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Put Out More Flags Upper class scoundrel Basil Seal mad bad and dangerous to know creates havoc wherever he goes much to the despair of the three women in his life his sister his mother and his mistress When Neville Chamberlain declares war on Germany it seems the perfect opportunity for action and adventure So Basil follows the call to arms and sets forth to enjoy his finest hour as a war hero Basil's instincts for self preservation come to the fore as he insinuates himself into the Ministry of Information and a little known section of Military Security With Europe frozen in the phoney war when will Basil's big chance to fight finally arrive

  • Paperback
  • 304 pages
  • Put Out More Flags
  • Evelyn Waugh
  • English
  • 08 February 2016
  • 9780316916059

About the Author: Evelyn Waugh

Evelyn Waugh's father Arthur was a noted editor and publisher His only sibling Alec also became a writer of note In fact his book “The Loom of Youth” 1917 a novel about his old boarding school Sherborne caused Evelyn to be expelled from there and placed at Lancing College He said of his time there “the whole of English education when I was brought up was to produce prose writers; it was al

10 thoughts on “Put Out More Flags

  1. Craig Craig says:

    I suspect Basil Seal and Bertie Wooster are two versions of the same person Bertie is the one that shows up in stories for polite company; Basil is the one that shows up in court transcripts

  2. Gary Inbinder Gary Inbinder says:

    Published in 1942 “Put Out More Flags” brings back characters from earlier Waugh novels including some of the Bright Young People from “Vile Bodies” and the caddish Basil Seal from “Black Mischief” Waugh’s interwar coterie of socialites who lived for partying and pleasure were among the generation who paid the price for not taking life including the threat of Hitler’s Germany seriously They were like first class passengers on the Titanic using shards from the fatal iceberg to chill the last of the champagne“In the week which preceded the outbreak of the Second World War—days of surmise and apprehension which cannot without irony be called the last days of “peace”—and on the Sunday morning when all doubts were finally resolved and misconceptions corrected three rich women thought first and mainly of Basil Seal They were his sister his mother and his mistress”What were the “three rich women” thinking about? The following passages are revealing First an exchange between Basil’s sister Barbara Sothill and her husband Freddy a serving officer Freddy “If there’d been like us and fewer like Basil there’d never have been a war You can’t blame Ribbentrop for thinking us decadent when he saw people like Basil about I don’t suppose they’ll have much use for him in the Army He’s thirty six He might get some sort of job connected with censorship He seems to know a lot of languages” Barbara “You’ll seeBasil will be covered with medals while your silly old yeomanry are still messing in a Trust House and waiting for your tanks” Next Lady Seal Basil’s mother Now she had a son to offer her countryBasil—her wayward and graceless and grossly disappointing Basil whose unaccountable taste for low company had led him into so many vexatious scrapes in the last ten yearswho had stolen her emeralds and made Mrs Lyne Basil’s mistress distressingly conspicuous—Basil his peculiarities merged in the manhood of England at last entering on his inheritance She must ask Jo about getting him a commission in a decent regiment Finally Basil’s mistress Angela Lyne The following is an exchange between Angela and her maid Angela “Well we’re at war now I expect there’ll be a lot to put up with” Maid “Will Mr Seal be in the army?” Angela “I shouldn’t be surprised” Maid “He will look different won’t he madam?” “Very different” They were both silent and in the silence Angela knew by an intuition which defied any possible doubt exactly what her maid was thinking She was thinking “Supposing Mr Seal gets himself killed Best thing really for all concerned” How does Basil respond to the expectations and desires of his mother sister and mistress?With the outbreak of WWII the opportunistic Basil states his objective early on I want to be one of those people one heard about in 1919 the hard faced men who did well out of the warLady Seal seeks the aid of Sir Joseph Mainwaring Jo a well meaning well connected booby of the old school Sir Joseph arranges a meeting between Basil and the Lieutenant Colonel of an elite regiment To please his mother Basil lunches with Sir Joseph and the colonel The disastrous interview is summed up in a brief understated exchange between Sir Joseph and Lady Seal Lady Seal “I hope Basil made a good impression Sir Joseph “I hope he did too I’m afraid he said some rather unfortunate things” Lady Seal “Well what is the next step?”Sir Joseph would have liked to say that there was no next step in that direction; that the best Basil could hope for was oblivion; perhaps in a month or so when the luncheon was forgottenIn fact Basil initiates a “next step” He visits his sister at her country home and uses her position as local billeting officer a person in charge of finding temporary homes for big city children sent to the country to escape the air raids to set up a racket Basil uses three horrible children led by a teen aged big sister who fancies Basil to extort money from genteel country folk mainly retirees who’ll pay any price to be rid of the monsters In the course of his scam Basil manages to pick up an attractive young mistress a newlywed whose husband is away on duty Basil finishes his country sojourn by “selling” the obnoxious brats to another billeting officer with similarly larcenous intentionsBack in London through a combination of chicanery and luck Basil obtains a plum job at the War Office working for the aptly named Colonel Plum Now an officer in uniform Basil’s job is to root out subversives His first idea is to finger a group of harmless bohemians with Marxist leanings including a former girlfriend describing them as a dangerous Communist cell When the colonel tells Basil he’s interested in Fascists Basil frames and betrays his friend Ambrose Silk Ironically Ambrose the falsely accused crypto fascist is Gay and half Jewish Basil warns Ambrose of an impending arrest and then helps him flee England to relative safety in the Irish countryside Afterwards Basil helps himself to Ambrose’s London flat and expensive wardrobe Toward the end of the novel Basil does an about face—sort of view spoilerConfronted with the mental and physical decline of his recently widowed former mistress Angela Basil proposes marriage He also regains some honor by volunteering along with pals Alastair Digby Vaine Trumpington and Peter Pastmaster for hazardous duty in a special service battalion Alastair describes this “very exciting” new unit to his wife ”They’re getting up special parties for raiding They go across to France and creep up behind Germans and cut their throats in the dark” Basil is similarly excited by the prospects of his “new racket” He tells his bride to be ”There’s only one serious occupation for a chap now that’s killing Germans I have an idea I shall rather enjoy it” All’s well that ends well with a few of the Bright Young People redeemed by the exigencies of war hide spoiler

