sizzle to the 1988 movie version as Brenda.

Tony and Brenda Last have been married for seven years and although they don’t have a fiery passionate relationship they have settled into a predictable, comfortable one. They live on the Last family country estate named Hetton Abbey, an ugly neo-gothic creation that would need to wait a few decades more before coming back into fashion. Tony is perfectly happy with the house, but Brenda is subtly, or maybe not so subtly, convincing him to make changes. Plans are made to slowly convert the interior to a more modern appearance and also add some much needed bathrooms to the house.

They have one son who is mostly just a source of annoyance to them. He is precocious and starved for attention, and is often shuffled off to the horse trainer or to the housekeeper to keep him from under the feet of his parents.

They are moderately rich, but feel pinched for money as most of it is being funneled back into Hetton Abbey. Entertainment, as most of us know when we hit a financial snag, is the first and easiest to cut back on. This does create childish resentments in Brenda towards Tony and towards the house, even though, she is the one that is insisting on the remodel. After all she doesn’t even like that ugly old house anyway.

Overall, though, despite the snag in their social life things are going rather well

Until…

John Beaver invites himself down to Hetton Abbey for the weekend. He is a social parasite who lives off the family associations. He was reasonably desperate for some one to sponge off or he would have never ventured out to the country to spend time with the Last family.

”Beaver was so seldom wholly welcome anywhere that he was not sensitive to the slight constraint of his reception.”

He is oblivious, completely oblivious to any irritation his hosts might feel at his presence. He is relying on the unshakable, ancestral sense of decorum that people have for guests, even uninvited ones.

@
The ever so clever Evelyn Waugh.

Beaver is not a dashing figure nor is he all that charming. He is mostly just a young lad more boy than man. He is surprised at Brenda’s interest in him. She has been out of London society for a while and seems to have lost all her bearings for what she should find attractive in a man. Beaver really has nothing to offer except youth.

She ends up leasing a small apartment in London from Beaver’s rather disreputable real estate mogul mother. Brenda begins to instruct Beaver in an attempt to mold him into a more respectful version of a man she should be seen with. This starts to create some friction with young Beaver.

”You are one for making people learn things.”

Beaver goes along as she is paying for most of their expenses as they start appearing in society together.

Brenda tells Tony she is taking economic classes. Tony does the best he can to believe her.

Beaver as far as society is concerned is just a family friend. It is so nice of him to escort her around town. The rest...well...that is all hush hush.

”That’s always the trouble with people when they start walking out. They either think no one knows, or everybody.”

It has been way too long since I’ve read Evelyn Waugh. This may be one of his bleakest novels, but also the one most rife with wonderful biting sarcasm that exposes the self-absorption of the English upper class and the disregard they have for any retributions for their actions. When tragedy strikes the Last family the understated, cold reactions of both Tony and Brenda are so selfish it reveals their truest nature. I felt sorry for Tony for most of the novel because the decisions that Brenda was making were so destructive and based on such an absurd set of reasoning that it all just seemed so unfair. My feelings for Tony changed and by the end it felt like each got what they deserved. Both are so naive and though raised in this upper crust, seemingly conservative society, they seem to know very little about how to conduct themselves in such a rigid system of socially judgmental families.

@
A Handful of Dust

A bleak story, filled with a flurry of witty daggers that I’m sure stuck between the ribs of many a reader in 1930s Britain, but at the same time the book is laugh out loud funny. The plot is a series of absurd situations in which the Lasts and their friends ignore the most sensible course and sail into the rocky reef completely oblivious to the fact that they will most likely lose the ship.

Certainly Waugh was pointing a few fingers and wagging his eyebrows at the upper classes. This is a superb balancing act of black humor and social commentary writing that is not only difficult to do well, but also entirely entertaining in the hands of Evelyn Waugh.

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مشاهده لینک اصلی
I’m not generally a fan of satirical novels (as opposed to, say, satirical sketch comedy), but this book was terrific. Seldom have I seen tragedy and comedy so successfully intermingled.

Set between the wars in the chic upper-middle classes in and around London, A Handful Of Dust is full of horrible people doing horrible things to each other, but it adds up to a bitter indictment of human behaviour. And it’s not all jokes. There’s despair lurking beneath the brittle laughs, and sadness at the waste of potential. I believe it was partly inspired by Waugh’s wife of one year leaving him for one of their friends. I suppose it’s better to laugh at pain than cry…

Country gentleman Tony Last seems more attached to his ugly ancestral estate, Hetton Abbey, than he does to his bored and attractive wife, Brenda. So Brenda takes up with the dull and penniless social climber John Beaver, even going so far as to rent out a flat in London, telling Tony that she’s studying economics while she’s carrying on this affair that everyone knows about except her dim husband.

