Brideshead Revisited

Brideshead Revisited

by Evelyn Waugh


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Waugh tells the story of the Marchmain family. Aristocratic, beautiful and charming, the Marchmains are indeed a symbol of England and her decline in this novel of the upper class of the 1920s and the abdication of responsibility in the 1930s.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316216456
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Publication date: 12/11/2012
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 54,101
Product dimensions: 5.62(w) x 8.25(h) x 1.12(d)

About the Author

Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966), whom Time called "one of the century's great masters of English prose," wrote several widely acclaimed novels as well as volumes of biography, memoir, travel writing, and journalism. Three of his novels, A Handful of Dust, Scoop, and Brideshead Revisited, were selected by the Modern Library as among the 100 best novels of the twentieth century.

Date of Birth:

October 28, 1903

Date of Death:

April 10, 1966

Place of Birth:

West Hampstead, London


Hertford College, Oxford University, 1921-1924; Heatherley's Art School, 1924

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

"I HAVE been here before," I said; I had been there before; first with Sebastian more than twenty years ago on a cloudless day in June, when the ditches were white with fool's-parsley and meadowsweet and the air heavy with all the scents of summer; it was a day of peculiar splendour, such as our climate affords once or twice a year, when leaf and flower and bird and sun-lit stone and shadow seem all to proclaim the glory of God; and though I had been there so often, in so many moods, it was to that first visit that my heart returned on this, my latest.

That day, too, I had come not knowing my destination. It was Eights Week. Oxford - submerged now and obliterated, irrecoverable as Lyonnesse, so quickly have the waters come flooding in - Oxford, in those days, was still a city of aquatint. In her spacious and quiet streets men walked and spoke as they had done in Newman's day; her autumnal mists, her grey springtime, and the rare glory of her summer days - such as that day - when the chestnut was in flower and the bells rang out high and clear over her gables and cupolas, exhaled the soft vapours of a thousand years of learning. It was this cloistral hush which gave our laughter its resonance, and carried it still, joyously, over the intervening clamour. Here, discordantly, in Eights Week, came a rabble of womankind, some hundreds strong, twittering and fluttering over the cobbles and up the steps, sight-seeing and pleasure-seeking, drinking claret cup, eating cucumber sandwiches; pushed in punts about the river, herded in droves to the college barges; greeted in the Isis and in the Union by a sudden display of peculiar, facetious, wholly distressing Gilbert-and-Sullivan badinage, and by peculiar choral effects in the college chapels. Echoes of the intruders penetrated every corner, and in my own college was no echo, but an original fount of the grossest disturbance. We were giving a ball. The front quad, where I lived, was floored and tented; palms and azaleas were banked round the porter's lodge; worst of all, the don who lived above me, a mouse of a man connected with the Natural Sciences, had lent his rooms for a Ladies' Cloakroom, and a printed notice proclaiming this outrage hung not six inches from my oak.

No one felt more strongly about it than my scout.

"Gentlemen who haven't got ladies are asked as far as possible to take their meals out in the next few days," he announced despondently. "Will you be lunching in?"

"No, Lunt."

"So as to give the servants a chance, they say. What a chance! I've got to buy a pin-cushion for the Ladies' Cloakroom. What do they want with dancing? I don't see the reason in it. There never was dancing before in Eights Week. Commem. now is another matter being in the vacation, but not in Eights Week as if teas and the river wasn't enough. If you ask me, sir, it's all on account of the war. It couldn't have happened but for that." For this was 1923 and for Lunt, as for thousands of others, things could never be the same as they had been in 1914. "Now wine in the evening," he continued, as was his habit, half in and half out of the door, "or one or two gentlemen to luncheon, there's reason in. But not dancing. It all came in with the men back from the war. They were too old and they didn't know and they wouldn't learn. That's the truth. And there's some even goes dancing with the town at the Masonic - but the proctors will get them, you see. . . . Well, here's Lord Sebastian. I mustn't stand here talking when there's pin-cushions to get."

Sebastian entered - dove-grey flannel, white crepe-de-chine, a Charvet tie, my tie as it happened, a pattern of postage stamps - "Charles, what in the world's happening at your college? Is there a circus? I've seen everything except elephants. I must say the whole of Oxford has become most peculiar suddenly. Last night it was pullulating with women. You're to come away at once, out of danger. I've got a motor-car and a basket of strawberries and a bottle of Ch�teau Peyraguey - which isn't a wine you've ever tasted, so don't pretend. It's heaven with strawberries."

