Read Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh Online


A beautiful clothbound edition of Evelyn Waugh's classic novel of duty and desire set against the backdrop of the faded glory of the English aristocracy in the run-up to the Second World War.The most nostalgic and reflective of Evelyn Waugh's novels, Brideshead Revisited looks back to the golden age before the Second World War. It tells the story of Charles Ryder's infatuaA beautiful clothbound edition of Evelyn Waugh's classic novel of duty and desire set against the backdrop of the faded glory of the English aristocracy in the run-up to the Second World War.The most nostalgic and reflective of Evelyn Waugh's novels, Brideshead Revisited looks back to the golden age before the Second World War. It tells the story of Charles Ryder's infatuation with the Marchmains and the rapidly disappearing world of privilege they inhabit. Enchanted first by Sebastian Flyte at Oxford, then by his doomed Catholic family, in particular his remote sister, Julia, Charles comes finally to recognise his spiritual and social distance from them.'Lush and evocative ... Expresses at once the profundity of change and the indomitable endurance of the human spirit'The Times...

Title : Brideshead Revisited
Author :
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ISBN : 9780241284629
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 336 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Brideshead Revisited Reviews

  • Paul Bryant
    2019-03-27 11:01

    ********Please note - contains spoilers ************One's head is rather spinning, there are so many terribly good things and likewise so very much abject wretchedness it's hard to begin. Let us try.1) This book is the twisted story of a homosexual affair, which I was truly not expecting it to be. It's famously set amongst the upper classes, firstly in Oxford, so you get pages of blissed-out descriptions of life amongst British aristocratic students in the 1920s and how many plovers eggs they eat and which claret they guzzle. That part is what I was expecting, and very lush and delectable and appalling it is too. But what surprised me is that it all takes place within a thick pall of implied and overt homosexuality. The two principals of the first half, Charles and Sebastian, are in love, clearly. they do everything and go everywhere together. And the best character in the whole book is a Quentin Crisp-style flaming queer called Anthony Blanche who says things like"Good evening Mulcaster, old sponge and toady, are you lurking amongst the hobbledehoys? Have you come to repay me the three hundred francs I lent you for the poor drab you picked up in the casino? It was a niggardly sum for her trouble, and WHAT a trouble, Mulcaster!"and"The gallery after luncheon was so full of absurd women in the sort of hats they should be made to eat that I rested here with Cyril and Tom and these saucy boys."At one point Anthony takes our hero Charles to a gay club which Charles refers to as a "pansy bar". But here's the thing -a) this novel is not notorious for its gay subject matter; it is true there is no explicit buggery going on, but neither is it especially coy. As it was published in 1945 when English men were being imprisoned for homosexuality (a crime which was only removed from the statutes in 1967, that year of liberation) this seems to me very interesting.b) Nor in the book is there any trace of disapproval anywhere, from anyone, that homosexuality is wrong. The only sin which gets its religious comeuppance is adultery. From this book you would get the notion that the upper classes tolerated openly gay relationships in the 1920s and 1930s. This is surprising to me. It could be something to do with the public school system and the worship of classical Greece. It's all very queer.2) This book appears to think its point is a religious one. So that the climactic sundering of the lovers in part two is because one of them is a passionate disbeliever and the other one realises that religion, by which we mean Catholicism, is genuinely important. As a confirmed "what's God got to do with it" agnostic, this washes right over my head but leaves me feeling damp and annoyed - I trudged through 330 pages for a stupid religious damp squib ending like that? Give me my money back! In the words of The Shangri-Las, "and that's called...bad".3) this book is a love song to wealth and class, and as an only slightly reconstructed old class warrior, I was sailing on queasy seas, but could not help enjoying Waugh's tremendous atmospheric prose and beautiful dialogue. In the words of The Shangri-Las, "and that's called...glad".4) This book presents us with one of my least favourite types of characters, the doomed agonised male with whom we are supposed to agonise along with and swoon over and indeed love. You get this creep popping up all over the place. He's there in The English Patient, he's there in that stupid movie Damage, he's there in Dead Man Walking, he's in la Belle dame Sans Merci, there's a million of them, all doomed, all with soulful eyes, all suffering. In the words of The Shangri-Las, "and that's called...sad".5) This book appears to endorse some extraordinary behaviour. Charles gets married to someone who turns out not to be his true love at all, and has two kids, and goes off to paint in Guatemala for 2 years, and comes back, and his wife asks him to please come and visit his own children which he hasn't seen for 2 years and he regards this request as ... vulgar. And he just... doesn't see them! And no criticism from Waugh either! In the words of The Shangri-Las, "and that's called...mad".So ultimately I don't really know what this book was really "about" but as a portrait of a set of upperclass bastards in England in the 1920s it's almost enthralling. Three and a half stars.--------------Note : Donna Tartt so ripped off part one of this book for The Secret History, with her languorous cliques of uber-rich students. She had more of a story going by page 100 I think, although that was a slowly crawling overfed turtle of a book too. But Evelyn Waugh is just a shade better at writing than our Donna.

