Evelyn Waugh’s “irresistible” first novel (New York Times) is a brilliant and hilarious satire of English school life in the 1920s.
Sent down from Oxford after a wild, drunken party, Paul Pennyfeather is oddly surprised to find himself qualifying for the position of schoolmaster at a boys’ private school in Wales. His colleagues are an assortment of misfits, rascals and fools, including Prendy (plagued by doubts) and Captain Grimes, who is always in the soup (or just plain drunk). Then Sports Day arrives, and with it the delectable Margot Beste-Chetwynde, floating on a scented breeze. As the farce unfolds in Evelyn Waugh’s dazzling debut as a novelist, the young run riot and no one is safe, least of all Paul.
"Irresistible....One of Waugh's best."—New York Times Book Review
"A savagely comic masterpiece."—Times Literary Supplement
"A world of anarchic fantasy, floodlit with a bland, devastating brilliance....Waugh's people were of two classes, both of whom he knew intimately: the giddy rich and adventurers of vast caddishness....The characters reeled their lunatic way, with sublime insouciance or sublime rascality, through a harlequinade ending in gruesome but hilarious calamity."—Charles J. Rolo, Atlantic Monthly
"Decline and Fall is that all-too-rare phenomenon, a good nonsense novel. Its author has had the happy inspiration to take nothing seriously, and least of all himself. The result is a book which makes more sense than most."—T.S. Matthews, The New Republic
"Surely one of the finest satirical novels of our time, in whcih uplift, religion, romance, and personal animus do not dissipate the satiric intention."—Ernest Jones, The Nation