Put Out More Flags
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|Publisher||Chapman and Hall|
|Followed by||Brideshead Revisited|
The title of the novel comes from the saying of an anonymous Chinese sage, quoted and translated by Lin Yutang in The Importance of Living (1937). The book is dedicated to Randolph Churchill, who found a service commission for Waugh during the Second World War.
The dormant conflict of the Phoney War is reflected in the activity of the novel's main characters. Earnest would-be soldier Alistair Trumpington finds himself engaged in incomprehensible manoeuvres instead of real combat, while Waugh's recurring ne'er-do-well Basil Seal, first encountered as the Emperor Seth's advisor in Black Mischief, finds ample opportunity for amusing himself in the name of the war effort.
Jonathan Raban described the novel as being "as tightly constructed — point and counterpoint — as a baroque fugue", while L. E. Sissman argues that Put Out More Flags represents a turning point in Waugh's writing career: "Waugh somehow fuses the savage, deadly comedy of his earlier books with the ominous seriousness of his later ones".