  • Schmacko
    2019-04-10 14:02

    I just finished rereading Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, a book I pick up every couple of years or so. This time I read it because of the new movie version movie (the one with Emma Thompson as the Lady Marchmain Flyte). As a critic, I get to see a pre-screening of the new movie on Tuesday; I am taking Dr. Steve. Also, I am a huge fan of the original, very-literal British miniseries from 1981 (it is the first thing that brought Jeremy Irons to international attention, and it had the excessively handsome Anthony Andrews as Sebastian Flyte.). I don’t know exactly when the new movie is coming out.Speaking of coming out, it’s impossible to speak of Brideshead Revisited without talking about the strong homosexual themes. Then again, you also have to talk about the pressure of Catholicism and its attendant guilt. Finally, there is the sense of social climbing, of coveting and envy, that defines the story’s narrator, Charles Ryder.The story is about an upper middle-class boy, Charles Ryder and his integration into a rich English family. After years at boarding school and summers with only his absent-minded and oblivious father as family, Charles meets Sebastian Flyte their third year at Oxford. They immediately fall in love, though Sebastian pukes in Charles’ room.Sebastian is described as a pretty young man, the son of uber-rich Catholic aristocracy. Sebastian throws wild parties for his obviously gay friends (there is no hemming about Sebastian’s friends being fairies), and gets drunk repeatedly. He travels to Venice and the Continent and generally lives an extremely privileged life. He also carries around a teddy bear names Aloysius, which he speaks to as if it were a naughty child. He’s 19 and at college.Sebastian and Charles start a thinly veiled romance – one that has been alternately argued to be sexual or simply a romantic phase by young men. Charles is taken in by Sebastian, his effete friends, and his rich lifestyle, and they are quite open with their affection toward each other. I personally think they have repeated sex, the references to their love for each other, the moments of nudity, and the open discussions of homosexuality are too numerous to ignore.However, as Charles becomes more and more entrenched with the Flyte family, Sebastian grows bitter and drinks more. He tried to keep his life with Charles and his Catholic family separate. Sebastian possibly understands his romance with Charles is being taken over by his family. Perhaps Sebastian realizes his Catholic guilt will also kill his relationship with Charles. Slowly, Sebastian becomes a virulently self-destructive drunk, as the family communicates to Charles that they don’t mind their childish relationship, but that it is a phase that will need to pass. Charles also comes to understand the strength that the orthodox religion has on the family as he watches Sebastian slowly drink himself to death.Over the course of the novel, Charles transfers his affections to Sebastian’s equally unattainable sister, Julia. Charles blatantly admits that he finds Julia and Sebastian very similar in looks and temperament. God knows, the family’s vast wealth and glamour are also draws for Charles; it’s as if Charles will do anything to be a part of the Flyte family. He is a bit of a cipher, a mirror, a quiet man who attracts people because they are able to project upon him exactly what they wish him to be. Charles is a fascinating, longing narrator – there is a bit of The Talented Mr. Ripley in his envy and in his personal blankness. He lusts after Sebastian’s life, but also after Sebastian as a great, flamboyant and handsome man.However, there is such a sense of denigration from that first romance of Sebastian’s and Charles’, and it runs through the entire novel and even into Charles’ and Julia’s romance. The sense of lost innocence along with Sebastian’s deterioration from overdrinking is tragic. Charles admits that, in love, “Sebastian was the first;” he admits this openly to Julia and others. An entirely different sort of destruction happens in Charles’ and Julia’s romance. Both loves are assailed by Catholic guilt.Charles is an agnostic. His lack of religious knowledge and his criticism of Catholic hypocrisy is at first one of the things that attracts Sebastian to him. But it’s also the thing that dooms Charles’ relationship with the family.The mother, Lady Marchmain Flyte, is very pious – separated from her philandering husband (who lives with his mistress in Italy), but refusing to divorce the man for her Catholic beliefs. She is a strong and spiritual patriarch whose guilt and religiosity inspire hatred from her husband and children. Yet, Lady Marchmain doesn’t do anything particularly wrong, and there is a sense that she is an earthbound saint whose kin hate over their own deep senses of guilt – guilt over their own sins: their homosexuality, alcoholism, infidelity, and apostasy from the faith.It’s a frustrating novel. I sense author Waugh’s latent homosexuality, and there is a strong sense of his gross envy of the travels and money and wondrous things and parties and balls of the upper class like his narrator Charles does. Finally, there is the strong sense of Catholicism. You could either say the religion and its guilt-ridden patterns doom the Flyte family. Or you could say that it is the only moral compass that these people have and that God is waiting to pull them back into His fold, even after their darkest sins and self-destruction.The reclaiming of faith among the bourgeois and the over-privileged is the theme I think Waugh thought he was writing about. But there is a sense of such loss over their Bohemian innocence. And there is a palpable sense of guilt and shame that the Catholicism brings on – there doesn’t seem to be much mercy in Waugh’s God. Everything just slowly gets worse and sicker and more depressed. Perhaps that’s why I see the novel as a supreme and beautiful tragedy. Even though Charles comes to respect the spiritual belief and even attend to it some, I am still struck by the decay, the corrosion, the purification – of the beautiful house Brideshead and of its family, the Flytes.As a gay man and being from a Catholic family (although the Flytes are wealthy and we are white trash), I love this book, even as it frustrates me.

  • Fabian
    2019-04-19 08:44

    "Brideshead Revisited" is almost the opposite of "Vile Bodies"/"Bright Young Things" in that it starts off as a tragedy, or at least pretty damn close to E. M. Forster's "Maurice" territory (thus tres tragique) and ends in such a jubilant & comedic form (sorry for this mega old spoiler). It seems to me that Waugh is a master of Contrasts, & it works all too well... the book ends & the reader is deeply disappointed that it does. I practically ignored most of Seattle as I read a paperback version of this brilliant book.It begins and ends at completely different sides of the spectrum: the Oxford years seem idyllic and maudlin, the protagonist has not yet been completely corrupted, though we do become witness to that voyage. The second part completely has Charles being both antagonist and sick voyeur. He does completely nothing to stop the decay around him which culminates, just as in "Vile Bodies", in WW2. All the bourgeois goes under... & the Oxford crowd is forever dismantled. It's drama, comedy, tragedy--all in one! Quite the accomplishment.

  • Diane
    2019-04-25 15:06

    I finished this excellent book weeks ago but I have been stuck on how to review it. I sometimes have problems writing about the books I really like, and I loved this novel. I was familiar with the plot having seen the 2008 movie, but I didn't expect to love the book as much as I did or to get so completely immersed in the story.I even loved the names of the characters: Charles Ryder. Sebastian Flyte. Julia Flyte. Lady Marchmain. I was caught up in each person — I felt Charles' yearning, I understood Sebastian's angst, I admired Julia's sass, and I pitied Lady Marchmain's self-righteousness.There is so much brilliant writing in this novel. Some of my favorite scenes were that first summer with Charles and Sebastian at Brideshead; the comical dinner conversations with Charles' father, who was being deliberately obtuse; the bumblings of Rex Mottram; the lectures from Charles' cousin, Jasper; and the lively conversations with Anthony Blanche. I listened to this on audio, narrated by Jeremy Irons, and it was a superfantasticamazing performance. If you like audio books, I highly recommend seeking out that version.One of my goals is to read more modern classics, and the richness of this novel shows it is definitely worth the effort.Favorite Quotes“I should like to bury something precious in every place where I've been happy and then, when I'm old and ugly and miserable, I could come back and dig it up and remember.” “If you asked me now who I am, the only answer I could give with any certainty would be my name. For the rest: my loves, my hates, down even to my deepest desires, I can no longer say whether these emotions are my own, or stolen from those I once so desperately wished to be.” “But I was in search of love in those days, and I went full of curiosity and the faint, unrecognized apprehension that here, at last, I should find that low door in the wall, which others, I knew, had found before me, which opened on an enclosed and enchanted garden, which was somewhere, not overlooked by any window, in the heart of that grey city.” “The trouble with modern education is you never know how ignorant people are. With anyone over fifty you can be fairly confident what's been taught and what's been left out. But these young people have such an intelligent, knowledgeable surface, and then the crust suddenly breaks and you look down into depths of confusion you didn't know existed.”

