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Vile Bodies

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  13,783 ratings  ·  970 reviews
The Bright Young Things of 1920s Mayfair, with their paradoxical mix of innocence and sophistication, exercise their inventive minds and vile bodies in every kind of capricious escapade, whether it is promiscuity, dancing, cocktail parties or sports cars. A vivid assortment of characters, among them the struggling writer Adam Fenwick-Symes and the glamorous, aristocratic N ...more
Paperback, 322 pages
Published November 30th 1977 by Back Bay Books (first published 1930)
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Ryu If I am not wrong, these people are based on a British aristocratic group known as the Bright Young Things or the Bright Young People. They did get up…moreIf I am not wrong, these people are based on a British aristocratic group known as the Bright Young Things or the Bright Young People. They did get up to some silly things and splurged a lot of money, but I don't know how similar they are as I have yet to read the book. You can read about them here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bright_...

Sebastian Flyte was also loosely based on one of them (Stephen Tennant). (less)

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Petra bf in 2 days but I have lost my nerve
Vile bodies, vile people, vile attitudes, only they could have named themselves 'bright young things'. Good book, Evelyn Waugh knows his own kind but also knows how to send them up. ...more
Steven Godin
Evelyn Waugh was in his mid-20s when he wrote Vile Bodies (1930), but he had already seen enough of the foibles of the ruling class to provide ammunition for a lifetime of storytelling. Although he hailed from a solidly middle class family, Waugh associated at Oxford with a circle known as the 'Hypocrites Club', and thereafter mingled with the rich and fatuous before marrying Evelyn Gardner, the daughter of a Lord and Lady. Waugh writes with a comical touch, precisely using the sort of character ...more
Jan 01, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Satire of British society, Vile Bodies, illustrates through literary vignettes, almost taking the aspect of humorous sketches, the puppet theatre that can represent the best-civilized humanity. The hotel lounge, social evenings, balls and receptions, newsroom, and motor racing are so many sets that the author uses to implement his humorous and burlesque prose. You will meet a prime minister unhappy in love, a bunch of young people on the page, a stupid young writer, a lady evangelist of high cal ...more

'Here's something terribly funny', she said, by way of making conversation. 'Shall I read it to you?'

"'Midnight Orgies at Nº 10." My dear, isn't that divine? Listen, "What must be the most extraordinary party of the little season took place in the small hours of this morning at Nº 10 Downing Street. At about 4 a.m. the policemen who are always posted outside the Prime Minister's residence were surprised to witness" - isn't this too amusing -- "the arrival of a fleet of taxis, from which emerged
Jul 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Unputdownable; both excitingly modern & original, a novel about manners & society and all that jazz.

I have seriously not read something this comical and smart and sad since (my all-time fave) “A Confederacy of Dunces.” The sharp dialogue is more than clever: it constructs a full little universe in which bright young creatures can party it up like there’s no tomorrow. Love everything about it: the tone, the pace, the interaction of so many personalities. Fantastic: I read all 321 pages in one si
2.5 stars
Waugh’s second novel is a rather bleak comic satire on the “Bright Young Things” of the 1920s. It is a witty series of anecdotes, often rather disjointed. The title is from the funeral service and the style mimics Eliot and modernism. The pace is breathless and there is a line in a Disney song which runs “busy going nowhere”. Indeed there is an inscription from Carroll at the beginning “it takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place”.
The plot is fairly thin. It revolves
Aug 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
Updated thoughts can be found here - http://youtu.be/msKfCg6fUzo

I just finished reading the gorgeous 1930 novel, Vile Bodies by the old genius of a boy, Evelyn Waugh.

I feel it's not too soon to admit to this already being one of my favorite books of all time. Just lovely in every way.

I'd already seen the hilarious 2003 film adaptation by my hero, Stephen Fry but I actually think I like the book even more.

So rich with wit and humor. so full of characters that one would love to share a bottle (or
Jul 26, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who needs a posh antidote to The Only Way is Essex
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list and the belief that Stephen Fry is a minor deity
"Ooooh what's that shiny thing, it's hurting my eyes."

"Sorry, that'd be me, I'm a bright young thing. Avert your eyes lest they be burned from their sockets."

"Wow, so what is a bright young thing then? Forgive my ignorance but I'm just not that cultured."

"Don't worry, its an easy premise to grasp - here, let me explain... we bright young things are an erudite group of social laaah-de-dahs who favour a bohemian life style. We like the finer things in life and indulge our love of drinking, dancing
Jack Edwards
Apr 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
A book in which every character is equally detestable. The 'Bright Young People' are superficial, snobbish, ostentatious and vulgar, and yet - much like the tabloids - you cannot look away. Such a pertinent read for todays age of digital influencers. I'd love to see a film made about this in a modern day setting. ...more
Vat of Vapid Rubbish Devolving into a Void

Each time I picked up this "novel," the question vexed me: how could it be that the same author who wrote the brilliant Brideshead Revisited also composed this doggerel volcano of vice and vileness, devoid of characters, dialogue and plot of any substance, value, or virtue?

