EWWW! Vile Bodies

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Good Times

Thank-you to all for your insight and opinions. I have enjoyed and benefited from this project immensely. Here's to group projects that don't make us stand in front of the class! Good luck on your papers etc.
Cheers!
MIKE

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Thanks to All!

Hey Guys!
So I guess we are all done here, so I just wanted to thank you all. It's been great working with such intelligent people, but also people who don't mind my mindlessness, and spelling mistakes. Just a great group effort, and I think we did very well! Wish I had more classes to take with all of you, but I'm OUTTA HERE!
peace and prosperity!
SarahM

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Nostradamus.... I mean Waugh


Ok Guys, Post Post post all day long, Post post post while I sing this song!

After looking at the book and realizing that it really ends in probably what is World War two or another battle like it, I was totaly amazed! I mean, really I understand there were some unresolved issues in the world at the end of World War One, but COME ON! Predicting the next great war, it's unbelievable! I found this Nostradamus guy who also thinks he's really smart, but only because he's the most general horoscope artist ever. He predicted a World War Three in the 17th century that would occur in 2002. Thank GOD he was wrong! But I was just wondering what you guys thought of Waughs prediction? Do you think it genious? Or just plain lucky, or obvious?

Friday, December 02, 2005

Adam and Nina do LOVE eachother


After the intense discussion in class the other day I couldn't get the thought of Adam and Nina's funny little relationship out of my head. I have come to the conclusion that Nina and Adam really do love eachother, but the Vile nature of the social world they live in forces them to forget this love for other things.
The reason I say this is because at the end of the novel you have a lovely letter for Nina telling Adam what she is doing. This is only one christmas after her and Adam have stayed at her father's house, Adam posing as Ginger. There is a deep connection between Adam and Nina, but the vile nature of the lives they lead splits them apart.
Adam is always drinking and partyiing with Nina till wee hours of the morning. He doesn't have enough money for them to be maried, and is not a very stable guy. This "vile" life he leads makes him lose Nina. It may be argued that Adam shows no emotion over loosing Nina, but I think English stoacisim takes over and he represses these feelings. Waugh says, "It hurt Adam deeply to think about Nina" (pg 263). Taking this logic of stoacism, if it hurts, don't do it! So repressing his thougts of Nina, helps Adam continue on.
Does Nina love Adam? Most definately! She would not have Adam posing as her husband at her father's house. She may be unfaithful to her husband, but to me she isn't unfaithful to her heart (extra cheese in there for you guys!)! Nina tells Adam that she needs stability saying " If only you were as rish as Ginger, Adam, or only half as rich. Or if only you had any money at all." (271) This does not say that Nina no longer loves Adam, it simply states that she is marrying for money. This is again because of the vile nature of thier society. Nina needs the stability to be invited to the parties and continue on with her fast paced life style!

Ok guys! Go at it!
Smath
PS- Kim! You ROCK!

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Drug Use?

The film Bright Young Things frequently shows the characters snorting cocaine, among other drug references. While I am not saying that narcotics are not present in the novel, I don't think that it is meant to be a significant issue. I cannot think of any direct references to drug use in Vile Bodies. While this could be a way to express the wild and decadent nature of the "Bright Young Things" to a modern audience, I am not entirely sure. Would cocaine use translate to a modern equivalent of their lifestyle?
I also want to address another slight change in the movie that, while completely unrelated to drug use, could have been altered to acheive a similar effect. In the novel, Simon Balcairn reports to his newspaper that Lady Metroland's party turned into a religious extravaganza, full of confessions, professions and drama. In the movie, however, he reports that the party turned into some vile sexual orgy, featuring incest and the naked elderly. I think that the outrage people showed at having been accused of religious fanaticism is a point deliberately made by Waugh about religion. Changing Balcairn's lie into ghastly sexuality changes the dynamic of the whole section and misses the point entirely.
Opinions?

Government Breakdown!


I believe that the representation of government in Vile Bodies is one of many depictions of a radically changed England. The first representation of government in the novel is the Customs officers. They are shown to be over-suspicious and somewhat power-mad. They even inquire after the angels' wings:
" 'Have you anything to declare?"
'Wings.'
'Have you wore them?'
'Sure.'
'That's all right, then.'
While the fact that the customs officer is satisfied only after learning that the wings have been worn by the angels is hilarious and absurd, it is a pretty dark depiction of authority. This dark depiction of authority continues with the confiscation of Adam's books and manuscript and the strip search of Agatha Runcible. All hilarious, yet somewhat frightening. Further examples of governmental instability are the investigators at Lottie Crump's place drinking champagne and canoodling with various socialites when they are supposed to be looking into a death; the character's ignorance as to who their Prime Minister actually is; the Drunken General (the main representation of military) and his drunken and unreliable nature; former Prime Minister Outrage's cluelessness and the hints we get pertaining to a possible dark and unseemly history. There are many others but I think that these are the main ones. With authority figures such as these it is no wonder why the "Bright Young People" are so vile, decadent and faithless.