  3. Nigeyb Nigeyb says:

    I recently read and very much enjoyed Sword of Honour like this book Sword of Honour is a satirical novel about World War Two The books that comprise the Sword of Honour trilogy were written in the 1950s and 1960s when Evelyn Waugh was able to put World War Two into some kind of perspective Sword of Honour also happens to be one of Evelyn Waugh's masterpieces Put Out More Flags an earlier war novel opens in the autumn of 1939 and all takes place during the twelve months of the war It was published in 1942I have read most of Evelyn Waugh's major works now and as usual the uality of the writing here is a pleasure The story follows the wartime activities of characters introduced in Waugh's earlier satirical novels Decline and Fall Vile Bodies and Black Mischief The uncertainty and confusion of the so called phoney war are brilliantly evoked and as is so often the case the satire and humour are very black Basil Seal who readers may recall from Black Mischief is the star of the show His opportunism creating all manner of mischief for those he runs into and his scam involving a troublesome family of evacuated children is brilliant and sums him up perfectly To suggest this book is full of humour would be misleading one scene involving the troubled and tragic Cedric Lyne visiting his estranged wife Angela with their son Nigel for once impressed by him in his army uniform is absolutely dripping with sadness and melancholy and demonstrates Waugh's extraordinary skill Overall the book felt slightly uneven and a bit rushed There is much to admire and enjoy however I conclude this is one of Evelyn Waugh's less successful novels measured against his exceptionally high standards It's of most interest to Waugh completists of whom I am definitely one and should not be prioritised ahead of his key works Brideshead Revisited Sword of Honour Decline and Fall and A Handful of Dust 35

  4. Jason Goodwin Jason Goodwin says:

    Thank God for Waugh Going back to him it must be ten years since I've read any is like emerging from a Turkish bath alive in every pore your senses uickened and joie de vivre restored The dialogue is brilliant the characters sad odious weak shabbily noble all of them brilliantly anatomised Waugh's sympathies are huge and yet in life such a splenetic and selfish man and his wit is at full tilt What a horrible horrible man is Basil Seal The evacuee children the Connollys are among Waugh's best comic creations Named I now realise for Cyril Connolly

