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Black Mischief: VII - VIII

The following is the final installment of "A Reading of Black Mischief" that I've been posting at Good For You, a site that I have decided to close. Setting it up seemed like a good idea at the time, but upon reflection it makes no sense to isolate what I have to say about classic works (novels, films, operas, and so forth). Everything winds up at Portico eventually, and, indeed, that is where you will find all of the entries generated by this reading of Waugh's great novel. You'll find them, moreover, in order, not blogwards.

Toward the end of June, I'll begin a group reading of Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go. Anyone can participate; I'll announce the procedure when I set a date. Stay tuned.

With a great deal up in the air, Waugh begins the last substantial chapter on a sustained note of calm. First there is Sir Samson's displeasure at the overruning of the Legation by "the entire English population of Debra-Dowa." He overhears his uninvited guests describing the preceding days' riots and retires to the Chancery, where all the young aides are playing "cut-throat bridge." Presently the Envoy asks William to don a uniform and take his place at the coronation of Achon, which has just been announced. The scene shifts to the Nestorian cathedral, and the spectacle is described with the faintest mockery - mockery so faint, in fact, that it constitutes a kindness. It is clear that Waugh is of a divided mind when it comes to this elaborate but rather pagan ceremony. He can't help sneering, but he reminds himself to be reverent. The result is the book's first pathetic moment, as the formerly incarcerated Emperor is led to the throne.

Continue reading about Black Mischief at Portico.


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