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Mr Loveday's Little Outing

Mr Loveday's Little Outing

I. The author:

Evelyn Waugh (Evelyn Arthur St. John Waugh /i?vl?n w??/ 1903-1966) was born in Hampstead, England, into a family of publishers and writers. He was educated at Lancing and at Hertford College, Oxford, where he majored in modern history.

He was an English writer, best known for such darkly humorous and satirical novels as Decline and Fall, Vile Bodies, Scoop, A Handful of Dust,and The Loved One, as well as for serious works, such as Brideshead Revisited and The Sword of Honour Trilogy that clearly manifest his Catholic convictions. Many of Waugh's novels depict British aristocracy and high society, which he satirises but to which he was also strongly attracted. In addition, he wrote short stories, three biographies, and the first volume of an unfinished autobiography. His travel literature, extensive diaries and correspondence have also been published.

Waugh's works were very successful with the reading public and he was widely admired as a humorist and as a prose stylist, but as his social conservatism and religiosity became more overt, his works grew more controversial with critics. In his notes for an unpublished review of Brideshead Revisited, George Orwell declared that Waugh was "about as good a novelist as one can be while holding untenable opinions." Martin Amis found that the snobbery of Brideshead was "a failure of imagination, an artistic failure." On the other hand, American literary critic Edmund Wilson pronounced Waugh "the only first-rate comic genius that has appeared in English since Bernard Shaw." Time magazine, in a 1966 obituary, summarised his oeuvre by claiming that Waugh had "developed a wickedly hilarious yet fundamentally religious assault on a century that, in his opinion, had ripped up the nourishing taproot of tradition and let wither all the dear things of the world."

Evelyn Waugh is considered by many scholars to be one of the most talented and significant British writers of the twentieth century.

Apart from his novels, Waugh also wrote several acclaimed travel books, two additional biographies, and an autobiography, A Little Learning.

II. Summary:

At the County Home for Mental Defectives, Lady Moping unwillingly visits her cross-dressing husband at a mental institution, she also meets the charming and affable Mr Loveday. Loveday may seem a reasonable man, but that doesn’t mean that he’s been cured. He is a gentle soul who keeps Lord Moping as well as the other residents happy. She is amazed to discover that Loveday has been a patient for the last twenty years, one that the alcoholic doctor can barely do without. Loveday

invites Lady Moping to one of her husband’s tea parties where she learns that if he were to be freed, Loveday would only need to take one short

outing before contentedly resuming his life of servitude. Her ladyship persuades the other residents to petition to the Government for Loveday’s

release, a petition that is successful. On being liberated, Loveday allows himself his one little outing – and repeats the brutal murder for which he was originally incarcerated twenty years before.

III. Critical Reception

During his lifetime Waugh's short stories enjoyed a measure of commercial and critical success. Contemporary reviewers admired the style and wit of his stories, but many considered his short works to be minor efforts from the pen of a great novelist. Waugh's stories continue to be praised by readers for their cleverness, stylistic elegance, and ability to entertain.

Mr. Loveday's Little Outing and Other Sad Stories

His first collection of stories, Mr. Loveday's Little Outing and Other Sad Stories,was published in 1936. The title story—a witty tale with elements of the grotesque—is about an elderly asylum inmate who is released by a social reformer. Throughout the story, Waugh uses satire and black humor to mock pretensions of social scientists and experimenters.

Waugh's Roman Catholic sensibility may well have drawn him to create a tale where the innocent are culpable of having released the guilty, but he is too honest an artist not to admit the possibility of other readings. "Jock" and Donald would have had much to say of Mister Loveday, as undoubtedly would the late R. D. Laing. Although a wee thing rough round the edges on the day seen, there's some promising acting on show here, and it's to be hoped that at least some members of the cast may be seen in future Fringes, with stronger material to work with.