  5. Mark Mark says:

    War has been declared and the the privileged Upper Classes already feeling the pinch must now draw in their horns even further and lay off their domestic servants and reduce the number of butlers footmen and gardeners But some of their enterprising staff have already seen their opportunity war presents and Barbara Seal’s maids at Malfrey display plenty of get up and go “Edith and Olive and me have talked it over and we want to go and make aeroplanes”But the owners of the country piles must now 'do their bit' and either have the local militia camped on their lawns with their sprawling tented villages and the officers made welcome in their drawing rooms or take in children evacuees despatched from Birmingham and billeted upon them by the local authorities Meanwhile their husbands seek to use the wheels of patronage and secure an easy wartime occupation The incorrigible Basil Seal is typical of many of his class a fellow dilettante like the pompous Alastair Digby Vaine Trumpington they are ‘networking’ and using connections being kept busy seeking cosy sinecures or commissions into respectable regiments as long as they don’t get posted overseas or anywhere likely to see front line action Their amusing escapades make enjoyable reading and Waugh writes elegantly and with breathtaking ease describing their mishaps like when Basil Seal seeks to exploit the opportunity to billet some insufferable and undisciplined working class children on local gentile society He is not amiss to some nefarious wartime profiteeringand as with all Evelyn Waugh’s brilliant satires there is plenty of absurdity and jiggery pokery and tom foolery and lampooning but also some poignant melancholia for instance the pathetic and diminishing Mrs Angela Lynne forced to return from the South of France at the outbreak of war and let down by her lovers she descends into alcoholismIt’s a wonder that this novel was published at all as it was written at the height of the military crisis in 1942 and showed the appalling chaos at the Ministry of Information and the crazy labyrinthine bureaucracy at the War Office where applications for posts were met with layers of obfuscation and indecision Waugh shows in this scathing and merciless attack on British institutions they were hide bound complex hierarchies unable to prioritise or follow a co ordinated planA wonderful read

  6. Jim Jim says:

    What a strange novel It starts showing the adventurers of a lot of ne'er do wells trying to avoid doing anything serious for the Great Boer War as some of them call it Included are characters from Evelyn Waugh's earlier novels such as Decline and Fall Vile Bodies and Black MischiefThey whirl around trying not to get their fingers burnt but eventually the war calls out to them and even the reprobate Basil Seal volunteers for a commando posting What starts out as a comedy ends up with several characters rolling up their sleeves and deciding that they better get along with itPut Out More Flags is named after the following lines from a Chinese sage uoted by Lin Yutang and appearing in the front of the bookA man getting drunk at a farewell party should strike a musical tone in order to strengthen his spirit and a drunk military man should order gallons and put out flags in order to increase his military splendourThe British military as usual do not get much respect from Waugh His ne'er do wells on the other hand have some sand deep in their fundaments

  7. Wealhtheow Wealhtheow says:

    The general image of Britain at the beginning of the second World War is very different from the polite uietly ridiculous society portrayed here The story follows an aging rascal Basil who I came to hate his aristocratic family and his friend Ambrose a flamboyantly gay writer The talk is witty the characters vivid and the plot mostly serves to show how wrong all the experts where when it came time for war

  8. Leslie Leslie says:

    Evelyn Waugh's look at the first year of Britain's involvement in WW2 revolves around Basil Seal Seal and his friends family are typical Waugh characters and his depiction of the Ministry of Information was hilarious It is an interesting look at how many Brits felt at the beginning of the war an attitude easily forgotten in the events that followed

  9. Priscilla Priscilla says:

    Waugh is clearly a masterful writer and there were parts that I found funny I can understand why some may really enjoy and even love this book but his satire of the British aristocracy during the phony war just didn't draw me in I also found his portrayal of women lacking

  10. Joel Joel says:

    This is a satirical comedy looking at how a group of upper class English socialites respond to the beginning of WWII It bridges the gap uite nicely between the social class Waugh first began satirising in Vile Bodies which itself anticipated the Second World War by a number of years and the romanticisation of the pre War period and incorporation of deeper religious themes which Waugh attempted to address in Brideshead Revisited It also sits uite nicely alongside Waugh's other WII satire the Sword of Honour trilogy

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