Books: Waugh Stories

EVELYN WAUGH, A BIOGRAPHY

by CHRISTOPHER SYKES 462 pages. Little, Brown. $12.50.

One of this century's funniest writers, Evelyn Waugh was also one of its most melancholy, a man submerged in private rancor. "You have no idea how much nastier I would be if I was not a Catholic," he informed a friend. "Without supernatural aid I would hardly be a human being."

Waugh's youth was by no means blighted. His family was congenial—his father Arthur ran a small but prestigious publishing house—and lived comfortably in a London suburb, amid books and talk of books. The adolescent Evelyn saw Oxford as a kind of...

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