  • Aubrey
    2019-04-17 15:52

    2.5/5When I first started reading this book, I was puzzled, lost even in my effort to find what exactly the author was attempting. As time and pages passed, I grew horribly angry with it all, and wondered if I would be able to finish and review the story without a note of fury running through it and wrecking what analysis I could present. Now that I've finished, I find myself saddened by the entire experience. With that in mind, let me explain.This story had a great deal of potential in it, oblique mentions of heartrending stories of religious guilt and tortured shame and individual souls beating themselves bloody on the walls of an uncaring sociocultural framework, and it is largely this potential that kept me going through pages of insipidly flat characters running around, trampling on everyone without the slightest attempt to understand their desires or care about the ones of others. To put it plainly, I loathed every single one of them, the narrator most of all, who made great friends with the one person whose storyline could have redeemed the entire book. Instead of caring the slightest bit for said 'friend', he wasted countless pages on selfish pursuits of 'love' and 'art' and philosophical meanderings that were the most pitifully idiotic things I have seen in a long time. Why is he alone? Why does life pass him by? What is beauty, history, and why has he been driven from Arcadia? Because he's an emotionally stunted git who makes friends and discovers passions and finds love and doesn't care about any of it, or if he does chooses to expound on it in the most unbelievable of ways, drawing upon learning and knowledge that are nothing more than out of character information dumps formatted in purple prose more laughably ridiculous than beautiful (excessive semicolons are not to everyone's taste).And then I thought to myself, wait. It isn't just the narrator that suffers from this, but the entire cast of characters, the whole story even, a whole flat mess of caricatured nonsense that is trying to convey a message in the most contrived of methods. Which means only one thing. This is the author that is failing miserably at delivering, and there's no wonder why.This is the kind of book that English classes would adore, or at least the teachers would, as while the work is not so great in itself, it is the perfect springboard for discussion of all matters of issues. Best of all, the flat characters that drown their passions in meaningless prattle, the obvious distinctions between when the author is droning out plot and when he is attempting to convey themes and meaning, the constant hints at powerful emotions of religious suffering, cultural decay, and sexual deviancy? All perfect material for discussions and essays, as there are barely any obvious overtones for the students could grasp at, a paltry amount of quotes for easy access to what teachers would consider to be "critical thinking". Chances are, this is what the author took away from the classroom, and these are the methodologies by which he chose to write his book.It's disappointing, really, to see the effects of classroom indoctrination in something deemed a classic, which raises the question of what a "classic" really implies. I've read many that are certainly worthy of the title in my mind, novels that pushed and pulled at my sensibilities, opened my mind to gorgeous forms of prose and powerful emotional themes, changed my worldview countless times while managing to achieve the simple goals of making me laugh, cry, feel for characters that I will never truly know but find them as fascinatingly complex nonetheless, regardless of whether they inspire love or hatred. This book, though. It fulfills the aspects required for the average education well enough, and is worthwhile in its own way. But it could have been so much more, and the fact that it isn't is a tragedy in itself.Back when I was still feeling angry with the story, I considered not reading the rest of the author's works that I have added. I've decided that I will, but not for a while, and only for the hope that he made some improvements. It's not his fault that the education concerning literature is not what it could be, and shows itself so plainly in his writing. I can only hope for improvement in the future.

  • Cecily
    2019-03-28 12:45

    Evocative and nostalgic tale, infused with religion and (homo)sexuality, and hence passion, betrayal and guilt. The later part, about Charles and Celia and then Charles and Julia is more subtle, realistic and sad than the light frivolity of Oxford days.Hollinghurst's "The Stranger's Child" has many echoes of this (review here:'s five years since I last read this, but a few ideas that have come back to me by discussing it elsewhere:SEGREGATIONPeople were strongly segregated by class and gender in those days. Not only were the schools (at least, the sort that Charles and Sebastian attended) single-sex, so were the colleges at university. The fact that people of their background were invariably packed off to boarding school from the age of 7 or 8, not returning until the holidays, created segregation from their parents as well. And of course there weren't many scholarship boys to broaden the social mix.HOMOSEXUALITYWhen I first read the book as a naive teenager, I thought the book was somewhat ambiguous about Charles and Sebastian's relationship. As an adult, I have no doubt that it was sexual, but that although Sebastian is gay, Charles is towards the straight end of bisexual: his attraction, nay obsession, is more with the Marchmain family than any individual member of it. Naked male friends sunbathing may seem very gay nowadays, but was less so for Charles and Sebastian in Oxford. Nudism and "health and efficiency" were popular at the time, and there was nothing inherently gay about it. Kafka was a straight man of the period who was an enthusiast.Also, as recently as the early 1980s there was a men-only nudist club on the banks of the river in central Oxford, (in)famously frequented by dons (professors) and clergy. It may still be there, though if so, it might be mixed sex, as the colleges themselves are. If you want to Google it, it was (is?) called Parsons' Pleasure!ALOYSIUS Sebastian takes his teddy bear to Oxford and treats him as a living pet. Although his presence clearly signals a certain immaturity, I suspect that in Sebastian's mind it was at least as much a deliberate ploy to be seen as appealingly eccentric. Apparently this element is based on John Betjeman taking his bear, Archibald Ormsby-Gore, to Oxford ( me, the Church is portrayed pretty negatively, yet some Catholics see it in a more positive light, and Waugh himself converted. I'm not sure whether that reflects a strength or a weakness in Waugh's writing.Even so, how is this for biting satire, when Lady Marchmain is talking to Charles about her wealth and the perception that wealth can interfere with following Christ:"It [being very rich] used to worry me, and I thought it wrong to have so many beautiful things when others had nothing. Now I realize that it is possible for the rich to sin by coveting the privileges of the poor. The poor have always been the favourites of God and his saints, but I believe that is is one of the special achievements of Grace to sanctify the whole of life, riches included."(Book 1, Chapter V, p. 113)BRIDESHEAD, OXFORD AND MEI have many fond associations with this book: I was at secondary school in Oxford (a single-sex school, where I was a boarder), so know the city well, and something of communal, single-sex living. I first read the book and also saw the excellent Granada TV adaptation at that time, and had a bit of a crush on Anthony Andrews (who played Sebastian).

  • Glenn Sumi
    2019-04-25 12:11

    Just as Charles Ryder is seduced by the aristocratic Marchmain family in Brideshead Revisited, I was seduced by Evelyn Waugh’s gorgeous prose, elegy to lost youth and dreams, and the glamorous between the wars setting. The pacing is strange, but it’s hinted at in the subtitle: “The Sacred & Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder.” Memories are sporadic, apt to be uncomprehensive, subjective.Ryder, an officer (“homeless, childless, middle-aged and loveless”), is stationed at the magnificent Brideshead estate, and looks back on how his life has intertwined with many of its members – first the fey, teddy bear-clutching Sebastian, at Oxford, and then, later, with Sebastian’s sister Julia.The family is presided over by the understated but quietly manipulative Lady Marchmain – a terrifying portrait – and gradually Charles learns about all the skeletons rattling away in the family’s enormous closets. He also comprehends what role the devout grand dame wants him to play in helping save Sebastian from a life of drink and debauchery.I know Waugh is best known as a razor sharp satirist, and there are many funny passages and descriptions in this book. (Ryder’s father, for one, is a hoot.) But this is a serious book about big issues: faith, desire, class, loyalty.I had watched the excellent Granada miniseries, so there were few narrative surprises. But Waugh’s prose lived up to its reputation. It’s sophisticated without being pedantic; lyrical without being fussy.And although I knew it was coming, the deathbed scene with Lord Marchmain, a garrulous old man who’s lived outside the Catholic faith for decades, had me on the proverbial edge of my seat. I find it fascinating that Waugh converted to Catholicism later in life. Recent biographies have hinted that he may have been a latent, or not so latent, homosexual. I wonder if these things were related. Many readers get hung up about Charles’s relationship with Sebastian. Was it sexual? There’s this passage: Now, that summer term with Sebastian, it seemed as though I was being given a brief spell of what I had never known, a happy childhood, and though its toys were silk shirts and liqueurs and cigars and its naughtiness high in the catalogue of grave sins, there was something of nursery freshness about us that fell little short of the joy of innocence.I love that impish word, “naughtiness,” especially when contrasted with the sombre “catalogue of grave sins.”Certainly there are gay characters in the book, including the fascinating figure of Anthony Blanche, a flamboyant Wildean character who warns Charles early on about the Marchmains (and he’s pretty accurate).I should add that I read the revised version of the text, with some additions and, apparently, many cuts of florid, overwritten passages. I’m looking forward to reading more Waugh. Based on this book, I could happily, naughtily, become a convert.

