[ Read Online Men at Arms ✓ woodwork PDF ] by Evelyn Waugh ↠´ Men at Arms 1952 by Evelyn Waugh is the first part of Waugh s Sword of Honour trilogy of books along with Officers and Gentlemen and Unconditional Surrender Men at Arms tells the story of Guy Crouchback and his endeavours to, in his way play his part, do his bit and get actively involved in World War II and The British Army.
Unfortunately, I struggled to engage with either the narrative or the main protagonist Men at Arms is a novel that reads, at least for the most part, as a somewhat uninspiring, pedestrian and underwhelming story of an over privileged member of upper class English society playing at war, playing with an honourable view of being a soldier, a member of The British Army trying to play his part and do his bit.
Eventually, Crouchback is commissioned into the fictional Royal Corp of Halberdiers, which seemingly operates in turn After having been somewhat underwhelmed with Waugh s Decline and Fall, I had modest expectations for Men at Arms, but I ended up really enjoying it, and anticipate reading the last two books of the Sword of Honour no omitting U s, please, we re British trilogy Full of dry and absurd humor, and infused with the gravity of World War II, the book follows in serial form the misadventures of our protagonist, Guy Crouchback, as he transitions from dreaming of playing solider to facing the daily mundanity and drudgery, interspersed with the occasional thrill, of life in the military Seems pretty quintessentially British imperialism, stiff upper lip, the whole bit I m tickled to be reading the same paperback copy that my mom had in college Hope I can pass down some books like this one day Entertaining, well written and engaging.
Part 1 of Sword of Honour.
What fun a bit like a cross between MASH, PG Wodehouse and Brideshead An upper class British Catholic divorc leaves his home in Italy at the start of WW2 to try to join the army, and eventually succeeds.
The story is populated by quirky characters and strange coincidences, with glimpses of poignancy Most of the characters are in a perpetual state of genial incomprehension and incompetence.
Waugh served in WW2 and if his experience was anything like what was described, it s amazing that we won However, there are clearly some parallels, as the book is peppered with mentions of specific dates and events helpfully explained in footnotes, in my edition.
Apthorpe s too literal thunderbox , the old colonel that should have retired but no one quite wants to tell him he s not needed any , bizarre and nonsensical bureaucracy, all beautifully written.
And best of all,
If you, like me, have been reared on tales of the second World War as the just and virtuous struggle of the greatest generation , Evelyn Waugh s arch novels based loosely on his own war experiences are an important and darkly enjoyable filling out of that two dimensional view The stakes here are still high But the inevitable absurdities and inhumanities of a huge bureaucracy trying to lurch itself into action is here too As the first novel of the Sword of Honor trilogy nears its climax, officers in the regiment are engaged in a life and death struggle for property rights over a portable Victorian chemical toilet while as Waugh notes several times through the book Far away, trains rolled to the east with their innocent cargo.
The best thing about finishing this book is knowing that, as the first in a trilogy, I can take the next two off my TBR and make room for other books.
While I didn t care terribly much for the character of Guy Crouchback, I found him a bit of a depressing bore, the book was saved by the antics of Apthorpe The thunder box incident is probably the most entertaining and memorable thing I have read in a long time.
But whether orders made sense or not de Souza could be trusted to carry them out Indeed he seemed to find a curious private pleasure in doing something he knew to be absurd, with minute efficiency The other officer, Jervis, needed constant supervision Waugh s light, comic touch is always welcome But here, I can t help but compare this to Anthony Powell s magnificent 12 volume saga A Dance to the Music of Time of both wars in which the English are caught up in recuperating from the first war and at the same time ramping up for the next one Still, I m definitely going to read the next two in this Sword of Honor trilogy.
Guy Crouchback, Determined To Get Into The War, Takes A Commission In The Royal Corps Of Halberdiers His Spirits High, He Sees All The Trimmings But None Of The Action And His First Campaign, An Abortive Affair On The West African Coastline, Ends With An Escapade Which Seriously Blots His Halberdier Copybook Men at Arms Is The First Book In Waugh S Brilliant Trilogy, Sword Of Honour, Which Chronicles The Fortunes Of Guy Crouchback The Second And Third Volumes, Officers And Gentlemen And Unconditional Surrender, Are Also Published In Penguin Modern Classics Pious, innocuous, nebbishy Guy Crouchback, last scion of an ancient and undistinguished Catholic family of the English landed gentry, decides to join the war effort in 1939 as a second lieutenant, despite his middle age and lack of military experience It gives some purpose to his life, after his wife abandoned him for a series of subsequent exciting husbands He has some trouble finding a regiment that will take him, but finally gets into officer training with the Royal Corps of Halberdiers He earnestly tries to do everything right, while his fellow and foil Apthorpe gets into all kinds of preposterous scraps It s all inexplicable training, orders and counterorders, hasty movements followed bay days of waiting, as the military situation in faraway France Winner of the 1952 James Tait Black Memorial Prize, Britain s oldest literary award, Men at Arms is the first part of Waugh s The Sword of Honour Trilogy , his look at the Second World War It follows Guy Crouchback, the nearly forty year old son of an English aristocratic family who manages to get accepted to officers training in the early part of 1940, and is eventually posted to Dakar in Senegal West Africa While there, he inadvertently poisons one of his fellow officers and is sent home in disgrace.
That s about all the plot there is But the book was interesting for its look at British officers instruction in WWII, in contrast with other reading I ve done which focuses on the training of rank and file soldiers, and for the insight into the chaos that was the British Army in the early part of the war The brigade resumed its old duty of standing by for orders Waugh s wickedly dry