This short novel comes across as either a manic pervert's puerile idea of high-brow humor, or a savant's crusade for the sake of literary sadism.

Ending this was much like slipping free
MJ Nicholls
The British Prime Minister, having successfully stripped away any amusement I might find in the tics and affectations of upper class ninnies, using his bumbling Terry-Thomas routine as a means to operate the most cynical and morally bankrupt regime in British history, responsible for a Covid snuff-rate in the tens of thousands, for fascistically vile policies against people fleeing wars and despots, and on and on and on (see: The News), meant I was primed to launch this classic across the room i ...more
Dec 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“I can't bare you when you're not amusing.”
― Evelyn Waugh, Vile Bodies


"Fiat experimentum in corpore vili"
"Let the experiment be done upon a worthless body"

Set in the 20s and published in 1930, Waugh's sophmore novel (after 1928's Decline and Fall) follows Adam Fenwick-Symes the anti-hero journalist/writer as he lightly persues his fortune, his fiance, and his career among an ever declining group that mirrors London's bohemian "Bright Young Things" of the 20s. According to Waugh himself, "T
Dec 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Vile Bodies was the only major novel by Evelyn Waugh I had yet to read, so I was very happy to finally put that right.

Vile Bodies captures the world of the "Bright Young Things", a privileged and wealthy elite in the 1920s, and their associated misspent youth, self indulgence, anarchic behaviour, and easy attitudes to sex and drugs. In the late 1920s and early 1930s, the Bright Young Things's were a staple of newspaper gossip columns, who seized upon their adventures and reported them with a mi
Nov 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“What a lot of parties!”

Published in 1930, this is Evelyn Waugh’s second novel, following the comic, “Decline and Fall.” Although this has some of the same humour, it becomes considerably darker in parts, which possibly mirrors the fact that Waugh’s first marriage (‘He-Evelyn’ and ‘She-Evelyn’) was falling apart during the writing of this.

The main character is Adam Fenwick-Symes, who returns to England on a ship, aboard many of the other characters who feature in the novel. For this is about th
Mar 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, 2014, uk
Very interesting and a different world to today. So much scandal and great characters.
I felt it was slow at parts. Some characters i loved and some i really didnt.
Everyone just seemed like upper class socicalite rebels.

I heard a quote that i found matched what I thought of the book:
"Vile Bodies, Vile People, Vile Attitudes"
Aug 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviews, modernism
Reading Evelyn Waugh is like watching an elaborate, adult cartoon. His writing is beyond the usual satire, black humour, cynicism and all other attributes it was gratified with. Its extraordinary visual quality is supported by few epic features, and it is called a novel only in the absence of a better term, as justly observed Alan Dale in his review on Blogcritics. Therefore, if you look for a cleverly deployed plot, strong characters and coherent actions, or balanced oppositions and moral battl ...more
An odd, fun read, more broadly humorous than I expected. Set among the out of control bright young things of London who are quite crazily sent up by Waugh, Vile Bodies is enjoyable and crazy yet also shows some of the pathos of the time lurking in the background. I think I prefer Waugh's more subtle work but would have to read more to be sure.

Then there are some great passages that I really did love such as the following.

The truth is that motor cars offer a very happy
illustration of the metaph
Jun 26, 2012 rated it it was amazing
"Our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the saviour...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."
Philipians 3:17-21

This book, the best-titled book by one of literature's great titlers, snuck up on me. It's really fun and quick to read - satirical and absurdist - and suddenly toward the end I started to think that maybe it's not a little but quite a b
Apr 07, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: humor, 1930s
"Who's that awful looking woman?"
"She's no one. Mrs. Panrast she's called now."
"She seems to know you."
"Yes. I've known her all my life. As a matter of fact, she's my mother."
"My dear, how too shaming."

If you’ve got a taste for Ronald Firbank’s prose and you enjoy seeing Thomas Hardy getting skewered, I think you’ll gleefully sink your teeth into Waugh’s Vile Bodies (1930). The book’s a nice slab of satire that hasn’t lost its humor, though now its bite may resemble more a vicious gumming than a
This is the second book I've read by Evelyn Waugh. The first book I read was The Loved One which I thought was fabulous, a five star read all the way. With this book he was attempting to be humorous and for me it fell flat. Don't get me wrong, there were some really cute parts but having just read The Loved One, I was expecting more. 😕 ...more
May 03, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: funny, clever, satire
First impression? Hilarious. Total spot-on satire of 1930s, pseudo/wannabe posh society in Britain - and I can say that with such confidence because I was there and all. Well, no, not quite, not by about 53 years and an ocean, but I do live in New York, where desperate social climbers - the "see and be seen-ers" - and tacky people with a bit of money proliferate against my wishes.