  • Camille Stein
    2019-04-23 14:43

    If you asked me now who I am, the only answer I could give with any certainty would be my name. For the rest: my loves, my hates, down even to my deepest desires, I can no longer say whether these emotions are my own, or stolen from those I once so desperately wished to be. ... Perhaps all our loves are merely hints and symbols; vagabond-language scrawled on gate-posts and paving-stones along the weary road that others have tramped before us; perhaps you and I are types and this sadness which sometimes falls between us springs from disappointment in our search, each straining through and beyond the other, snatching a glimpse now and then of the shadow which turns the corner always a pace or two ahead of us. ... The view implicit in my education was that the basic narrative of Christianity had long been exposed as a myth, and that opinion was now divided as to whether its ethical teaching was of present value, a division in which the main weight went against it; religion was a hobby which some people professed and others did not; at the best it was slightly ornamental, at the worst it was the province of 'complexes' and 'inhibitions' - catchwords of the decade - and of the intolerance, hypocrisy and sheer stupidity attributed to it for centuries.

  • Jim Fonseca
    2019-04-19 13:49

    Our narrator, a non-Catholic officer based on the home front in World War II Britain, revisits a mansion he first visited as a young man and reflects back on his close relationship with a Catholic family. A non-Catholic himself, he reports to us about their habits and customs almost as if he were an anthropologist visiting a tribe in the tropical rainforest. Not only are Catholics a minority in Britain, but the Anglican Church is the official state-sponsored religion. It's a great book and, of course, it's been made into a Masterpiece Theater series years ago. There are many reviews of this work already, so just to illustrate the excellent writing, I will just say that I think the romantic episode on an ocean liner during a storm at sea (her husband is absent; his wife is laid up with seasickness) is the most romantic passage I can think of in literature.

  • Lauren G
    2019-04-24 14:58

    '"Light one for me, would you?"It was the first time in my life that anyone had asked this of me, and as I took the cigarette from my lips and put it in hers, I caught a thin bat's squeak of sexuality, inaudible to anyone but me.'This book hit me, hard. I read it for a course in 'Catholic Literature' which was an excuse for my favorite professor to teach a small group of students about his all-time favorite books. He made up the name so he could teach it as a theology/literature course. We read Brideshead, then watched the film version with Jeremy Irons. Growing up immersed in an Anglophile household, I was amazed i'd waited too long to read this masterpiece. I felt their hearts beating in my chest, their losses and gains in love and life my own, and wept for the friendships within these pages (I was 20 when I read it, so, cut some slack). I reread it frequently. It never leaves my side.

  • Jason
    2019-04-09 12:06

    An English novel dating from near the end of World War II, Brideshead Revisited is an elaborate and fascinating reminiscence of a time passed. A novel told in reverie by eyes looking back.At the core of the novel is the friendship between Oxford classmates Charles (the narrator) and Sebastian. One thing separates Charles and Sebastian. Class. A ubiquitous theme in the best English novels, portrayed here as well as it is in any counterpart in English fiction. One thing unites them. Affection. Perhaps love. As told by Waugh, in an also rather English manner, rinsed clean in major part of sexual desire, it is a uniquely, and often painfully, powerful tale of an extraordinarily deep emotional bond and attraction between two men. That the telling is largely sexless only further highlights Waugh's near-perfect conveying of what must be viewed as an abiding, subtextually homosexual devotion of one man toward another. The purity of the emotion -- emotion treated in isolation and confinement -- sets forth on the pages of Brideshead Revisited one of the most moving of connections between two characters in Anglo-American fiction.What ties them together remains steadfast -- through Sebastian's fits and turns, and through Charles' transparent efforts to lead, because he cannot have Sebastian, Sebastian's life.The effect of Waugh's writing is detailed above. The quality of it is more than worthy of note. Brideshead Revisited is, by Waugh, an expertly wrought piece of craftsmanship. Beautiful, subtle, emotive, and witty. At a minimum.If that were not sufficient testament to the greatness of this novel, Sebastian's childlike affection for his teddy bear Aloysius is a clever and, frankly, odd plot insertion, the delight of which is, by my mind, unparalleled in Anglo-American fiction.Brideshead Revisited is a masterpiece.

  • Alex
    2019-04-25 10:58

    "I loathe snobs," says Saul Bellow, "and Waugh is one of the worst sort...but snobbery and piousness?" Saul Bellow can't even. And you see his point. No one in Brideshead Revisited deserves redemption, and yet here it is, with the bullying certainty unique to converts. Evelyn Waugh (he's a dude - here's a pronunciation tutorial) converted to Roman Catholicism at 27, and here we are with one of the great Catholic novels, in no way as subtle or conflicted as the work of fellow convert Graham Greene but just as powerful.Waugh's ability to write cinematic scenes is the strongest since Thomas Hardy's. Brideshead is one of the great locations in literature and, like Manderley in Rebecca, the main character in the book.This isn't how it looked in my head but it is the exact estate Waugh had in mindTop Ten Fictional Locations10. Hogwarts9. Pemberley8. The Snuggery7. The Pequod6. The Moor5. "London"4. Brideshead3. Manderley2. Gatsby's crib1. The Great Green RoomAnd like Nick Carraway from The Great Gatsby, Charles Ryder is one of the great passive narrators, an outsider, an infiltrator. You could make an argument that he's destroying the Flytes one by one, but that's not what Waugh thinks. He's certainly less passive than he first appears. There's this one scene, on a trans-Atlantic boat rolling sickeningly in a storm: "I found myself flung across her pressing her against the rail, warding myself off her with the arms that held her prisoner on either side," and with the spray exploding against the window a woman whispers, "Yes, now," and there's Hardy in all his melodrama and passion. Then Charles totally ruins it by describing what happens next:It was as though a deed of conveyance to her narrow loins had been drawn and sealed. I was making my first entry as the freeholder of a property I would enjoy and develop at my leisure.Don't think Waugh doesn't know what he's doing, giving you literary whiplash like this. He knows. Charles Ryder sucks at sex.To some extent, God fucks up what's otherwise a perfect book. Dipsomaniac Sebastian becomes (view spoiler)[some sort of holy drunk (hide spoiler)]; Julia (view spoiler)[dumps Charles because God (hide spoiler)]; old Marchrain (view spoiler)[converts unconvincingly on his deathbed (hide spoiler)]; Charles himself (view spoiler)[finds God for some fuckin' reason (hide spoiler)]. "The conclusion of Brideshead is as cruel to the nonbeliever and, I imagine, to some believers, as it is repugnant," writes Michael Schmidt, only somewhat overstating things.And yet. The parts that work work so well! There are passages as well-written as anything I've ever come across, whole pages that you flip back and start at the beginning again on, just to prolong the pleasure of reading them. The characters are ambiguous and compelling. This is Waugh's Great Novel, in which he abandoned (mostly) his usual bloody satire and got down to business. It's serious business.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Matthew Klobucher
    2019-04-06 16:12

    Since I first read it, Evelyn Waugh's masterpiece Brideshead Revisited has unequivocally been my favorite book. It's haunting, melancholy, ironically humorous swan song to all that is elegant and beautiful and pure in this world captivated me. It echoed in eloquent, lucid, and devastatingly satiric paragraphs my firm conviction that true Beauty and Love and even God Himself exist not far beyond the pale glitter of a heartless, selfish, utterly apathetic and drear world. It is an ode to the idealism of youth narrated by the voice of a cynical middle-aged man. It is poetry.

