Helena (1950 novel)
|Publisher||Chapman and Hall|
|Preceded by||'The Loved One'|
|Followed by||'Love Among the Ruins. A Romance of the Near Future'|
The book has been described as lacking the characteristic biting satire for which Waugh is best known. However, the figure of Constantius Chlorus, Constantine's father, was interpreted by friends of the novelist as a caricature of Field-Marshal Bernard Montgomery, a man Waugh mocked as a vainglorious social climber. More generally, the corruption and instability of the Roman society Waugh describes is reminiscent of the malaise and pragmatism that prevails over tradition and chivalric ethics at the end of the Sword of Honour trilogy. Helena's saintliness does not allow her to save her son from an imperial destiny she fears and disapproves of (at one point she fantasises about him becoming a provincial colonel); nor is she able to save her innocent grandson Crispus from being murdered on Constantine's orders in a palace struggle.
Waugh always described Helena as his best work. Since his death it has received little critical attention and is usually regarded even by admirers as a minor work.
- Drijvers, Jan Willem. "Evelyn Waugh, Helena and the True Cross." Classics Ireland 7 (2000).
|This article about a historical novel is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.|