This volume is part of the Complete Works of Evelyn Waugh critical edition, which brings together all Waugh's published and previously unpublished writings for the first time with comprehensive introductions and annotation, and a full account of each text's manuscript development and textual variants. The edition's General Editor is Alexander Waugh, Evelyn Waugh's grandson and editor of the twelve-volume Personal Writings sequence.
This is the first critical edition of Waugh's celebrated novel, a work that is unapologetically modernist in form and tone. The history of Vile Bodies presents an intriguing bibliographical and biographical detective story, not least because Waugh's first wife left him when he was in the middle of writing it. Drawing on previously unpublished correspondence, this edition plots the novel's composition against the cultural backdrop of the 1929 'Flapper's Election', the world of the
Bright Young People, and the Wall Street Crash. An introduction and textual analysis explores a range of questions, including: Why were Waugh's corrections to the only extant typescript ignored? What is the evidence to suggest the very point in the autograph manuscript at which Waugh broke off upon learning of his
wife's affair? Did he go back over the previous chapter adding darker touches, and, on returning to composition, use the book as a form of public letter to his wife? What readings did the typist invent through mistranscription?
Martin Stannard is Professor of Modern English Literature at the University of Leicester, editor of the Critical Heritage volume on Evelyn Waugh (1984), and author of an acclaimed two-volume Waugh biography (1986, 1992). He is also the editor of the Norton Critical Edition of Ford Madox Ford's The Good Soldier, and co-Editor with Greg Walker of Ashgate's 37-volume series: Studies in European Cultural Transition. Martin Stannard's biography
of Muriel Spark was published by Weidenfeld in 2009. He is the Executive Editor of The Complete Works of Evelyn Waugh.