  • Kelly
    2019-04-09 09:50

    It is difficult to encapsulate a book which strives to reach for so much over the course of its pages. I'm sure I will miss some things, but perhaps that's best with a book like this. An epic style classic, I mean. There's always something more to dig out of it.The writing style is one of the most striking things about the book, let me just put that out there. This is due to the hodgepodge nature of the thing. The beginning of the book has quite a bit of high Romanticism, of a style more appropriate to the 1840s than the post WWII era- to the point where its utter cheesiness seems out of place, which often gives way to Madox Ford type of prose- unobtrusive, mild, wiltingly despairing, Lost Generation feelings. Towards the end of the book, you get some very modern, intentionally shocking bits and some existentialism. The Romanticism has entirely died. Obviously the choice of styles illustrates the journey of the main character/the main Flyte family through the novel, but I thought it was also an interesting way of encapsulating popular styles of writing that prevailed at the time, particularly in Britain in the interwar era. One of the major points of the book is to give a reading of the English character, and the styles covered many sides of it, I think. As to the story itself, it is a long metaphor for the death of the old way of life in England. A powerful English Catholic family, the Flytes, slowly crumbles from the inside as member by member by member they are struck down into death or into irrelevancy, doomed to live out their days as shadows of their former brilliance, unable to let go of the past or work with the future. The narrator, Charles Ryder, is not one of the family, but he is perfectly placed to see each demise as it occurs. It is a superemely heartbreaking piece as we get to see the crushing of each character's hopes and dreams in excruciating detail. I found myself becoming attached to the family, in spite of how awful and distancing that they could be, so well done to Waugh for that one. It does endow one with a sense of helplessness, though, just like the characters, that there is nothing that really could be done for them, prisoners as they are of ideology, centuries of history, societal expectations, family dramas, repressed (or not so repressed) sexuality, rand of course, and most of all, religion.The Catholic yarn of the novel burns perhaps the brightest of all. It is continually present, even under circumstances that one would believe had no call for it. Which is the point of it. Waugh paints a Catholicism that is everywhere, in everything, allows its followers no freedom, no room to grow and change, nothing entirley of their own, of a Big Brother type God/Church who sees everything. It is an ideology of no escape, which we see several characters- most notably the tragic Sebastian- struggling against. It is a condemnation of the stranglehold that the Church places on human beings, or being human at all. It is the Church, in the end, despite all the helping factors of society, the past, the changing-too-fast present, that ultimately destroys the hopes and dreams of all the main characters. Charles, Sebastian, Julia, Lord Marchmain, Lady Marchmain, all of them. They cannot escape it. Not even Charles, who isn't even a Catholic, but is merely in love with this family infused with it. One of the most constant questions by Charles is, "Do you always talk about religion so much?" or "Why bring God into it?" totally uncomphrending that the family can't get God /out/ of anything. Lady Marchmain stands in for God on Earth, while Sebastian is the hugely flawed Christ character. He's actually something of a cross between Christ and a Drowning Ophelia, but really, in terms of action, is there much difference? Especially since Sebastian is really a Christ of the Jesus in the Garden variety, that is of the "let this cup pass from me," variety. It is said over and over again that he has a calling, that he is holy yet rather heathen, and even he ends up in the embrace of the Church. A pathetic embrace it may be, yet he ends in serving it despite whatever he might have willed or tried to forget through his drunkenness and wandering. Sebastian is the most heartbreakingly beautiful pieces of the story, though he fades out of view in the second half. He still manages to drive the motion, to keep Charles' reluctant love.In the way all the characters end and the total presence of belief, despite not wanting to, I was reminded very strongly of Graham Greene. He made a lot of similiar points (if perhaps more passionately) in The End of the Affair. The final cry of, "God, just leave me alone!" at the end of that novel is echoed on page after page here. I do think that it is done better and with more finesse by Greene, but I will grant that Waugh had a lot more to deal with and probably had to be a bit more crude on this topic.I should also probably mention that there is a very strong homosexual element to the story. Charles spends the first half of the book in love with Sebastian, and the second half chasing the shade of him, his sister Julia. It is presented as a platonic love (at least Waugh mentions nothing about them actually having sex) but nonetheless an obsessive one. He does deal in rather surprisingly explicit detail with other gay relationships in the person of Anthony Blanche, Sebastian's German lover, etc. They even visit gay clubs and there is a lot of very open talk about people being gay. I was surprised by that in a novel published almost 50 years ago, especially one with such a strong Catholic element to it. A lot of people's sexuality is questionable, and the idea of being in love with a person, an idea, more than being sexually attracted to either gender is brought up again and again. Rather progressive for its time, I thought.... okay, I've rather rambled on, haven't I? In sum, very well written, epic, handles a lot more than one would think it could, and I recommend it wholeheartedly. Though, I won't lie, being an anglophile helps to get you through the slower bits and through the rolling your eyes at the cheesy Romanticism and crazy Ophelia characters.Right. Really done now!