The difference is that somewhere along the road, we stopped satirizing these people and took to glorifying them inst
May 30, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humour, classics
Stephen Fry filmed it under the title Bright Young Things. Implausible aristos and hangers on, and often written in brief banal sentences that are more reminiscent of Janet and John reading primers than good literature and perhaps shows how shallow and ephemeral these people were. Nevertheless, very readable.

Nov 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 Stars

First published in 1930, Vile Bodies was Evelyn Waugh’s second novel, a wickedly funny satire about the farcical escapades of London’s Bright Young People from the high society set. I enjoyed it a lot – much more than Waugh’s debut, Decline and Fall, which I liked in parts but not as a whole. Interestingly, Vile Bodies was more successful than D&F on its release, catching the attention of both the critics and the public alike. It’s a very good book, one that captures the uncertainties a
A comic satire chronicling the lives of the young Bohemian aristocrats and socialites in 1920s London who were known as the Bright Young Things or the Bright Young People. To this “lost generation” crowd, of which Waugh was a part, everything that wasn’t “amusing” or “divine” was “bogus” or “boring.” I couldn’t help thinking how these self-absorbed folks would be right at home in the age of social media:

The Bright Young People sparkle so
Their lives are all a-glitter
But how much brighter still th
Masked parties, Savage parties, Victorian parties, Greek parties, Wild West parties, Russian parties, Circus parties, parties where one had to dress as somebody else, almost naked parties in St John’s wood, parties in flats and studios and houses and ships and hotels and night clubs, in windmills and swimming-baths, tea parties at school where one ate muffins and meringues and tinned crab, parties at Oxford where one drank brown sherry and smoked Turkish cigarettes, dull dances in London and
Nov 05, 2010 rated it it was ok
I often wonder about book blurbs, because really how many times can you describe a book with the words funny and hilarious and have the book actually be funny and hilarious. My edition of this book has a blurb by the New York Time's that says "It may shock you, but it will make you laugh". Well New York Times, let's see the tally shall we: times I was shocked by this book = zero; times I laughed = maybe two and a half, but it wasn't a hearty laugh, it was more of a sarcastic "Ha!" Now, a better ...more
Feb 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ah where are the bright young things today? Vile Bodies is a joy to read with some amusing characterisations. I was partial to Colonel Blount and his eccentric ways. Waugh seems to capture the media and stories perfectly. It’s not really a story but a series of incidents. None of the characters have real jobs and their is a theme of unhappiness while trying to be happy. Great weird names too.

Adam and Nina, Miles, Ginger and mad Agatha all hell bent on having a good time. Of course the story als

Oh my! There’s a Baroness Yoshiwara in this! I had to put down my spoon when I saw it. Yes, this book is so mild that it’s become my eating book. In a strange way it brings to mind Kimono by John Paris, a book from about the same era. with which (book, not era) I have a special bond. Okay, Vile Bodies is post-First World War, while Kimono ends with its characters going to fight in the war, but the atmosphere is so very similar!

It grew on me as I read – I thought it was all kinds of problematic,
Roger Pettit
Jul 03, 2014 rated it it was ok
I fear that, if 'Vile Bodies' is typical of his work, I shall have to add Evelyn Waugh to the list of critically acclaimed and popular writers whom I simply can't get to grips with. (EM Forster and Charles Dickens are already on that list.) 'Vile Bodies' is a dull and very disappointing book. First published in 1930 (when Waugh was in his late 20s), it's one of the author's earliest novels. I've not read any of Waugh's other work. I can but hope that his writing improved considerably after this. ...more
Apr 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Vile Bodies was Evelyn Waugh’s second novel, first published in 1930 it is dedicated to Bryan and Diana Guinness –the sister and brother-in-law of Nancy Mitford, Diana of course later becoming the infamous Diana Moseley.
"Ooooh what's that shiny thing, it's hurting my eyes."

"Sorry, that'd be me, I'm a bright young thing. Avert your eyes lest they be burned from their sockets."

"Wow, so what is a bright young thing then? Forgive my ignorance but I'm just not that cultured."
Vile Bodies is a wonderf
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Evelyn Waugh's father Arthur was a noted editor and publisher. His only sibling Alec also became a writer of note. In fact, his book “The Loom of Youth” (1917) a novel about his old boarding school Sherborne caused Evelyn to be expelled from there and placed at Lancing College. He said of his time there, “…the whole of English education when I was brought up was to produce prose writers; it was al ...more

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