MIKE

Monday, November 28, 2005

Bright Young Autos


One of the interesting themes of Vile Bodies that we haven’t yet discussed on our blog is the connection between travel and decadence. This is established early on during the boat crossing. I believe the correlation is drawn most explicitly on page 4: “to avert the terrors of sea-sickness they had indulged in every kind of civilized witchcraft, but they were lacking in faith”. They are willing to “indulge” in exotic, and no doubt costly, methods of avoiding the less appealing aspects of their actions. It is important, however, that what is truly lacking is “faith”. This is one of the dominant features of the “Bright Young People”; they lack faith. While they are willing and able to go to great lengths to avoid problems, they do not have any faith in their methods and they lack the faith necessary to face what they are avoiding.
The more significant correlation between the nature of the Bright Young People and travel is the motorcar. The motorcar is the perfect symbol of the society’s need for constant motion; motion of motion’s sake. Hence the Alice in Wonderland reference. This is beautifully expressed on page 227: “ . . . motor cars offer a very happy illustration of the metaphysical distinction between ‘being’ and ‘becoming’”. Vile Bodies is a novel about a generation that falls under the category “becoming”, the category of the
“real cars, that become masters of men; those vital creations of metal who exist solely for their own propulsion through space . . . These are in perpetual flux; a vortex of combining and disintegrating units; like the confluence of traffic at some spot where many roads meet, streams of mechanism come together, mingle and separate again”.
This description fits the society captured by Waugh in this novel exquisitely. Their parties are “like the confluence of traffic”.
This is just one of the many examples of the correlation between Waugh’s inter-war society and motor cars. I invite you to come up with a few of your own if you are so inclined. Also, here is a link to the official Daimler website (Daimler cars being referenced many times throughout the novel). The history section is the most interesting and most relevant part of the site.

MIKE

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Alcohol and Social Control....

I n response to you K. I believe that the limitations set on drinking after WWI was a result of social control that many believed was necessary. This is so because a majority of the population did believe the war was a punishment/cleansing for the sordid lifestyle that resulted from the influence of the French Fin-de-Siecle. The Edwardian lifestyle that is epitomized in Waugh's Vile Bodies and is the topic of all discourse that has taken place in class and in this blog, is the reason for the increased Franco-phobia of the time. Traditionalists felt that the war was the wrath of God for the hedonistic lifestyle that the general public were indulging in. This hedonism also lost all meaning in the novel with the non-chalant attitudes towards all things considered taboo in Victorian times, as we have seen a number of times in the novel.
I believe that Waugh was making a comment on this and the only direct yearning we see among the characters was always for a drink since all other indulgences somewhat lost all meaning: parties, money, sex; not to mention the lack of religiosity that seems to only emanate from Mrs. Ape whose Angels are anything but. Drinking seemed to be the only thing that kept its affect, that is once one sobered up they simply needed another drink to bring it all back. As many of us may also be aware of history has had a long struggle with intoxicating drinks long before the Edwardian era and perhaps this was the last straw, prohibition obviously did not work so the next best bet would be to control accessibility.
Going back to the war, we have already mentioned before how all our characters somewhat changed their personas once the war was full on from Adam to the "Sober Major" to Chastity even (especially the "sober General"). So, this is what Waugh was conveying (drinking being only a corner of the entire issue) that since the sordidness of Edwardian times lost all meaning it was time for a change, for the better perhaps, and this change meant control of all things considered "vile".

Does Waugh Have Roots in Futurism?


In regard to my untitled post, Mike asked if Waugh had roots in Futurism, and Caitlin expressed some confusion also, so I will try to clarify here, although I am as confused as any.

It would seem that Waugh, as with his shift from Agnosticism to Catholicism, shifted from futurist roots to a modernist (ish - forgive me) stance later in life. He was a man of shifting ideals, and an artist in a country in flux, so it is not surprising that his shifts from youth to middle-age were so vast (most of us drift right in political leanings as we age...Waugh drifted in artistic and religious movement). To understand Waugh's roots, I strongly advise we all read the article by Archie Loss entitled " Vile Bodies, Vorticism, and Italian Futurism.

In 1917, Waugh published an article entitled "In Defence of Cubism" and "in asserting the primacy of the artist's imagination, Waugh repeats one of the central tenets of Modern art. In citing the example of Nevinson, he chooses the English artist who, at the time, was most clearly associated with the Italian Futurist movement." In choosing to cite and admire Nevinson, Waugh shows his early sympathies for the Futurist movement.

In the early 20th century in England, Vorticism was founded, and though it only lasted a few years, it is a movement of major concern to Modern art (look this one up). Modern art at the time is considered by Loss to have been a blend of Futurism, Cubism and Vorticism. The Vorticists had their own magazine/journal called Blast which I also encourage you to look up - Nevinson was one of its major contributors. Ironically, the movement fell apart after the onset of the War - what is Waugh's attatchment to it? We call him a modern artist, and modern art is understood to have developed out of these three movements combined. He wrote to defend Cubist art, and cited supporters of Italian Futurists to do so.

Archie Loss also believes that Nevinson's work is well summed up by Marinetti's "Technical Manifesto of Futurist Painting" in 1910. - Is it not of interest to us that the artist Waugh uses to defend his beloved Cubism early in life, is described by others as falling into line with the very Futurist doctrine that Waugh critiques in Vile Bodies? - This is where my question "What caused Waugh to rebel against his artistic roots?"

