match...barb for barb


It's also from Zadie Smith's review on Edward St Aubyn's novels:

"But here and elsewhere, one senses an emotional imperative that means more to the author than matching Evelyn Waugh barb for barb."

Is the phrase "matching Evelyn Waugh barb for barb" referring to be an exact counterpart of Evelyn Waugh?

Thank you.
  • kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    It means he is not trying to be just as witty as Evelyn Waugh. He is content with fewer witty sayings to focus more on emotion.
    Last edited:
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