When tragedy strikes – I won’t spoil things by revealing the event and the astonishing reaction to it – Brenda insists on a divorce. This leads to a completely absurd scene in which the cold fish Tony attempts to get himself caught being unfaithful so Brenda can get one.

One section near the end, set in Brazil and completely inappropriate and wrong in its treatment of natives (there are many instances throughout of inappropriate remarks), at first seems absurd, but when bits of dialogue from the previous 200 pages crop up, you get to see how carefully Waugh has crafted the book. (And how memorable his dialogue has been.) There’s a plot point about reading Dickens that results in the darkest comedy, and perhaps a scathing statement about literature and civilization.

Waugh is simply a brilliant writer. I don’t think satire requires characters of much depth. But Waugh gives you enough details so you know everyone in this particular vanity fair. Their conversations are tart and suggestive, with people seldom saying what they’re thinking.

What’s remarkable is that beneath the exaggeration, there’s a brutal examination of the horrible things people are capable of doing – to themselves and each other.

In one of the silliest scenes, two adults play a childrens card game where theyre reduced to making animal noises. Its played for laughs, but Waugh knew what he was doing. Oink oink, cluck cluck cluck indeed.

مشاهده لینک اصلی
For those of you who live cloistered in a medieval turret of moral purity and use the interwebs only for researching your medical ailments (and, oh -- of course, researching books as well), you may or may not be interested to know that there is a cuckolding porn genre. The interesting detail about this isnt that there is a particular subset of video pornography dealing with spouses cheating on each other -- because when you consider some of the very specific porn specialty niches (biracial paraplegic dwarves humping dead color-blind Basques, for example), cheating is one of the most banal and obvious. No, the truly interesting thing is that this genre often employs the word cuckold in its titles, as if this were five-cent, everyday, low-rent kinda word. At your leisure, please review some of these actual porn titles: Cum Eating Cuckolds 12, Cuckold Creampie 7, Grip and Cram Johnsons Cuckold MILFs, Non-Humiliation Cuckolding (Whats the point then?), Interracial Cuckold Surprise (Is it the interracialism or the cuckolding thats the surprise? Or the permutation of both?), Forced Bi Cuckolding, and The Taming of the Cuckold. You get the idea. Many or most of these types of films involve an individual having some variant of sexual relations with another individual (or individuals) while the first individuals partner, spouse, or significant other watches or is forced to watch. (I hope you all appreciate that I had to go to www.smutnetwork.com at work -- and against my better instincts -- to procure those authentic cuckolding titles for you.)

Again, I find it interesting that the porn industry should employ the word cuckold as opposed to merely cheating or cheaters, especially when one considers that porn video sleeves not infrequently contain misspellings of common words (I saw thier recently -- ahem -- when I was doing my investigative research). Theres something very Olde Englishy about the word cuckold even though it has French origins... and the kind of infidelity featured prominently in Evelyn Waughs A Handful of Dust is at least nearer to the associations I have with cuckoldry than a giant black man with a Texas-sized schlong anally penetrating a coked-out blonde bag of silicon while a skinny nebbish is tied to a windsor chair. But then again, the English language contains myriad subtleties, connotations, and associations, does it not?

In general, I dont find cuckolding stimulating. I find it sad. Not in the sense of two people in a relationship agreeing to fuck other people with the others knowledge (which is their own perogative, I suppose), but in the sense of a spouse or partner being kept in the dark, lied to, and possibly publicly humiliated by his/her soulmate. So thats what makes Evelyn Waughs A Handful of Dust a particularly bitter satirical pill to swallow. The main character Tony Last is a cuckold. Waugh provides us with absolutely no evidence that he is anything but a kind, compassionate, and attentive husband. His wife Brenda rather glibly and carelessly carries on with an undesirable man named John Beaver, who is not particularly kind, interesting, or attractive. In fact, no one in Brendas circle of friends and acquaintances seems to understand why Brenda should slither around with Beaver behind Tonys back, and -- more to the point -- Brenda herself doesnt seem entirely able to pinpoint his appeal.

In constructing the first half or two-thirds of the novel along these lines, Waugh creates a very prickly, uncomfortable humor. We the readers are encouraged to be amused by Tonys humiliation and Brendas cavalier, indecipherable infidelity. Even while one laughs, one feels genuinely sorry for Tony. True to his legacy, Waugh manages some very funny, underlyingly bleak comic episodes; one involves Brenda trying to set up her husband with the wife of an Arab so that he wont bother her so much.