In 1924, Waugh painted a cover, and did illustrations, for a publication called Oxford Broom (or The Broom, or Action/Harold Action's Broom). Loss argues that this painting shows clearly Waugh's Vorticist and Futurist sympathies. Probably to your surprise, Loss calls Vile Bodies "one of the best examples of Futurist and Vorticist principles in English prose, in spite of the fact that, by the time Waugh wrote the book, he was no longer sympathetic to such principles."

Loss, Archie. Journal of Modern Literature, Winter92, Vol. 18 Issue 1, p155, 10p; (AN 9408160268)
(Look it up in EBSCO - It comes in PDF full text)

I don't feel like going on to gloss the entire article here, but I encourage all to read it. It clearly illustrates the supposed link between Waugh and Futurism, and causes us to question, yet again, just what angle he is taking toward his writing...just what he is critiquing.

Hope that helped?
-K.

The Queen of Ruritania

As promised, here is my take on the wife of the King of Ruritania. She seems to be suffering from shell shock. The King's description of her neurosis (thinking that everyone is a bomb) seems to parallel the symptoms of shell shock. It is made quite clear, however, that the Queen of Ruritania was never exposed (directly) to violence and warfare. Therefore, assuming that the King of Ruritania is an allegory for the changes in post-war society, the Queen could be interpreted as representing the general public. Society, like the Ruritanian Queen, though removed from the battles of WWI, still experience some of the effects of it. Both the Queen and society have become shell shocked as a result of the mere existence of the war.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Drinking in Britain

Hello Folks,
Just wanted to let you know that as of tonight midnight the sale of alcohol will be permitted 24 hours a day in England. This is so because of binge drinking taking place before the pubs close which I believe is at 11pm. The law of pubs closing or is it alcohol sales prohibited after 11pm was instated after WWI. Obviously, you all can remember the all night driving that took place in the novel when the Bright Young People were looking for a drink at 3am only to end up at Miss Brown's house (the PM's daughter), like I mentioned before, it was all about who had an accessible liquor cabinet so late in the night that made up the social life of these people.
Ironically, many are rejecting this new law for the obvious fact that it will not stop binge drinking and may increase the instances of alcohol related violence that has risen in numbers over that past years which is also the same reasoning other officials have used to change the time of alcohol sales.
I heard it in the background on the news this morning while getting ready for school, so for further clarification watch Global news this evening as I will and anyone who finds out the fine details before I do feel free to blog it.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


In relation to art, yet again (please remember Waugh was an artist and writer both) I wanted to mention a few things. It is important for us to remember that the Futurist Manifesto was published in 1909, but that Vile Bodies did not find its way to Waugh's portfolio for many years. I ask the question - Why is this significant? Archie Loss did argue that Waugh was no longer sympathetic to his past ideals when he wrote the novel - if so, why would he even bother to reference the manifesto?...is he such a modernist that he is critiquing the very recent past and his own artistic roots? To critique one's own recently-past value system seems distinctly post-modern to me *grin*
Please allow me to propose to you that fascism and futurism became linked, and that for Waugh this was unacceptable. That being said, art from the Futurist movement was also included in Hitler's "degenerate art" displays....
I suppose the real question is - Why did Waugh rebel against his artistic roots, and how do we see this related/depicted in the novel?
Sorry about all the art talk - Sincerely, -K.

"Vile Bodies, Vorticism and Italian futurism."


Yet again I see fit to gloss pieces of an article on Waugh - this time I do so in order to illustrate the importance of art in his life, as well as to provide some notion as to how he thought it should reflect "real life".


"As late as 1929...he told an interviewer...'I hope I can bring back enough sketches to hold an exhibition in June and, if successful, abandon writing for painting,"


In his youth Waugh studied art rather than writing, and at 14 wrote an entire essay entitled "In Defence of Cubism" in which he "refutes the notion of art as an exact imitation of life. 'Art can, at the best of times, reproduce only an impression and we have to employ such

optical illusions as perspective by which to deceive the eye."

"In asserting the primacy of the artist's imagination, Waugh repeats one of the central tenets of modern art"

