What a successful seminar we had this afternoon. I don't want to be all 'Your Free Mountain Bikes Are Waiting To Be Collected From The Basement' (in the classic 'Whacking Day'), but I was being peer-observed today, and only the talkative students turned up. Most of them even had copies of the book, and all of them had read it. I'm sorry the rest weren't there - turnout has been really good on this module - but it was great to discuss narrative structure, the link between syntactical oddities, modernism and the parallel between Vile Bodies John Dos Passos's USA (not a link often made, I suspect), and they noticed some really interesting bits I'd overlooked.
I kept meaning to go back to ideas but they were coming up with them faster than we could talk about them. For some stretches, I had the pleasure of just being the referee while the students talked to each other, which is definitely the sign of a successful class. One thing that came up was Waugh's presentation of women: one student felt that Waugh wrote women very well, while another thought that he drew on pre-existing stereotypes. It's a tricky novel: the implied reader is hard to identify, and Waugh balances his standard misanthropy and snobbery with a hard-eyed critique of aristocratic Modernism which he soon sadly lost.
Cwmardy next week - set in the same period, but in South Wales mining slums rather than hotels, palaces, Downing Street and dirigibles. Hope you can see where I'm going with this one.
Here's a clip from the film adaptation of Vile Bodies, renamed Bright Young Things. Don't watch any more of it - it's one of the worst films ever made. Down there with Drop Dead Fred, The Last Airbender and Howard the Duck.