Subtitled "A Novel of Many Manners, " Evelyn Waugh's notorious first novel lays waste the "heathen idol" of British sportsmanship, the cultured perfection of Oxford, and the inviolable honor codes of the English gentleman. Within the book's unparalleled, rampant satire roam at will such characters as the Hon. Mrs. Beste-Chetwynde, Viscount Tangent, the utterly helpless hero, Paul Pennyfeather, stalked by various representatives of "the English country families baying for broken glass, " that refreshing bounder who misbehaves without compunction, Captain Grimes ("I don't believe one can ever be unhappy for long provided one does exactly what one wants when one wants to"), and the equally sulubrious butler, Philbrick, a graduate of the underworld who likes to tell about revolting crimes.
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