Archie Loss, author of the article, states that the one thing futurists, cubists and vorticists had in common, "was their frequently declared differences from artistic tradition." I am certain we can all agree that this notion bleeds over into literary art, allowing Waugh and, indeed, Woolf to assert themselves. In the magazine "Blast", Cubism, Futurism and Vorticism were blended together in a sort of artistic vision of past, present and furture...the manifesto for the group, regretfully lifted from Wikipedia, is as follows:
1. Beyond Action and Reaction we would establish ourselves.
2. We start from opposite statements of a chosen world. Set up violent structure of adolescent clearness between two extremes.
3. We discharge ourselves on both sides.
4. We fight first on one side, then on the other, but always for the SAME cause, which is neither side or both sides and ours.
5. Mercenaries were always the best troops.
6. We are primitive Mercenaries in the Modern World.
7. Our Cause is NO-MAN'S.
8. We set Humour at Humour's throat. Stir up Civil War among peaceful apes.
9. We only want Humour if it has fought like Tragedy.
10. We only want Tragedy if it can clench its side-muscles like hands on its belly, and bring to the surface a laugh like a bomb.
I think it is very clear how this art, or an art with this sort of manifesto might overlap with Waugh's work, or outlook on the world. - To add to this idea, I will post Marinetti's "Technical Manifesto of Futurist Painting" (as found in the article I will cite at the end of this post), and remember that it is Marinetti's futurist doctrine Waugh is supposedly fighting...what a paradox!
"The gesture which we would reproduce on canvas shall no longer be a fixed moment in universal dynamism. It shall be the dynamic sensation itself.
Indeed, all things move, all things run, all things are rabidly changing. A profile is never motionless before our eyes, but it constantly appears and disappears. On account of the persistency of an image upon the retina, moving objects constantly multiply themselves; their form changes like rpid vibrations in their mad career. Thus a running horse has not four legs, but twenty, and their movements are triangular."
Is any of this talk of art useful to us? I believe so. They say that these ideals influenced much of Waugh's visual art. I believe that the movements Waugh experienced were artistic ones, and that the space between modernist art and literature is not a great divide, but rather a membrane through which ideas are easily passed back and forth and back and forth...Archie Loss argues that the principles Waugh was exposed to in his early career continued to be reflected in his literary work, though he was "no longer sympathetic to such principles." I hope that makes sense to you...I'm so tired just now, on the cusp of some great thought, never quite to arrive.
Please find the article referred to through ebsco (it is a good one for us, and may well make it into my final essay) - Loss, Archie. Journal of Modern Literature, Winter92, Vol. 18 Issue 1, p155, 10p; (AN 9408160268)
-K.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Punch Tells All!


Punch magazine has long been a source for students of English Literature, History, Political Science and other disciplines, as a "way in" to the political and social histories of Great Britain and Europe. The cartoons were as telling as any article that may have appeared in any given paper during the life of Punch. Below I will post both the pre-amble Punch gives itself on its site, and a link to the site itself. -Note the inclusion of, my newly dear, PG Wodehouse-

"Punch, the magazine of humour and satire, ran from 1841 until its closure in 2002. A very British institution with an international reputation for its witty and irreverent take on the world, it published the work of some of the greatest comic writers (Thackeray, P G Wodehouse and P J O’Rourke among others) and gave us the cartoon as we know it today. Its political cartoons swayed governments while its social cartoons captured life in the 19th and 20th centuries. The world’s finest cartoonists appeared in Punch: such great names as Tenniel, E H Shepard, Fougasse, and Pont."

http://www.punch.co.uk


Well done all on picking up the blogging pace - Enjoy the cartoons - Hopefully this will be useful to some of you in your final papers. -K.



Chastity comes back....

I absolutely love Chastity's comment at the very end of the novel:
I dunno. I been caleld a lot of things. I was called Chasitity once. Then there was a lady at a party, and she sent me to Buenos Aires, and then wehn the war came she brought be back again, and I was with the soldiers trianing at Salisbury Plain. That was swell. They called me Bunny- I dno't know why. Then they sent me over here and I was with the Canadians, what they called me wasn't nice, and then they left me behind when they retreated and I took up with some foreigners. They were nice too, thoug they were fighting against the English. Then they ran waya, and the lorry I was in got stuck in the ditch, so I got in with some other foreigners who were on the same side as the English, and they were beasts, but I met an American doctor who had white hair, and he called me Emily because he said I reminded him of his daughter back hom, so he took me into Paris and we had a lovely week till he took up with antoher girl in a night club, so he left me behind in Paris when he went back to the front, and i hadn't no money and they made a fuss about my passport, so they called me numero mille soxiante dix huit, and they sent me and a lot of other girlst off to the East to be with the soldiers there. At least they would have done only the ship got blown up, so i was rescued and the French sent me up here in a train with some different girlst who were very unfrefined. Then iw as in a tin hut with the girls, and then yesterday they had friends and I was alone , so I went for a walk, and when I came back the hut was gone and the girlst were gone, and there didn't seem anyone anywhere until you came in your car, and now I don't rightly know where I am. My isn't war awful?
(pg 319-320)
I think this is the most definitive quote in the novel. This is because this young woman has lost her identity due to the terrible war in which she has been thrown into. I think this quote expemplifys the loss of identity and what a person is supposed to be doing because the large scale tragedy that occurs when World War One hits. Chastity loses all her identiy until at one point she becomes a number. She represents England and English soldiers because they lose their identity and become one of the many number of casualties in World War One. This quote gives a sense of the lost feeling most people felt after and during the war. Commments?
Smath

excerpt of an essay

Just thought I'd put down an excerpt from an online essay I found. Kind of an initeresting point of view. If you want to read the whole thing, it's at http://www.freeessays.cc/db/18/eft144.shtml . Here it is:
There is a sense of darkness and unclearness as one reads along, but have an element of ‘light’ that is present throughout. The ‘light’ in these novels are represented through characters. In Vile Bodies, the story is one of nothingness, meaninglessness. None of the characters have an objective reality, it’s all subjective. The reality is different to each character. There are concessions to nothing outside the self. Their lives are portrayed as wasted, as if there is no other purpose to them than to be part of a society that emphasizes the importance of money and social gatherings, in other words, a social satire. One source of light in this novel is Mrs. Ape and her angels. They serve as a religious element in a world that is existentialism at its’ best.

