A Handful of Dust is a novel by the British writer Evelyn Waugh. First published in 1934, it is often grouped with the author's early, satirical comic novels for which he became famous in the pre-World War II years. Commentators have, however, drawn attention to its serious undertones, and have regarded it as a transitional work pointing towards Waugh's Catholic postwar fiction.
The protagonist is Tony Last, a contented but shallow English country squire, who, having been betrayed by his wife and seen his illusions shattered one by one, joins an expedition to the Brazilian jungle, only to find himself trapped in a remote outpost as the prisoner of a maniac. Waugh incorporated several autobiographical elements into the plot, including his own recent desertion by his wife. In 1933–34 he travelled into the South American interior, and a number of incidents from the voyage are incorporated into the novel. Tony's singular fate in the jungle was first used by Waugh as the subject of an independent short story, published in 1933 under the title "The Man Who Liked Dickens".
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