"Where are we going?"

"To see a friend."


"Name of Hawkins. Bring some money in case we see anything we want to buy. The motor-car is the property of a man called Hardcastle. Return the bits to him if I kill myself; I'm not very good at driving."

Beyond the gate, beyond the winter garden that was once the lodge, stood an open, two-seater Morris-Cowley. Sebastian's Teddy-bear sat at the wheel. We put him between us - "Take care he's not sick" - and drove off. The bells of St. Mary's were chiming nine; we escaped collision with a clergyman, black-straw-hatted, white-bearded, pedalling quietly down the wrong side of the High Street, crossed Carfax, passed the station, and were soon in open country on the Botley Road; open country was easily reached in those days.

"Isn't it early?" said Sebastian. "The women are still doing whatever women do to themselves before they come downstairs. Sloth has undone them. We're away. God bless Hardcastle."

"Whoever he may be."

"He thought he was coming with us. Sloth undid him too. Well, I did tell him ten. He's a very gloomy man in my college. He leads a double life. At least I assume he does. He couldn't go on being Hardcastle, day and night, always, could he? Or he'd die of it. He says he knows my father, which is impossible."


"No one knows Papa. He's a social leper. Hadn't you heard?"

"It's a pity neither of us can sing," I said.

At Swindon we turned off the main road and, as the sun mounted high, we were among dry-stone walls and ashlar houses. It was about eleven when Sebastian, without warning, turned the car into a cart track and stopped. It was hot enough now to make us seek the shade. On a sheep-cropped knoll under a clump of elms we ate the strawberries and drank the wine - as Sebastian promised, they were delicious together - and we lit fat, Turkish cigarettes and lay on our backs, Sebastian's eyes on the leaves above him, mine on his profile, while the blue-grey smoke rose, untroubled by any wind, to the blue-green shadows of foliage, and the sweet scent of the tobacco merged with the sweet summer scents around us and the fumes of the sweet, golden wine seemed to lift us a finger's breadth above the turf and hold us suspended.

"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 it up and remember."

This was my third term since matriculation, but I date my Oxford life from my first meeting with Sebastian, which had happened, by chance, in the middle of the term before. We were in different colleges and came from different schools; I might well have spent my three or four years in the University and never have met him, but for the chance of his getting drunk one evening in my college and of my having ground-floor rooms in the front quadrangle.

I had been warned against the dangers of these rooms by my cousin Jasper, who alone, when I first came up, thought me a suitable subject for detailed guidance. My father offered me none. Then, as always, he eschewed serious conversation with me. It was not until I was within a fortnight of going up that he mentioned the subject at all; then he said, shyly and rather slyly: "I've been talking about you. I met your future Warden at the Athen�um. I wanted to talk about Etruscan notions of immortality; he wanted to talk about extension lectures for the working-class; so we compromised and talked about you. I asked him what your allowance should be. He said, 'Three hundred a year; on no account give him more; that's all most men have.' I thought that a deplorable answer. I had more than most men when I was up, and my recollection is that nowhere else in the world and at no other time, do a few hundred pounds, one way or the other, make so much difference to one's importance and popularity. I toyed with the idea of giving you six hundred," said my father, snuffling a little, as he did when he was amused, "but I reflected that, should the Warden come to hear of it, it might sound deliberately impolite. So I shall give you five hundred and fifty."

I thanked him.

"Yes, it's indulgent of me, but it all comes out of capital, you know. . . . I suppose this is the time I should give you advice. I never had any myself except once from your cousin Alfred. Do you know in the summer before I was going up, your cousin Alfred rode over to Boughton especially to give me a piece of advice? And do you know what that advice was? 'Ned,' he said, 'there's one thing I must beg of you. Always wear a tall hat on Sundays during term. It is by that, more than anything, that a man is judged.' And do you know," continued my father, snuffling deeply, "I always did? Some men did, some didn't. I never saw any difference between them or heard it commented on, but I always wore mine. It only shows what effect judicious advice can have, properly delivered at the right moment. I wish I had some for you, but I haven't."