I thought this was interesting, after the light lecture given in regards to Jacob's Room. Just wondering if there are any other light referneces in the blog that you could find? More strangeness yet to come.

Again, a response that's much too long

Aliza! I totally 100% agree with you. People in this novel are way too detatched. It throws me off. The death of the girl in the hotel room, I think Mike mentioned this, really disturbed me. I mean, everyone just stood around, drinking champagne while a Judge is involved with the very suspicious death of a young girl. Even the police get involved with a 'cover-up' of sorts. Most disconcerting of all is that lack of shock and outrage that follows these events. The lack of emotion around the deaths of their friends also surprised me. When Adam is informing Nina about everything that happened to their compatriots it's like he's telling her about the weather. Her response echoes these sentiments, and the deaths of people who at the beginning are quite prominant and important to the advancements of the plot are disappointing, and even disturbing. Well, I'll leave it there for now. More strangeness yet to come.

Doubting Hall the Website!!!

Hi Guys,
Here is doubting hall the website. It includes a complete biography and works of mr. waugh. Very interesting and I love the website. Take a peak
Smath

Re: Sickness..."Vile" feelings and "Vile" acts...

It always affects me how indifferent and non-chalant the characters are in the novel, but that is also what makes the characters of the novel so intriguing at the same time. In keeping with being "vile" I got the same feeling, Sarah, with the morning after the "Charlie Chaplin" cheque (p. 107-111). In previous era's the whole situation of the "first time" has a little more to it than what Waugh provides. Like in "The General" for example when his wife says for him "to be gentle" and there is a somewhat renewed sense of relationship with the two after.
However, with Adam and Nina it has a completely different effect and Waugh, of course, maintains the new social mores of the Edwardian era. It is not such a big deal as had been in previous era's like in most Victorian novels where the woman is almost fearful of the act. The only feeling that remains the same is the fact that afterwards Nina claims that "...I never hated anything so much in my life... still as long as you enjoyed it that's something."(p. 110) This was such a comment unlike the Nina we have already become accustomed to with the whole 'don't worry we'll get married whenever' attitude. In fact, her reaction, especially in our Post 'birth of the Cosmopolitan magazine era can be quite angering to any female. That was the whole purpose of the magazine "that women have every right to enjoy it as much as men do..." But, I digress, my point was to say that pre-marital sex was considered vile as well to anyone who is not considered of the Edwardian period, like for example, the two older women conversing on the train in front of Adam when he is returning to Doubting Hall (p.192-195; The "Younger Generation")
I brought up the whole Cosmopolitan magazine because of an interview I read with the founder and her whole purpose of creating the magazine over the summer. If anyone wants any more info let me know... Happy blogging!

Vile Bodies Philippians 3:21


Hi Guys,
Here's the biblical passage that mentions Vile bodies. Very interesting.
Smath


Philippians 3:21
who will change the body of our humiliation to be conformed to the body of his glory, according to the working by which he is able even to subject all things to himself. (WEB)
who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, according to the working whereby he is able even to subject all things unto himself. (ASV)
By whom this poor body of ours will be changed into the image of the body of his glory, in the measure of the working by which he is able to put all things under himself. (BBE)
who shall transform our body of humiliation into conformity to his body of glory, according to the working of the power which he has even to subdue all things to himself. (DBY)
Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself. (KJV)
Who will change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like to his glorious body, according to the working by which he is able even to subdue all things to himself. (WBS)
who, in the exercise of the power which He has even to subject all things to Himself, will transform this body of our humiliation until it resembles His own glorious body. (WEY)
who shall transform the body of our humiliation to its becoming conformed to the body of his glory, according to the working of his power, even to subject to himself the all things

Funny characters

I'm going to discuss certain characters that I had forgotten, but that Mike brought back to my attention this morning. The short lived Prime Minister Brown (pages71-76) and the former King of Ruritania (pages 44-53). Both of these chracters are portrayed in an amusing way. Their fall from status is displayed for the reader in such a fashion that it becomes comical. The Prime Minister is seen placed in a situation in which he becomes the 'straight man' to Miss. Runcible's 'funny man'. Although the fact that James Brown loses his position and the respect of the people of England, the responses and reactions that both he and Miss. Runcible are what make this passage so comical. Through the ex-king, his attention to the minor details, such as the stolen pen (48) and his grand imagination, how he thought he'd spend a thousand pounds (53). Perhaps this just goes to show that people in this period, much as like today's society, found other people's misfortunes very amusing. More strangeness yet to come.