  • David
    2019-03-28 07:54

    Disclaimer: The views expressed hereafter by Mr. God's-Love concerning Evelyn Waugh's novel are exclusively his own and should not be interpreted as a disguised or fictionalized representation of my own views. The following, you must understand, is merely an act of reportage. Having not previously read the novel in question, I am ill-equipped to make judgments with respect to the reasonableness of Mr. God's-Love's opinion, although I might point out, relevantly or not, that he has been twice diagnosed by ruddy-faced country physicians as suffering from a terminal case of dementia praecox, as well as from herpes of course and from a rural affliction known colloquially as the Spirit of the Dark One Writhing in the Cerebral Cortex. Nevertheless, I present his views, such as they are and without authorial interference, as a service to the community which currently appears exceptionally in need of servicing.     I had not laid eyes upon Mr. God's-Love since the Winter Solstice festivities, when we supped on dainty fried gristle fingerlings and pickled chestnuts under the most silvery and garish moonlight in which I can ever recall bathing my erect nipples. (But my memory, they say, has grown feeble and occasionally delusional.) Yet... you must try to imagine my surprise when a bearded fellow accosted me -- goosing me suddenly, as if he were nary an apparition suddenly given weight and matter to supply me with that very gluteal rousing which delivered me a good metre up and out of my own flesh!      He resembled no one so much as Merlin Olsen -- only just recently snatched by the hand of the creator like a limp anchovy and stuffed into his gob, whole. Still, if this were a Father Murphy whose jointy fingers tasted the inflection of my buttocks in that onion field, it was surely a revised, semitic version, with a glint of avarice -- outshining, I daresay, the North Star -- and a genetic aptitude for entertainment law practice.      'Good heavens!' said I, quivering and crumpling like an iced hooker. 'Can it truly be that you are the one who, as well as I can rightly remember, did go by the name that I know as nearly and tenderly as mine own mother's who did die from lead poisoning (so much did she enjoy the taste of vintage paint!) and who (now I'm speaking of you and not my mum) has ever earned my greatest esteem -- and not only mine but that of vagrants and filthmongerers the world over -- and is called, so well as I can recall... Mr. God's Love!'     'Yup,' said he. He was on occasion, you see, given to fits of reticence and needed of coaxing, or booze -- whichever was ready-to-hand. 'Check it thusly. I have only just this very moment finished Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited. That chick wrote one fucked-up book, but it's verily as problematic as it is joysome.'     Repulsing his kneading palm from my pert derriere, I then endeavored to inform him that Evelyn Waugh was not so much a bird as a half-gay gentleman who bethought his feces weren't malodorous and that 'joysome' was not by the strictest accounts an actual word. But Mr. God's-Love, an extremist in the most moderate sense of the term, would have none of it.     ''Tis so, fucko,' he rebutted. 'But never mind. This book: Oh, it longs to be beautiful and exceptional, but in the end it takes a good spill in the muck of conservatism and glib generational arrogance. In its finer moments, it ascends to the heights that Proust only dared dream of (so suck it, Proustlover!), but at its lowliest, it's cheap and swindling.'     'Oh, so you're set on three stars -- or perhaps two then?' I inquired of him, stuffing my crested cravat into my glen check vestment dicky which did so ride up on me.      'Four or three,' said he, crushing corn tortilla chips in the elongated central pocket of his zippered and hooded sweatshirt. 'Prolly three. But 'tis a right monstrous thing to decide upon a rating for a tome which is, disparately, abysmal and fucking amazing. I would that one could perform such a thing as a crappendectomy on Brideshead Revisited, and then would I clutch it to my bosom, weep with it, dress it in a tiny sailor uniform, and take it 'round town in a souped-up pram. I would think so much of it then, you understand. But as it is, it evens out somewhere around middling...'     Then did he look up into the night sky and sigh -- once, desperately, longingly -- and he took leave of me, muttering as he did so -- saying, as nearly as I can gather, 'Let me go now, fucko. I am needful presently of a little Steve Miller...'      Thus did it pass.

  • BrokenTune
    2019-04-18 12:08

    Largely regarded as Waugh's best work, Brideshead Revisited is one book I mostly associate with the tv adaptation rather than the book because it has been so long since I read the book that the tv adaptation, with all its visual charm and great acting, obviously left a more recent impression. Yet, I was not a fan of the story itself when watching the production, and from what I remember I could not connect with some of the major themes of the book on my first read. On re-reading the book, I discovered that take on the story, the characters, the writing, or the ideas put forth in the book has changed a little.It was easier to engage with the book now that I have read other books by Waugh and his contemporaries, but at the same time I also found it way more tedious to slog through the last part of the book. Yes, the sadness of the characters is very real and dramatic, but I seem to have less patience now than on my first read for the self-imposed suffering that Waugh's characters take on by insisting that they have to sacrifice their chance of happiness for the sake of religion. At that, for a religious faith which seems to have arrived out of the blue...and with that I also had little patience for Waugh's religious philosophising, which I am sure some readers may see as the essence of quality in this story. For me, it spoilt the story and the character study just as much as Graham Greene's religious theorising spoilt reading his The Power and the Glory or Monsignor Quixote for me. What I would have liked to have had fleshed out a bit more was Sebastian's state of mind. Why did he chose to go into exile? Why did he loose the spirit with which he was described in the opening chapters of the book?Still, despite the short-comings of the book, of which there were a few (including Waugh's casting a couple of stereotyped characters), it is an interesting book and one of Waugh's better one. The opening descriptions of Charles' return to Brideshead, the contracts in the circumstances of his visits, the implied description of the fall of the upper classes, and the unbelievable sadness of Charles' realisation that he has wasted his life is as beautiful as it is harrowing. The only author I have read who has outclassed Waugh in writing about these aspects is Ishiguro ... but if you ask me, he is in a completely different league altogether. Lastly, a note on the audiobook read by Jeremy Irons. It is fabulous!

  • Joe
    2019-04-11 13:04

    Two totally separate, virtually unrelated books with over-the-top narration and no arc. Brideshead Revisited is divided into two books that take place ten years apart from each other. The narrator/main character is almost unrecognizable from one to the other, and no real explanation is given. Is a simpering fool in the first book, and a cold jerk in the second. His main obsession in the first book is almost entirely and perfunctorily absent from the second, and vice versa with his obsession from the second.The writing is laughably intense and painfully overworked. This can work as a device to indicate an important trait of the first person narrator (see Lolita), but here it was clearly Waugh talking and not Ryder.Most annoyingly the climax revolves around a character that is hardly in any other part of the book and the final confrontation between the two main characters limps uninterestingly and flacidly to a point that likely didn't need making.I understand this is one of the best books ever written. I'm not entirely sure why. Maybe the portrayal of life at the time is incredibly accurate and probing. Maybe the way he weaves his absurdly overdrawn paragraphs is seen as revolutionary and impressive. Maybe his ability to make his characters change without any explanation or without making the reader care was thought to be one-of-a-kind.Whatever, critics.

