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16 กรกฏาคม 2552
 
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decline and fall

The novel tells us the story of Paul Pennyfeather, a student at the fictional Scone College, Oxford who is sent down for running through the college grounds without his trousers, having been inadvertently immersed in the activities of the fictional Bollinger Club. Having defaulted on the conditions of his inheritance, he is forced to take a job teaching at an obscure public school in Wales called Llanabba, run by Dr Fagan. Attracted to the wealthy mother of one of his pupils, Pennyfeather becomes private tutor to the boy, Peter, over break and is soon engaged to be married to Peter's mother, Margot Beste-Chetwynde (who later becomes "Lady Metroland," and appears in Waugh's other novels); Pennyfeather, however, is unaware that the source of her income is a number of high-class brothels in South America. Arrested on the morning of the wedding, after running an errand for Margot related to her business, Pennyfeather takes the fall to protect his fiancée's honour and is sentenced to seven years at a thinly disguised Dartmoor prison. Margot marries another man with government ties and he arranges for Paul to fake his own death and escape. In the end he returns to where he started at Scone. He studies under his own name, having convinced the college that he is the distant cousin of the Paul Pennyfeather who was sent down previously. The novel ends as it started, with Paul sitting in his room listening to the distant shouts of the Bollinger Club.
A thing happens sometimes... Despite our best efforts, we disappear... We become someone else. Such an event occurs to Paul Pennyfeather in "Decline and Fall," by Evelyn Waugh.
Of course, it isn't until halfway through the book that Waugh tells us,
In fact, the whole of this book is really an account of the mysterious disappearance of Paul Pennyfeather, so that readers must not complain if the shadow which took his name does not amply fill the important part of hero for which he was originally cast.
Such a hero is Pennyfeather that he gets kicked out of Scone College, Oxford for indecent exposure and he's thrown into jail for "white slave traffic." But, that takes the whole of the book to fully explain.
In the meantime, the first occurrence was quite by chance (he was wearing the wrong tie and the Bollinger Club decided to take his trousers, leaving him to run across the campus). Then, when he leaves college and takes a position as a schoolmaster, he falls in with some very "interesting" characters...
Mr. Prendergast is a clergyman, who has doubts. He tells Pennyfeather, "Perhaps one day I shall see Light... and then I shall go back to the ministry." Captain Grimes is nice enough fellow, but he continually gets himself into scrapes. And, he always seems to get out of them somehow (whether by committing bigamy, by pretending suicide, etc.)
Perhaps, the most enigmatic character that Pennyfeather meets is Philbrick. His past is mysterious. He tells everyone a different story... And, he always seems to slip through the fingers of any law enforcement on his tail.
These characters, along with Margot and her son Peter, help to liven up Pennyfeather's life. Then, of course, the poor fellow dies and is resurrected. In the end, it really comes down to the fact that Pennyfeather is "static." He's not the type of person who gets on the wheel of life and hangs on for dear life. He's much more content to "stay in the seats and sit still" and "watch others." All of the events that affect his life take place without much of his involvement in them. And, he ends up right back where he started.
He may have declined and fallen to the utter depths, but somehow he managed to pick himself up again.
Paul Pennyfeather, a likable but naive college man who, because of a misunderstanding which he doesn't bother to contest, gets sent down for indecent exposure, and decides to become a school teacher ("I expect you'll be becoming a schoolmaster, sir. That's what most of the gentlemen does, sir, that gets sent down for indecent behaviour.") His fortunes wax and wane, but somehow he always lands on his feet, and never seems bothered by his changing fortunes. Even when jailed for someone else's activities, he is unperturbed. After all, "Anyone who has been to an English public school will always feel comparatively at home in prison."

There are some inspired comedic scenes, such as when the news of the prison chaplain's having been beheaded gets passed among the prisoners during the singing of a hymn:

"O God, our help in ages past," sang Paul.
"Where's Prendergast today?"
"What, ain't you 'eard? 'e's been done in."
"And our eternal home."

"Old Prendy went to see a chap
What said he'd seen a ghost;
Well, he was dippy, and he'd got
A mallet and a saw."

And so on. This grotesque humour is augmented by the fact that the headless chaplain Prendergast is one of the books central, and most sympathetic, characters. Waugh must have been cackling with glee.




Create Date : 16 กรกฎาคม 2552
Last Update : 16 กรกฎาคม 2552 21:53:11 น. 2 comments
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โดย: uuu (pat_rossalin ) วันที่: 26 กันยายน 2554 เวลา:16:54:27 น.  

 


โดย: เพื่อนปราจีน วันที่: 14 ธันวาคม 2554 เวลา:1:03:56 น.  

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