Response to Kim's Question

This is (loosely) a response to Kim's question("What, of the old and new orders, does Waugh critique?"). We have discussed in previous classes how the First World War lead to an unprecedented mixing and interaction between the classes. I believe that Waugh intentionally incorporates this into the novel. One example of this is the conglomeration of people that are gathered at Lottie Crump's place on page 44. There is a "Mr.What's-his-name" (no significant title to speak of), similarly "Mr. What-d'you-call-him", then "an American", a "judge", and the "ex-King of Ruritania". While Lottie Crump seems to still bear the older sentiments of value placed on title as she is said to have "a weak spot for royalty even when deposed". (44), the mix of people (one of them being the seemingly eternally penniless Adam) entertained at her place speaks to the new social strata made possible by the war. I believe that the King of Ruritania is, in fact, an allegory of this change. The fact that the man "got the boot after the war" is evidence of this. He was not deposed as a direct result of the war (ie: "after the war"), instead his removal is a result of the post-war change in society. The power of the King of Ruritania's title, (which is symbolized by the gold pen in my opinion) has been stolen by a "Liberal minister" (48), like his pen. Now he is left to the company of those like Lottie who still retain a measure of sentiment pertaining to title. Though it is now somewhat of a novelty. I also have something to say about the Queen of Ruritania, but I think I will do a separate blog for that. Yet another example of the new social order is "the eighth Earl of Balcairn, Viscount Erdinge, Baron Cairn of Balcairn, Red Knight of Lancaster, Count of the Holy Roman Empire and Chenonceaux Herald to the Duchy of Aquitaine" (61), aka Lord Balcairn. I have included his full title for the same reason that I believe Waugh included it; to drive home the point that Lord Balcairn is in possession of a significant (or formerly significant) title. This title, however, does not allow him access to society in the way it once would. As the circumstances of his suicide can attest to, a title such as Lord balcairn's, in Waugh's new society, means nothing. The new values of society (which are somewhat difficult to pin down, which is again a topic for a blog in itself) are so radically changed that Lord Balcairn, despite his impressively long title, takes his own life because he is ostracized.

It seems as though "Ruritania" is essentially an "every-nation". It is a generic sounding name frequently used for imaginary countries. One such imaginary country is a "Department of Political Science's interactive simulation for first year students". The "Ruritanian History" section has an interesting relevance to the novel as it features a deposed king.

Sickness in the Novel.


So after looking the novel over a second time, I was looking for references to being sick. I noticed that most references of being sick seem to be after a night of partying and drinking hard. When Adam calls Nina after the night they have out partying all night. She says to him, "I've got rather a pain" (pg 81) and he replies "My dear, if you knew what a pain I've got" (pg 81). The both are essentialy hung over and are hurting because the "fast paced" life they are living. The sickness I know referes to other parts of being vile, but I have definately found a correlation between drinking and sickness. I think we can all understand the regret the morning after a harsh drinking binge... Interesting how I somewhat sympathize, but am sick of the complaining. What do you guys think?
Peace out English Town.
Smath

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Further comment

Just thought I'd add a little to my thought on the war content. The comment on page 175 that I mentioned before was the sentence that made up the second half of the page, and finishing up on page 176. I thought this statement really gave the reader an idea of what Waugh's impression of the people of England during this period might have been, and it wasn't all that flattering. From what I've read it seems to me that Waugh paints a portrait of a flighty, self-indulging generation which not only feeds off of society, but also creates its own destruction. Wowza, loaded sentiment there. Don't know if this is right at all, just a thought. Let me know what you thought about this, and the twist at the end of the novel. It was a good'un. More strangeness yet to come.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Responses

Ok, this should be fairly brief. First, in response to the celb-erazzi, or whatever it is called, that Aliza mentioned in regards to the novel, the biggest shock I got was that although many of the gossip columnists were ostracized (again with the spelling thing), it seemed like everyone jumped at the chance to claim the job for their own. And secondly, in regards to Kim's question, I think a great indication of Waugh's feelings come through in the conversation I mentioned earlier on pages 183-185, specifically "[the younger generation] had a chance after the war that no generation has ever had. There was a whole civilization to be saved and remade-and all they seem to do is to play the fool." (Waugh, 183). Hope that this all makes sense, will post again soon. More strangeness yet to come.

Just a Little Bit of Germany???


I've just finished writing a paper on Germany - regarding the Bauhaus School of Architecture actually - and feel that some of the research I did there would be useful for us...Please bear with me here, as I try to draw some connections between Architecture, Literature, Germany and Britain?

"According to L. Hirschfeld-Mack, there are multiple reasons for the development of a new style, including scientific advance and religious and social changes, but that for Bauhaus the primary 'impulse was a great enthusiasm for a new or renewed world, a great faith in the future and a belief that mankind does progress.'"1
The above is a direct quotation from my paper (forgive me) which argues that the development for the modernist school of art called Bauhaus came out of a hope for the future. It is also implicit in L. Hirschfeld-Mack's work that without the event of the First World War, there would have been no Modernist movement. Do we not call Waugh's Vile Bodies a somewhat Modernist work? In what ways? If the upheaval in Germany gave way to a new Modernist school of architecture (one which would be persecuted for radical tendencies until its closure in 1933) what kind of Modernism did the same war give birth to in Britain? Can we not see in Waugh's novel a sense of confused values, and in that a critique of the loss of common morality? Do we not constantly question the particular moral priorities of our characters (Mike did mention the troubling, yet hilarious, serving of Champagne which accompanies the investigation of a death)?

