Dr. Casey Andrews is kicking off this year’s summer reading recommendations! Scroll below to hear from Casey about some beach-worthy books!
Some of my summer work/fun reading is related to something I’m writing about British modernist novelists engaging with the problematic combination of Christianity and nationalism. My focus right now is on Virginia Woolf, D. H. Lawrence, Evelyn Waugh, and Sylvia Townsend Warner.My specific recommendations for your summer reading, though, are novels by Waugh and Warner.
Waugh’s Decline and Fall (1928) is an outrageous picaresque featuring the hapless Paul Pennyfeather unfairly expelled from university and drifting through a terrible teaching assignment at a boys’ school in Wales, then to prison, then back to university. It’s a must-read for all snarky undergrads.
The loose sequel Vile Bodies (1930) takes a similar, hilariously cynical approach to the Bright Young People of London’s wealthy party scene from the 1920s. This novel will make you want to shake cocktails, adopt new slang, and feel bad about yourself in the morning.
Far more earnest and romantic is Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited(1945), a nostalgic look at waning upper-class life drenched in Catholic mysticism.
I also heartily recommend the shamefully under-read Sylvia Townsend Warner, especially her first novel Lolly Willowes; Or, The Loving Hunstman (1926). It starts as an English comedy of manners set in a small village and morphs into a satanic romp through a secret coven of witches. Fun, funny, and completely unpredictable.
Dr. Casey Andrews