Evelyn Waugh’s Sword of Honour is epic in not merely its sweep but also its use of the conventions of the genre, modeling itself especially on The Divine Comedy. The trilogy, which alludes constantly to classical and contemporary authors, is self-consciously literary so that Waugh may claim a place in the literary tradition and assert his aesthetic principles, especially in response to James Joyce. The trilogy parodies Joyce’s work, primarily through the figure of the mad novelist Ludovic, but the doubling of Joyce and Ludovic is part of a series—the protagonist Guy Crouchback and Waugh, Ludovic and Guy, Ludovic and Waugh, Waugh and Joyce—by which Waugh critiques his earlier Brideshead Revisited and distinguishes the trilogy from Joyce’s novels. He uses Joycean...

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