Part of the Bauhuas Manifesto is as follows:

"Let us create a new guild of craftsmen, without the class distinctions that raise an arrogant barrier between craftsman and artist. Together let us conceive and create the new building of the future, which will embrace architecture and sculpture and painting in one unity and which will rise on e day toward from the hands of a million workers, like the crystal symbol of a new faith"2

Granted, the manifesto has clearly leftist principles at its heart, but it clearly illustrates the loss of past order, and the need of a new one, a new faith. It questions notions of class and community, suggesting that architecture and art can come to embody a new Germany, and through those works, Germany can come to embody those values. - To relate to Waugh, my questions are:


What, of the old and new orders, does Waugh critique?
Do you believe that modernist literature has/had the power the Bauhaus
manifesto credited to modern art?
-K.
1 L. Hirschfeld-Mack, The Bauhaus (Australia, 1964). 3.
2 Walter Gropius, in Neumann, ed., Bauhaus and Bauhaus People ( New York, 1993) 13.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Follow-up "Celeb-erazzi"

Sorry to milk this whole celebrity obsession thing but I am still waiting on the book info, until then check out this blog conveniently titled : Conversations about Famous People
http://conversationsfamouspeople.blogspot.com/2005/07/i-dont-think-i-really-want-to-talk.html
I did not look into it completely but it did emphasize the whole aspect of violation of privacy and the ultimate human past-time GOSSIP!
In fact all it does is give the opportunity to bash everyone and anyone who is considered famous...it is quite convenient that Ricky Martin is the celebrity of choice first. In any case, in keeping with the novel I can totally see Lottie being the administrator for this site.

Adam and Nina continued...

In response to everyone's comments on the "divine" relationship between the two I found it very annoying yet somehow confusing. Perhaps it is because marriage in the Edwardian era has not really been discussed to an extent in the class but the phone tag for the engagement and the reaction of either side left me wanting more...it seemed to me that this whole issue was more like scheduling a date to the great outdoors and it constantly cancelled because of rain. It was just a little too non-chalant for me. This may be beacause I am still in the typical Victorian genre of novels and was expecting Nina to burst into tears and lock herself up in her room only to come down with a fever out of despair that would bring her to the brink of death thus leaving Adam to sell his soul for the sake of her recovery which seems that the only cure is marriage (that was a mouthful). Anyone who has read Wilkie Collins' The Woman in White will understand the imminent death that lingers above the heads of the delicate woman of this era. Anyhow, it is great to be able to study the Edwardian era which I personally find to be socially groundbreaking yet ignored in post-secondary English courses which has focused on Medieval, Elizabethan, and Victorian eras for the most part. As I mentioned in my previous blog, I believe this era to be in direct relation with our present socialite/paprazzi/ and newly coined "celeb-erazzi" life.
(For those of you who may not know the term "celeb-erazzi" it refers to celeberities/socialites like Paris Hilton who really have nothing to offer to society except their name, yet get up in morning, get dressed and go out just to be caught on camera. There is a book recently published all about being a celebrity and living life on one side of the lens, the author is one who coined the term as soon as I find the link I will post it.)

Re: Oh The Hilarity....

Hello fellow 340 Bloggers,
Aliza, the missing link to this blogging menace, has finally arrived. So, to begin my intitial thoughts on the novel: In reference to K's comments on the naming of characters I too had to laugh and even had to re-read the introductions to all the characters in order to make sense of Waugh's compelling dry sense of humour.
Of course, this novel is our door to the socialite lifestyle of the Edwardian era, which in effect explains our present obsession of celebrity life i.e. Paris Hilton. At this point in the novel I found it quite intriguing that during this time it was not necessarily about who you knew but rather who had a room fully stocked with liquor at 3am that made up the social nightlife, (p. 69-71). I feel that now I have a complete understanding of the English Fin de Siecle.
Actually while reading I could not help but think of every Aaron Spelling show that was ever created from Beverly Hills 90210 to The O. C. (if he did create that one too). I think Vile Bodies is where he actually got his ideas from.
Socialite gossip too is very blunt having the reporters actual guests at certain parties who ask to use the guests phone in order to deliver front page news (p.70, 75) I believe we have also discovered unofficially the birth of the paparazzi as well. Let the Champagne flow!!!

War in the novel

A quick respoonse to Mike. I'm still torn. At times I find the characters quite amusing (the Colonel is a perfect example), but for the most part they tend to be very frustrating and even a little shallow. This is a perfect segway (I know I spelt it wrong, but I don't feel like looking up the correct spelling right now) to my topic of the day. Although I have yet finish the novel (less than a hundred pages left) I think I may be coming to grips with the question that was bothering me for the first hundred pages. What does this really have to do with the war? It seemed to be more a novel about partiers than about the effects. This however has changed. As I read, I have found a few passages that really struck me about the way and its effects. The first was on page 84 (ok, so it's a little before a hundred pages). The first real mention of the war that I can think of in the novel is two sentences about the selling of poppies and the two minutes of silence in honour of Armistice Day. It kinda struck me as odd that such an important statement was so easily brushed to the side. It was followed up on page 101 when Adam returns to London and noticing some people who "still wore their poppies" (pg 101). However, it is not until later that I found the effects of the war really coming through on pages 175 and in the converstation on 183-185. I shall comment more in depth on these later. That is all for now, I shall update later. More strangeness yet to come.

The usual citation stuff...Evelyn Waugh. Vile Bodies. you have the book.

Do we like the characters at all?