My cousin Jasper made good the loss; he was the son of my father's elder brother, to whom he referred more than once, only half facetiously, as "the Head of the Family"; he was in his fourth year and, the term before, had come within appreciable distance of getting his rowing blue; he was secretary of the Canning and president of the J.C.R. - a considerable person in college. He called on me formally during my first week and stayed to tea; he ate a very heavy meal of honey-buns, anchovy toast and Fuller's walnut cake, then he lit his pipe and, lying back in the basket-chair, laid down the rules of conduct which I should follow; he covered most subjects; even to-day I could repeat much of what he said, word for word. ". . . You're reading History? A perfectly respectable school. The very worst is English Literature and the next worst is Modern Greats. You want either a first or a fourth. There is no value in anything between. Time spent on a good second is time thrown away. You should go to the best lectures - Arkwright on Demosthenes for instance - irrespective of whether they are in your school or not. . . . Clothes. Dress as you do in a country house. Never wear a tweed coat and flannel trousers - always a suit. And go to a London tailor; you get better cut and longer credit. . . . Clubs. Join the Carlton now and the Grid at the beginning of your second year. If you want to run for the Union - and it's not a bad thing to do - make your reputation outside first, at the Canning or the Chatham, and begin by speaking on the paper. . . . Keep clear of Boar's Hill . . ." The sky over the opposing gables glowed and then darkened; I put more coal on the fire and turned on the light, revealing in their respectability his London-made plus fours and his Leander tie. . . . "Don't treat dons like schoolmasters; treat them as you would the vicar at home. . . . You'll find you spend half your second year shaking off the undesirable friends you made in your first. . . . Beware of the Anglo-Catholics - they're all sodomites with unpleasant accents. In fact, steer clear of all the religious groups; they do nothing but harm. . . ."

Finally, just as he was going, he said, "One last point. Change your rooms." They were large, with deeply recessed windows and painted, eighteenth-century panelling; I was lucky as a freshman to get them. "I've seen many a man ruined through having ground-floor rooms in the front quad," said my cousin with deep gravity. "People start dropping in. They leave their gowns here and come and collect them before hall; you start giving them sherry. Before you know where you are, you've opened a free bar for all the undesirables of the college."

I do not know that I ever, consciously, followed any of this advice. I certainly never changed my rooms; there were gillyflowers growing below the windows which on summer evenings filled them with fragrance.

It is easy, retrospectively, to endow one's youth with a false precocity or a false innocence; to tamper with the dates marking one's stature on the edge of the door. I should like to think - indeed I sometimes do think - that I decorated those rooms with Morris stuffs and Arundel prints and that my shelves were filled with seventeenth-century folios and French novels of the second empire in Russia-leather and watered-silk. But this was not the truth. On my first afternoon I proudly hung a reproduction of Van Gogh's "Sunflowers" over the fire and set up a screen, painted by Roger Fry with a Proven�al landscape, which I had bought inexpensively when the Omega workshops were sold up. I displayed also a poster by McKnight Kauffer and Rhyme Sheets from the Poetry Bookshop, and, most painful to recall, a porcelain figure of Polly Peachum which stood between black tapers on the chimney-piece. My books were meagre and commonplace - Roger Fry's Vision and Design; the Medici Press edition of A Shropshire Lad; Eminent Victorians; some volumes of Georgian Poetry; Sinister Street; and South Wind - and my earliest friends fitted well into this background; they were Collins, a Wykehamist, an embryo don, a man of solid reading and childlike humour, and a small circle of college intellectuals, who maintained a middle course of culture between the flamboyant "�sthetes" and the proletarian scholars who scrambled fiercely for facts in the lodging houses of the Iffley Road and Wellington Square. It was by this circle that I found myself adopted during my first term; they provided the kind of company I had enjoyed in the sixth form at school, for which the sixth form had prepared me; but even in the earliest days, when the whole business of living at Oxford, with rooms of my own and my own cheque book, was a source of excitement, I felt at heart that this was not all that Oxford had to offer.

At Sebastian's approach these grey figures seemed quietly to fade into the landscape and vanish, like highland sheep in the misty heather. Collins had exposed the fallacy of modern �sthetics to me: ". . . The whole argument from Significant Form stands or falls by volume. If you allow C�zanne to represent a third dimension on his two-dimensional canvas, then you must allow Landseer his gleam of loyalty in the spaniel's eye" - but it was not until Sebastian, idly turning the page of Clive Bell's Art, read: "'does anyone feel the same kind of emotion for a butterfly or a flower that he feels for a cathedral or a picture?' Yes. I do," that my eyes were opened.

