Sunday, September 04, 2005

Book: Sword of Honour Trilogy by Evelyn Waugh

Answers to SoH FAQ for Evelyn Waugh was a man; Waugh is pronounced War; Yes his work has been filmed.

These three books follow the military career of Guy Crouchback. A career that lasted the length of the second world war. It is suggested that it is semi-autobiographical.

AtSoHFAQ: semi-autobiographical is not the longest word in the English language; The Second World War happened 60 years ago and was a war bet... yes there are films about it.

This is not one concise story, rather a series of badly-organised events separated by long periods of waiting and convalescence. Life in the army is not all battles and heroism, it is mostly spent being transported to one place and then back again. The men are not perfect heroes, but ordinary, somewhat damaged men. In Guy's case, men hoping for the war to redeem his neglect of self, family and country. They do not spend their days chopping off the heads of foreign guards as souvenirs or single-handedly attacking enemy outposts. That is if you ignore Brigadier Ritchie-Hook, who represents the spirit of gung-ho and is down an arm and and eye as a consequence.

FAQ: gung-ho: US-adopted meaning: "(almost recklessly) eager", from Chinese meaning "work together".

The waiting and recovering are not fun for those involved, but with such shatp writing you don't share the boredom, but do get the expectation. And there are some wonderful set pieces, such as the battle of wills over the 'thunderbox' and the 'show' outpost assault. It has been said this was the finest novel to come out of the war. For portraying the madness, disorganisation and frustration with wit, warmth and pathos, they could be right.

FAQ: War, noun, related to werra, ultimately from Frankish/Germanic, related to Werra, Old High German for confusion. Thus "War on Terror" translates as "Confusion about Terror."

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