|Without Evelyn Waugh there would be no ab fab.|
Decline and Fall (1928)
by Evelyn Waugh
Decline and Fall is Evelyn Waugh's first novel. Waugh belongs to the "comic" strand of the novel, a strain of literature that is present in the creation of the novel itself and in a certain sense is a constituent element of the literary elements that preceded the novel proper. Waugh draws from different comic sub-traditions: contemporary critics claimed that Waugh was simply aping Voltaire's Candide. If you are looking for French inspiration closer in time, the characters of Guy de Maupassant in Bel Ami come immediately to mind.
At the same time, Waugh is a quintessentially English writer. Although his books are perhaps not particularly popular in 2014, his influence in mediums like television and film is omnipresent. The whole idea of a dry, sarcastic, archness in dialogue seems to originate with Waugh himself. Compared to other "light" authors of the teens and twenties- Edith Wharton, I'm looking at you- Waugh's satire cuts with a knife and would not be considered "gentle."
There can be no question that Waugh is NOT for everyone. I'm sure J.K. Rowling has read everything Waugh has ever written, but I bet none of her Harry Potter fan base have even heard of him. When you take Waugh's influence on other light lit franchises- Bridget Jones diary would be a not so distant grand child. Television shows like Absolutely Fabulous- these are all made possible by Waugh.