I knew Sebastian by sight long before I met him. That was unavoidable for, from his first week, he was the most conspicuous man of his year by reason of his beauty, which was arresting, and his eccentricities of behaviour which seemed to know no bounds. My first sight of him was as we passed in the door of Germer's, and, on that occasion, I was struck less by his looks than by the fact that he was carrying a large Teddy-bear.

"That," said the barber, as I took his chair, "was Lord Sebastian Flyte. A most amusing young gentleman."

"Apparently," I said coldly.

"The Marquis of Marchmain's second boy. His brother, the Earl of Brideshead, went down last term. Now he was very different, a very quiet gentleman, quite like an old man. What do you suppose Lord Sebastian wanted? A hair brush for his Teddy-bear; it had to have very stiff bristles, not, Lord Sebastian said, to brush him with, but to threaten him with a spanking when he was sulky. He bought a very nice one with an ivory back and he's having 'Aloysius' engraved on it - that's the bear's name." The man, who, in his time, had had ample chance to tire of undergraduate fantasy, was plainly captivated by him. I, however, remained censorious and subsequent glimpses of Sebastian, driving in a hansom cab and dining at the George in false whiskers, did not soften me, although Collins, who was reading Freud, had a number of technical terms to cover everything.

Nor, when at last we met, were the circumstances propitious. It was shortly before midnight in early March; I had been entertaining the college intellectuals to mulled claret; the fire was roaring, the air of my room heavy with smoke and spice, and my mind weary with metaphysics. I threw open my windows and from the quad outside came the not uncommon sounds of bibulous laughter and unsteady steps. A voice said: "Hold up"; another, "Come on"; another, "Plenty of time . . . House . . . till Tom stops ringing"; and another, clearer than the rest, "D'you know I feel most unaccountably unwell. I must leave you a minute," and there appeared at my window the face I knew to be Sebastian's - but not as I had formerly seen it, alive and alight with gaiety; he looked at me for a moment with unseeing eyes and then, leaning forward well into the room, he was sick.

It was not unusual for dinner parties to end in that way; there was in fact a recognized tariff on such occasions for the comfort of the scout; we were all learning, by trial and error, to carry our wine. There was also a kind of insane and endearing orderliness about Sebastian's choice, in his extremity, of an open window. But, when all is said, it remained an unpropitious meeting.

