Brideshead Abbreviated

Brideshead Abbreviated, by John Crace, Random House RRP£12.99 368 pages

The literary parodist John Crace, who regularly punctures contemporary reputations in The Guardian, turns his guns on 100 20th-century authors, including such giants as Kipling, Waugh, Woolf and Orwell. Does it work? Not entirely. His “digested read” spoofs work best on the overpraised, not on the classics, and Henry James, Joyce and Proust slither past his satire. But there are shrewd judgments here, and he is especially good on the casual racism and sexism of the early years of the century.

As a crib or as lit crit, these parodies work well and in many cases will save you reading the original.

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