Algis Valiunas writes:
Henry Yorke had offended already by writing novels about the working class, a subject Waugh vividly despised. The jumped-up lower breeds were overrunning one of the last preserves of civilization: literature as it had been practiced by writers who appreciated every nuance of class distinction, “the ramifications of the social order which have obsessed some of the acutest minds of the last 150 years.” And the rot was everywhere, starting in the great universities. In a 1955 open letter to Nancy Mitford in Encounter, Waugh skewered Home Secretary R. A. B. Butler’s Education Act, which “provided for the free distribution of university degrees to the deserving poor. . . . L’École de Butler are the primal men and women of the classless society.” To Waugh, the classless society was no society at all. (…)
These five novels, the serious ones, are widely considered to be Waugh’s best. Far from it. He came to see his vocation as instructing a godless world in the true nature of God, when his true calling was as a minor comic master, funny as hell, who could laugh at the most appalling outrages and play jazz clarinet with consummate virtuosity in the devil’s band.