Customer Reviews

Brideshead Revisited 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 88 reviews.
Galina More than 1 year ago
This is truly my favorite book. It's like a world all of it's own, and I became very attached to that world almost immediately. Very poignant and mesmerizing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book, it unfolds characters, plots and scenery slowly but intensively. The book may seemed thick, but time simply passed by unnoticed once I started to read it. Brideshead Revisited describes an atmosphere that's gone forever; I sometimes think of it as a social-study textbook from college, but it is a tantalizing and charming read.
ashton372 More than 1 year ago
What could I possibly add that hasn't been stated, and stated better, about this classic? It is beautifully written...the prose is of another time, when conversation was carefully considered. If you want your novels to have a conversational tone reflecting the 21st century, it is not for you. The Everyman's Library books are beautifully made, fit wonderfully in one's hand, and are very affordable. I don't know about you, but I can't stand the feeling of a paperback (mass markets particularly).
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of two books that I recommend to everyone I speak to if the subject of liturature comes up. The other being Thomas Hardys: Far From the Maddening Crowd.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A novel on life and people. The good, the bad, the ugly and beautiful.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Charles Ryder is a character a lot of young people today (like myself) can relate his skeptisism, if not disdain, for the professed beliefs of his Catholic family. Through a series of relationships each slightly deeper than the last he ultimately seems to find that the object of his affection in any relationship will not quench some innate human desire and so it must be cast aside for a more difficult but deeply divine relationship with the God he so disdained. Interesting because in today's world as perpetual students we continuously question all aspects of life in search of sensibility rather than the sentimentality that Charles originally assumes faith to be. Hmm...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book, which takes place in England between the Wars, follows the fortunes of the Marchmains, a disfunctional upper class family, as seen through the eyes of a young family friend, Charles Ryder. I listened to this on audiobook, read by Jeremy Irons, who co-starred in the PBS mini-series. I've listened to quite a few audiobooks, and Irons is undoubtedly the best reader I've heard. He does dozens of characters in this work and he voices each one distinctly and very convincingly. I would definitely recommend this version of an excellent book.
Cybercuichi More than 1 year ago
So much has been wrote about Evelyn Waugh, and specially Brideshead Revisited The sacred and profane memories of Captain Charles Ryder. It is of little substance to add anything new, a marvelous little book full of flowing lyricism, and delicate sensibilities of an age bygone, in reality the subject matter is of little importance, and doesn't amount to much, if you want to be objective, however the mastery of construction, the economy of words, and phrases that convey such beauty, has brought me time, and again, to reread this book. I love the hardcover of Everyman Library. Highly recommended as an indulgent pleasure, akin to a good glass of wine, or a delicious rich dessert.
Abbie09 More than 1 year ago
This book was just OK in my opinion. It was interesting in the beginning and it had some "hold your breath moments" but on the whole it wasn't that great. Actually, towards the end I found it kind of boring.
atimco on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The first thing you ought to know about Brideshead Revisited is that its author, Evelyn Waugh, is a man. I forget how I found that out, but it¿s a tricky little thing for English majors who might accidentally talk about the man as if he were a woman, and thus expose their ignorance. Instead, now you can feel smug that you won't be fooled by the first name.Waugh reads like a masculine Daphne du Maurier, sensitive and atmospheric. I listened to this story on audiobook, read by Jeremy Irons, who also played in the 1981 adaptation as Charles Ryder. I have not seen any film/TV adaptations of this story, but I have heard that they differ widely from the book. For this audiobook, Irons' reading is superb, and he gently teases out all the poetic nuances of the language. He also gives each character a distinct voice, which is harder than it sounds. The story itself is rather loose and follows the lives of the Marchmains, a well-to-do Catholic family in post World War I England. They are seen through the eyes of their friend Charles Ryder, our narrator, who becomes friends with the second son, Sebastian, at Oxford. Slowly their lives unfold against the bigger backdrop of world events, culminating with World War II. We start off with Charles¿ experiences in the war and the rest of the book tells us how he came to that point. And yet it isn¿t about him, really. It¿s about the Marchmain family.The characters are all very complex and carefully drawn, and the relationships between them are fascinating. There is Lady Marchmain, that calm, seraphic woman, unshakeable but somehow threatening in her faith; Julia, the stylish and ambitious daughter of the house; Brideshead, the oldest son whose face looks like it was carved by an Aztec artist; Cordelia, the precocious youngest daughter; and Lord Marchmain, who has lived abroad with his mistress since World War I. And there is Sebastian, of course, a figure of fun at Oxford with his teddy bear Aloysius, but later a tragic character, tangled in his own bonds. We learn about Charles himself bit by bit and only really in light of the bigger story he is telling of the Marchmains. Most of the time Charles is very laconic, but other times something breaks loose and he launches into lyrical prose, flying higher and higher on the wings of semi-colons and commas. It sounds funny put like that, but it reads powerfully because Waugh has something to say. I found it wonderful to listen to. If I had to pin down an overarching theme in this book, it would be the slow, inescapable return to God. The Roman Catholicism of the Marchmain family is examined from every angle. Charles is agnostic and later comes to see it as a threat. Sebastian, Julia, and Cordelia all talk at some point in the novel about their religious upbringing and its long, tolling echoes in their lives. I really enjoyed Waugh's poetic style. There are some wonderful, thought-provoking passages in this book: ¿How ungenerously in later life we disclaim the virtuous moods of our youth, living in retrospect long, summer days of unreflecting dissipation, Dresden figures of pastoral gaiety! Our wisdom, we prefer to think, is all of our own gathering, while, if truth be told, it is, most of it, the last coin of a legacy that dwindles with time.