A Protracted Sneer

Coxe, Louis O.
November 1954
New Republic;11/8/54, Vol. 131 Issue 19, p20
This article presents information on the book "Tactical Exercise," by Evelyn Waugh. The characters in Waugh's novels are beset by the demon of the absurd; rarely wholly vicious, they are never credibly decent, nor do their fates have relevance to anything but the designs of the demon, who, in Waugh's eyes, seems to rule affairs as shabbily as a bureaucrat. The stories included in this book go along with the novels with due appropriateness. What bothers Waugh about the society of contemporary England is, quite frankly, the people. The brilliance of style is with these stories still, the power to make of a bald narrative something depressingly vivid, as in the title story, a spare idiom that hits unerringly on details that suggest the theme of ruin, waste and dispossession.


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