As I have stated in my response to Kim's observation about the humour in the play, I believe(d) that Waugh's brilliant use of humour not only draws the reader into the novel, but it also serves to provide the reader with a reason to like the characters. Now, however, I am beginning to have my doubts. As I re-read my response to Kim's post I began to realize that the humour allows me to enjoy the characters, but I still don't believe that I like them. I have tried to come up with some redeeming characteristics for each character and have found it quite difficult. So do you all like the characters? While I enjoy reading about them, the characters themselves are actually pretty horrible. Well, let the opinions fly!!!

MIKE

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Adam and so on and so forth

Hey Sarah, just thought I'd ask you if you like the character of Adam himself? I know I'm not as far as you into the novel yet, but so far I find him to be rather naive, and a little bit, well for lack of a better word, strange. In regards to the conversations between himself and Nina, I for one would have gotten so frustrated with him if he called me all the time to let me know whether our wedding is on or off. However, this could just be a reflection of the changes in our two different societies. Also, I find the character of Lottie Crump excesively humourous, and yet vexing at the same time. I have nothing further to add to this yet, but hope to see more of her as the novel progresses, and as such, I plan on talking about her more. Also, I'm not sure who it was that posted it (I think it was Kim...high five) but I agree on the point of the angels names. Deep stuff there. Way to play on words Waugh. You rock it. More strangeness yet to come.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Adam and Nina

I am finding the realtionship between Adam and Nina to be extremely clever. Most of thier conversations involve them calling each other to say that they will or will not get married the next day. The involvement of Nina's father adds another element of comedy. I aboslutley love this novel so far, but Nina and Adam's relationship is my favorite part. They are so funny about getting married, yes, no, then she says she marring someone else.( I just got to that part). Definatley Waugh uses this relationship to exemplify modernist style in that they defy real conventions of relationships. What did you guys think?
Sarah M
-ps so lonely here in blog land and no one here to help me!

Evelyn's Wikipedia Life!


So here is link to a quick biography on the man we are studying, who funnily enough I thought was a woman until I googled the name... Boy oh boy was I surprised that he was a man. Funny, how I thought it was characteristic female writing. I'm definately going to have to get my stereotyping in check! Ok guys enjoy!
SMath

Monday, November 14, 2005

In Support of In the Defiance of Long Novels.



There it is everyone, the abandoned, yet not forgotten, old blog. I think it is important that it be posted here, so here it will I post! Much luck to all upon our continuance of the project, and the impending end of semester.
Sincerely, -K.

Futurism, by Brooke Allen


Hi Guys,
I found this essay on Waugh's futurism, so I thought I would take a little snippit from it. The essay is called "Vile bodies: A futurist fantasy" and it is written by Brooke Allen. Twentieth Century Literature; Fall94, Vol. 40 Issue 3, p318,
Seems interesting let me know what you think!
Smath




Vile Bodies was not one of Waugh's own favorites among his novels; it was hurriedly written during a time of considerable emotional upheaval, and to it he devoted little of his accustomed care over structural solidity. But despite his own disclaimers, this "lapse" is not to be regretted, for Waugh packed Vile Bodies with more detailed raw material than he did his other books. Frederick Stopp points out that Waugh applies the very techniques of modern art in the construction of the novel: "Everywhere pastiche keeps raising its irrepressible head, as in the constant intrusions of the language of the gossip columns, the superbly bogus conversations between middle-class matrons in a train to Aylesbury, and the stream of technical commentary overheard in the pits at the motor-race. The whole produces a patchwork impression which conceals the cunning with which the pasteboard figures have been mounted" (73). This patchwork effect is expertly employed in order to achieve the effect of an impersonal narrative that is self-perpetuating, unauthored, as though Vile Bodies were a collage made up of jagged segments of contemporary magazines, newspapers, and conversation fragments. It is significant that Waugh wrote the novel at the height of his fascination with Hemingway, the writer he admired above all other moderns: the telephone conversations between Adam and Nina are, he later admitted, direct stylistic imitations of The Sun Also Rises.

Bright Young Things the Movie


http://iconmovies.co.uk/brightyoungthings/

Hey Guys,

Here's the link to the actual movie sight. Check it out. I'm going to finish the book before I watch the movie. Looks like a good one!!!! Anything that says sex, scandal, or celebrity can't be bad!

Smath

Modernism MY DEFINITION

Ok so here's a post for yall. I know Ogden kind of mentioned my definition in class, so here's my definition of Modernism, it's good because it's all inclusive!
Most academics have their own personal definition of modernism and after trying to find a universal definition, I have decided to make my own. Modernism to me is a bewildering topic because no one knows how to define it; therefore discussing it becomes all the more difficult. Modernism should include “avant-guard experimentism and its concern for radical innovation in artistic form, style, content, and method” (Poplawski ix). Modernism should be about the rejection of normal rules and conventions of preceding art and literature. Modernism rejects these rules and gives way to creativity, illusion, and interpretation which is up to the individual. Modernism definitely seems to deal with themes of “alienation, fragmentation, and loss of shared values and meanings” (Poplawski ix). Modernity in literature can be recognized by a sense of living “a period of great social, political, and cultural upheaval” (Poplawski ix). Modernist writings also are characterized by ambiguities, differing points of view, and ruthless time shifts. This all gives the reader a sense of disorientation, and confusion. As well, Freudian theory was very popular within modernist style because it discussed different levels of consciousness.
Peace out English Town
Smath