Around the midpoint of the novel, Waugh tosses in an exceptionally dark plot point (which I wont reveal here) which, in tune with the rest of the novel, is treated casually. Unsettlingly so. Then somewhere around two-thirds of the way in, the novel takes a strange, new course, which isnt completely successful -- but mostly successful, at any rate. Tony, it would seem, is so affronted by the protocol of the good society of England that he embarks upon a rather radical response to it. But as you might expect, Waugh isnt about to provide him with the respite he desires, and thats what makes Waugh (at his best) so brittle and yet enjoyable. He makes us feel various things at odd with each other. Humor and tragedy. Empathy and mockery. Dissatisfaction and complacency.

مشاهده لینک اصلی
Reading Waugh is like being air-kissed by a socialite who clutches your shoulder in mock affection with one hand while raising an ice-pick behind your back with the other. You know you should be on guard for certain disaster, but charisma sweeps you away in an intoxicating wave of champagne and caviar.

Waugh wrote with scathing irony of the plight of English gentry between the two world wars. Sinking into debt and irrelevancy in the wake of the Depression, these bored and bigoted hyphenated lords and ladies flit from ballroom to bedroom, trading partners and gossip as they scheme for invites to the best parties and positions in the right clubs.

The soullessness of these lives would be near impossible to bear if it werent for Waughs rapier language and his inclusion of the reader in the Grand Guignol. His satire is deadly (quite literally, in the context of the story, but I shant spoil the surprises) and oftentimes laugh-out-loud hilarious. David Sedaris and David Mamet owe heaps of inspiration to Waughs deadpan comedy and rapid-fire dialogue.

@Well, well, well,@ said Dan, @what next.@
@Do I get a drink?@ said Dans girl.
@Baby, you do, if I have to get it myself. Wont you two join us, or are we de trop?@
They went together into the glittering lounge.
@Im cold like hell,@ said Baby.
Dan had taken off his greatcoat and revealed a suit of smooth, purplish plus fours, and a silk shirt of a pattern Tony might have chosen for pyjamas. @Well soon warm you up,@ he said
@This place stinks of yids, @ said Baby.
@I always think thats the sign of good hotel, dont you?@ said Tony.
@Like hell,@ said Baby.

These people are so awful you cant look away. And Waugh is so brilliant you cant stop reading.


مشاهده لینک اصلی
You need a degree of sympathy for the authors intentions to enjoy reading their book, to tune in to their wave length. This was something I have never managed to do with Evelyn Waugh and his books remain for me whipped cream. I can eat them up but I get no nourishment from them.

Perhaps my appetite has been spoiled by the image of Waugh in his old age living a mock-aristocratic life, drinking too much, his wife - also an Evelyn - who had affection only for a discrete herd of pedigree cattle. His fictions seem pale intimations of the life he eventually managed to achieve for himself which makes the idea of viewing them as satires, or comedies or even tragedies as strange. Instead Im left with the suspicion that they are in part wish fulfilment (view spoiler)[which reminds me of the story of Thomas Hardy boasting to a male interlocutor that he had been impotent during his first marriage. The inventiveness of people in discovering new degrees of strangeness is unending (hide spoiler)].

Anyhow this was one of my A-level set texts back in the day. It features the lives of insufficiently wealthy upper class folk in-between the wars. Nowadays thanks to the National Trust and other wholesome organisations nobody with an inherited pile need struggle with repairs, although they may have to endure sans-colottes traipsing through the main entrance hall and then not spending enough in the gift shop before going home to watch fantasy dramas of how noble and good the owners of the manor houses were in the recent past as well as how grateful and demure our ancestors were for being allowed to empty their chamber pots or bring them piping hot water for their morning ablutions. Life in Britain can be little odd, perhaps it is a by-product of the mild inbreeding of island life (view spoiler)[ it therefore follows that the smaller the island the odder the people. Ive been to Sheppey in day-lit hours and there seems to me to be some merit to this theory (hide spoiler)].

I like the bow to The Waste Land and I am quite impressed at how the sweep of Elliots powerful vision of city workers crowding over the London bridges and the well peopled pubs is exchanged for minor provincial aristocrats and the dashed impertinence of getting divorced or not. I was thinking how the ending, which is an abrupt narrative turn giving us a real quest for a non-existent prize as a nod to the earlier allusion to the world of King Arthur and his questing knights, wasnt too bad which rather gives away, in case there was any doubt over the matter, my lack of understanding of the characters. On reflection being left alone among natives and subject to an illiterate half-caste is a pretty intolerable fate for a true blue Englishman particularly in the 1930s. Thank goodness hes got the Dickens for company...


مشاهده لینک اصلی
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