First American Edition of Evelyn Waugh's Men at Arms; inscribed by him to a former member of the Artists Rifles who contributed materials which informed the present volume
Men at Arms.
Item Number: 96161
Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1952.
First American edition of the first book in Waugh’s acclaimed Sword of Honour Trilogy. Octavo, original cloth. Association copy, inscribed by the author on the front free endpaper in the year of publication, “For J.L. Naimaster with thanks for his help to the author.” The recipient, J.L. Naimaster, responded to an advertisement Waugh placed in The Dursley Times when he was beginning to write Officers and Gentleman seeking an English P.O.W. who had been taken prisoner in France to provide detailed information about their experience in the war in exchange for hospitality, expenses and 50 pounds for two days of interrogation. Laid in is a typed letter signed in which Naimaster responded to the advertisement suggesting a suitable candidate. He also mentions in the letter that he previously provided pre-war training notes to Waugh for content for the present volume, Men at Arms, through a mutual connection, Tommy Wallis of the Rifle Brigade. Waugh had returned the notes to Naimaster with an autograph note on his letterhead which is also laid in and reads, “These were lent me by Major Wallis who I understand is no longer at Winchester. I return them with the deepest gratitude for the help they gave me.” Naimaster also requested an autographed copy of Men at Arms, to which Waugh responded with this inscribed copy. Near fine in a very good dust jacket. With Naimaster’s bookplate to the pastedown. Housed in a custom clamsell box with red gilt morocco spine label. An exceptional association offering an intimate insight into Waugh’s writing process.
The Sword of Honour trilogy of novels about World War II, is largely based on the author's own experiences as an army officer and some critics ague the crowning achievement Waugh's career. Its central character is Guy Crouchback, head of an ancient but decayed Catholic family, who at first discovers new purpose in the challenge to defend Christian values against Nazi barbarism, but then gradually finds the complexities and cruelties of war too much for him. "Sword of Honour was the climax of [Waugh’s] career as a novelist . . . Here in his final work there run together the two styles, of mischief and gravity, that can be noted in his writing from the beginning . . . He may justifiably have thought of it as crowning his work" (Frank Kermode). Waugh received the 1952 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Men at Arms. The trilogy is considered by many critics to be the finest novel series of the Second World War.