  • James
    2019-04-16 10:59

    In his letter of 7 January 1945 Evelyn Waugh wrote to Nancy Mitford that (regarding Lady Marchmain) "no I am not on her side; but God is, who suffers fools gladly; and the book is about God." Nancy, in a subsequent letter (17 January 1945) commented that she was "immune from" the "subtle" Catholic propaganda supposedly in the novel. Well, I guess that I am in Nancy's camp, recognizing the excellence of this G.E.C. (Great English Classic) and in my own way fascinated by the role of God in it, I remain unmoved by any hidden proselytizing (perhaps too harsh a word). Brideshead Revisited is possibly Evelyn Waugh's greatest novel and certainly one of the best English novels of the twentieth century. The demonstration of the battle between the culture of a civilization dying in the aftermath of World War I and the modern "hollow" culture of the the twentieth century plays out in this drama of a family and their estate, Brideshead. The journey of Charles Ryder, who guides us through this story, from his first encounter with Sebastian Flyte and his first visit to Brideshead keeps the reader rapt until the final pages, when under the shadow of the Second World War Charles returns to Brideshead for a final visit. His growth through encounters with the Flyte children and their mother and father plays out against the background of the Brideshead and all that for which it stands. Waugh uses comic relief in a judicious manner to lighten the way for the reader in a way that keeps the serious themes of the novel from becoming overwhelming. This classic novel also provides a beautiful depiction of the experience of going up to Oxford during the 1920s.Further thoughts: In his letters Waugh claims that the theme of the novel is death, but I am not sure we should trust the author to be completely accurate in that sweeping summary of what appears, upon reading, to be a complicated and thoroughly multi-layered meditation on, yes death, but also memory and loss and the source of spiritual nurturing for human beings. Charles finds his passion in art and is as successful in that endeavor as he is unsuccessful in love. The sadness that surrounds his relationships with the various members of the Marchmain clan mirrors the sadness of their decline. I am reminded of Mann's Buddenbrooks from the turn of the century which limned a not dissimilar family decline. In Brideshead a significant question is whether Charles can overcome his two lost loves--both of whom moved away from him more than he from them--with the love of life that he acquires through art. His journey involves a tumult of emotion and imagery told in such a compelling and magnificent way that it is easy to lose ones self in the prose. Rather than bias the reader I will not provide a conclusion or even hint where I come out with regard to Charles life other than to suggest that, as Eliot once said with poetic grace, the end is there in the beginning.If you like magnificent writing, biting wit, England (Oxford in particular) or Venice, or the serene beauty of traditional manners you will love this book

  • Sue
    2019-04-26 14:08

    4 1/2 * I still can recall watching the original Brideshead on Masterpiece Theater, along with most of my friends at the time. Being enthralled with the actors, performances and story. Charles ryder will always be Jeremy Irons for me. Now I've finally read the book behind that performance and am not at all disappointed. As I settled in to read, I was immediately struck by the language, the period phrasing and speech, and became a bit doubtful as to whether I was actually going to enjoy this book. However, doubt disappeared very quickly each time I resumed reading. Almost immediately I was back in the story, back with Charles and Sebastien or Julia or Charles' rather odd father or the many members of the Marchmain family. As always seems true, there is more depth in the book than what I recall from the film, more to ponder in my relationships with others (though I know no one with such an estate or title). That's what good reading is about and why some books become classics. They tell the tales of friendships won and lost, conflicts over ethics and morals, love and sometimes hate or simply love abandoned.Recommended for readers of classics, period writing 1920s, 1930s British

  • Grace Tjan
    2019-04-25 08:07

    BRIDESHEAD REVISITEDThere was once a noble house called BridesheadOf sacred and profane memoriesSeat of the last of the MarchmainsAn ancient pile with a false domeWhere painted classical deities cavortedReflected in gilt mirrors Echoed in carved marblesThe chapel was Art NouveauThe drawing room ChinoiserieAnd the whole thing flanked by colonnades and pavilionsLady Marchmain was a lady of religionPerpetually at her Matins, Lauds and VespersLord Marchmain had long fled the magnificent coopTo live large across the continent with a paramourThe heir Lord Brideshead an ineffectual matchbox collectorThe spare Sebastian doomed to waste in foreign landsSebastian who brushed his teddy bear Aloysius with an ivory combAnd who took his lover Charles homeTo meet his sisters:Pretty and flighty Lady JuliaWith her flawless quattrocento beautyAnd plain jane Lady CordeliaWho went to Spain to minister to the rebelsCharles was a strange cold fishA painter of crumbling manorsWho forsook his wife and childrenTo gallivant across the AmericasTo search for inspirationAmong llamas and lianasBeguiled, ensnaredBy both Sebastian and JuliaBoth loves doomed by divine retributionThe tale told in exquisitely wrought proseWith penetrating intelligenceAnd deftness for conjuring vivid charactersBut what about the scarcely believable denouement?Abrupt and curiously unexaminedAnd must we mourn the passing of the Marchmains soDissolute aristocrats with nothing to do?ET IN ARCADIA EGO

  • booklady
    2019-03-26 10:56

    On the surface it's a book about two friends, the narrator, Charles Ryder, and his wonderful, but bizarre friend, Lord Sebastian Flyte. Eventually Charles befriends the entire Flyte family and it's this unusual friendship as well as the other relationships -- as they evolve over the course of many years -- which form the basis of the novel. But actually it's a story about the difficulty of being a practicing Roman Catholic aristocrat in England in the 1930s. Charles, an agnostic, doesn't understand when he meets Sebastian and his diverse family why or how anyone's religion could matter so much but as he comes to know the Flytes and sees how each grapples with his/her faith in a hostile environment, he learns. Waugh, a convert himself, was undoubtedly writing from personal experience. It's a brave novel--at first hopeful, seeming to sink into the depths of sin, but then rising again; a story of 'revisiting', forgiveness, homecoming, conversion and ultimately redemption. One of my all-time favorites!This reading date is only one of the many times I've read this. Started: 24 March 1998

  • Tim
    2019-04-15 08:46

    “My theme is memory, that winged host.” There’s a haunting elegiac beauty to this novel which maybe makes it seem a little better than it really is. The writing is gorgeous, especially when Waugh is dealing with the passing of time. He’s rather like the English Fitzgerald in this book – the nostalgia for youth and high emotion, the mourning an era which he beautifully romanticises and painting what follows as grey and turgid. The characters are all brilliantly conceived and drawn, uniquely memorable and contributing vital current to the book’s plot. It’s also a fascinating study of Catholicism and the nature of faith. Socially it’s an extremely conservative novel. Waugh does not like change but it’s this stubborn conservatism that allows him to create such a powerful atmosphere of heartbreaking nostalgia.

  • Inderjit Sanghera
    2019-04-06 16:00

    ‘Brideshead Revisited’ is the story of Charles Ryder and his relationship with the aristocratic Flyte family; the whimsical yet troubled Sebastian, the glacial and remote Julia and the austere older brother Bridey. The novel in many ways reflects Charles’s eventual vocation as a (utterly mediocre) painter of aristocratic buildings and domiciles which will soon be consigned to the vestiges of history, so Charles attempts to capture the fading aristocracy before their inevitable decline. However the reader is constantly left wondering whether the indolent, selfish and ultimately shallow lives of the Flyte family is worth capturing or remembering remembering-clearly Waugh is of the opinion that the refined world of aristocracy was about to be taken over by the vulgar and vapid world of the bourgeoisie-their perceived quirks and eccentricities which so seduce Charles mask the insipidity of their inner lives and the tediousness of their self-absorption.Charles, however, is able to paint some pretty little images throughout the novel, capturing the indolence and effervescence of his time with Sebastian in Venice; “On some days life kept pace with the gondola, as we nosed through the side-canals and the boatman uttered his plaintive musical bird-cry of warning; on other days with the speed-boat bouncing over the lagoon in a stream of sun-lit foam; it left a confused memory of fierce sunlight on the sand and cool marble interiors, of water everywhere, lapping on smooth stone, reflected in the dapple of light on painted ceilings”Or of the incandescent and unreachable beauty of Julia;“There Julia sat, in a tight little golden tunic and white gown, one hand in the water idly turning an emerald ring to catch the fire of the sunset; the carved animals mounted over her dark head in a cumulus of green moss and glowing stone and dense shadow, and the waters round them flashed and bubbled into broken flames”Yet there is hollowness behind the feeling of emptiness which pervades the novel, the love which Charles feels for the different members of the Flyte family fail to resonate very far outside the echo chamber of the narrator’s head.

