I think Evelyn Waugh was reading a lot of Thomas Hardy when he penned this novel. There are so many little elements put together… Far From the Madding Crowd
’s Sergeant Troy and the coast scene…the relationship upheavals in Jude the Obscure
with Jude Fawley, Arabella and Sue… even how Pierston’s story goes full circle in The Well-Beloved
… and most important of all the roles of fate, choice and consequence, present in all of Hardy’s novels and stories. The mix is wonderful. Paul’s story is full of twists and turns, insane meetings and outcomes, both tragic and advantageous. You think Waugh is going to take his story one way, and yet he makes a complete about face, especially in terms of the ending: Does the character learn his lesson or will his choice lead him along the same path on which he’s been? It’s wonderfully ironic. Overall despite the doom and gloom title, Decline and Fall
is quite fun.