  • Nigeyb
    2019-04-05 10:44

    An absorbing and sumptuous eulogy for the end of the golden age of the British aristocracy. Beautifully written and with so much to enjoy: faith and - in particular - Catholicism, duty, love, desire, grandeur, decay, memory, and tragedy. At its heart there is a beautiful and enchanting story. The various characters, right down to the most minor ones, are stunningly and credibly drawn - having just finished the book I feel that I have been amongst them and known them. I have read most of Evelyn Waugh's novels and this is his finest*. If you haven't read it yet I envy you.*EDIT: Sword of Honour runs it a very close second. I also heartily recommend reading Mad World: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead by Paula Byrne which gives lots of helpful background information about Brideshead Revisited. I was amazed at the extent to which it was based on Evelyn Waugh's own experiences and those of people he knew. Click here to read my review

  • Sarah
    2019-04-04 08:53

    This is one of the two books I tend to read at least once a year (the other one is Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov). I've probably read it at least 25 times and I get something new from it every time. He's one of those writers who makes the English language sound decadent and beautiful.It definitely contains the single best passage about food that I've ever seen - the scene with Charles Ryder and Rex Mottram eating pressed duck and caviar blinis in a little restaurant in London. The way he writes about the caviar, coated in cream and butter, is like pornography, only classy.There's a lot going on in this book. The stilted, repressed love story between Charles and the corrupt, gorgeous, alcoholic Sebastian. Charles, coming from such a grim, ugly family and dull background, stumbling on a different world, so glamorous and beautiful and mysterious, like Avalon, and losing it again, and pining for it for the rest of his repressed, dull British life. Repressed and not-so-repressed homosexuality everywhere you look. The descriptions of the supper parties at Oxford, with Sebastian holding forth and serving plover's eggs to a group of young, sybaritic men. The byronic, queeny Anthony Blanche drinking Brandy Alexanders and shocking the bourgeousie. And the whole book is set on an undercurrent of Catholicism. Julia Flyte, with the pet tortoise Rex gave her as a gift, with her initials set in diamonds into the shell.... It's a heartbreaking, beautiful, strangely existential book, and I love it.

  • Jasmine
    2019-04-09 11:09

    'Just the place to bury a crock of gold’ said Sebastian. ‘I should like to bury something precious in every place where I’ve been happy and then when I was old and ugly and miserable, I could come back and dig and remember.’ (p. 20)This is a book about remembrance – of lost and betrayed relationships, vanished glory and the reminiscence of a disappearing world. Beautiful...

  • S©aP
    2019-03-31 15:03

    «Mio tema è la memoria, ospite alata (...) Questi ricordi, che sono la mia vita - poiché nulla possediamo con certezza tranne il passato - non mi hanno mai lasciato. Come i piccioni di Piazza S. Marco erano ovunque, in mezzo ai piedi, da soli, a coppie...» I romanzi sono come gli abiti che proviamo a indossare: ve ne sono alcuni che ci si attagliano all'istante; ci piace come vestono, come "cadono", e troviamo eleganti, originali su di noi, i loro piccoli difetti. Non esiste l'abito perfetto, né il romanzo perfetto. Esistono però gli abiti, e i romanzi, esatti per noi e per l'occasione. Qui ho trovato il garbo, quella calma anglosassone che a me appare rispettosa anziché fredda. Affilata quando occorre. Ho trovato evocazione e senso del tempo. Ironia celata. Melanconia più che malinconia. Modernità assoluta (non solo per il tempo in cui fu scritto). Consapevolezza, non ostentata. E disinvoltura. La narrazione scorre. Interseca situazioni scabrose senza cedere a lusinghe voyeuristiche. Tocca argomenti scottanti, socialmente imponenti, senza distrarre, né lasciarsi distrarre dalla sterilità della polemica. Afferma senza dire. Avanza con decisione e tatto. Osserva il tempo nel suo insieme. Racconta il ricordo con soavità disillusa. E di quando in quando si abbandona a un profumo di poesia. Gran diletto. Per me. Ora.«[Sebastian] Era incantevole, di quella bellezza ambigua che nell'estrema giovinezza è un inno all'amore e che sfiorisce al primo vento gelido.»Grazie Stela, amica mia, per l'invito alla lettura.

  • Elizabeth
    2019-04-14 09:46

    Wow, this book was dark. I've seen the movies and from those conjured up a story that had this dreamy quality of submerged attraction and envy--decorated with elegant old houses. But Brideshead Revisited the novel took me to a very dark and disturbing place. To me, the pieces that shone were the broken fragments of relationships: Charles and his horrible father, and the oppressive mother and Sebastian. Waugh deftly shows these strange, decaying bonds in a way that sticks with you, haunts you. I've always appreciated him as a writer; his dialogue is so facile it seems contemporary, his descriptions surprising, his characters unique and layered. The fall into adultery while aboard transcontinental ship in the midst of a storm was masterful piece of writing. The protagonist's emotional descent became heightened with almost a physical sensation of disorientation. I felt literally sea sick afterwards. I'm not really sure how to sum up what to share about this book. I'm not sure I liked it in the sense that it made me happy after I read it. But I did appreciate that it pulled me in and took me to another place. I feel really sad now.

  • Shovelmonkey1
    2019-04-25 07:45

    Absolutely loved this, and am finding that despite my original half-arse preconceptions I have enjoyed a lot of books from this historical time period. Is this a sign I am developing discerning taste? Am I becoming more open minded? Doubtful, but I can only live in hope and keep on with the mind expanding forays into the more classic side literature. This will not stop me reading trashy smut as well but it means I look more high brow at least 50% of the time.On the whole Brideshead Revisited is much better than Vile Bodies possibly because it got the fantastic subtitle of "The Sacred and Profane memories of Captain Charles Ryder" and lets face it, everyone likes a good bit of profanity. Following the trials and tribulations of the noble Marchmain family and their various hangers-on. There's a lot of references to religion in this and it lacks the bright and brittle spirit of some of his other work but maybe that just adds gravitas rather than detracting from it. I liked it so much I am putting it into my permenant collection, rather than releasing it through which is a high mark of my esteem as normally I shunt books out the door as fast as possible in order to get more onto the shelves. Evelyn Waugh I salute you - you've got a space on the shelf.

  • Edan
    2019-04-10 09:08

    I know it's terrible to admit this--but I didn't dig Brideshead Revisited. Well, I did, at first: I liked the descriptions of Oxford after WWI, and Sebastian with his teddy bear named Aloysius (really, if someone had told me about the bear I would've read this novel years ago!). But then the story just meandered and hemmed and hawed through years and years. I found the narrator dull, and his relationship to Julia just didn't matter to me. I had no interest in the Catholic themes, which the entire novel rests on. Also, Waugh's extended metaphors started to bug me, whereas at first I was quite taken by them. I think I was hoping for a Somerset Maugham book, even though Maugham's time was earlier. Alas.