¿ (p. 62)¿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 breaks and you look down into depths of confusion you didn¿t know existed.¿ (p. 193)¿Perhaps, I thought, as her words still hung in the air between us like a wisp of tobacco smoke ¿ a thought to fade and vanish like smoke without a trace ¿ perhaps all our lives are merely hints and symbols; a hill of many invisible crests; doors that open as in a dream to reveal only a further stretch of carpet and another door; perhaps you and I are
sherriey on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
** spoiler alert ** When I picked this up from the library, I was delighted to find that it was narrated by Jeremy Irons. He is an incredible actor and I think that his contribution to this book made me like it even more. I watched the movie adaptation of this a couple months ago, just on a whim. The movie pretty much bored me to tears, so I was not sure how the book would be. I enjoyed the novel so much more, there was so much more to the story that was not adapted in the movie. Anyway, on to th...more When I picked this up from the library, I was delighted to find that it was narrated by Jeremy Irons. He is an incredible actor and I think that his contribution to this book made me like it even more. I watched the movie adaptation of this a couple months ago, just on a whim. The movie pretty much bored me to tears, so I was not sure how the book would be. I enjoyed the novel so much more, there was so much more to the story that was not adapted in the movie. Anyway, on to the book. I truly enjoyed the story of Sebastian, sad as it may be. Sebastian was such an interesting character, and I actually found that after he dropped out of the story, I was not quite as interested in the rest of the Flyte family's affairs. I felt Charles was so self absorbed and I could not believe his attitude towards his children - what a pompous ass! The affair between Julia and Charles was so brief and uninteresting to me. I did enjoy the religious themes throughout the book and had to give Julia kudos in the end for sticking to her morals and not marrying Charles. I also enjoyed the peripheral characters of Cordelia and Nanny Hawkins. So much to enjoy in this book, I'm glad I listened to the audio version so that I could enjoy each nuance.
Seager on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this recently for the first time. It is hard not to be overwhelmed with the memory of the TV adaptation but still, this is not a great novel in my opinion. Of course Waugh writes like a dream, he is a great writer for sure. But this book doesn't seem to me to be as great as its reputation might have it.The author seems to have an odd attitude to Roman Catholicism. Part admiring and part despising. Neither of these attitudes actually help him make these characters real. The Flytes are cartoonish to me. And the whole atmosphere feels slightly false. It just drips with the kind of snobbery that Oxford and Cambridge breeds in people who worship wealth and aristocracy and can't quite admit it. There is a seductive nostalgia in the Oxford passages, it is certainly brilliant at evoking that strange elusive youthful bliss and its passing. But in the end it feels a bit creepy to me; and more about Waugh's insecurities about class than much else perhaps.
chuck_ralston on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Nearly thirty years have passed since my wife and I viewed the weekly televised series `Brideshead Revisited¿ during the fall of 1981, even on one occasion around Christmas dressing up and sipping champagne while pretending we were chums with Charles Ryder (actor Jeremy Irons), his college companion Sebastian Flyte (Anthony Andrews), and Sebastian¿s sister Julia (Diana Quick). In company with these characters played by then relatively new actors were stage veterans Laurence Olivier (as Lord Marchmain, Sebastian¿s father) and John Gielgud (as Edward Ryder). This romance of lost time and paradise regained was riveting then, and reading Evelyn Waugh¿s novel is an even better, intricate experience of the relationships between family and friends of the noble Marchmain family, set between the two world wars at palatial Brideshead, the Marchmain estate.Charles Ryder, student at Oxford University becomes friends with fellow student Sebastian Flyte who is more interested in dissipation and drink than studies. During term break, aristocratic Sebastian invites middle-class commoner Charles, to Brideshead Castle (Castle Howard near York, England, actual filming location for the series) where the two remain for the summer. Sebastian¿s languor revolves around alcohol while Charles becomes infatuated with his host¿s family: Sebastian¿s mother, Lady Marchmain, older brother Lord Brideshead `Bridey¿ and sisters Lady Julia and Lady Cordelia. Toward the end of summer, Sebastian decides he and Charles will visit Lord Marchmain and they travel by boat and train and carriage, ¿conifers changing to vine and olive¿ to Venice where his father, estranged from Lady Marchmain, resides with his mistress, Cara. After a fortnight on the Lido and in the Piazza San Marco at the Caffe Florian, Charles in conversation with Cara one evening learns of another side of the Marchmain family, one that, for both Lord Marchmain and Sebastian, has to do more with hate than love, ¿hating all the illusions of boyhood ¿ innocence, God, hope.¿ Back at Oxford for their second year, Charles begins study at the Ruskin School of Art while Sebastian, on notice for his poor performance, continues to withdraw from friends and studies into his own narcissistic world, and faces the possibility of being `sent down¿, that is, dismissed from university. His mother pays a visit, ostensibly to work with colleagues on a memorial project, but actually to see to it that Sebastian mends his ways. One evening Sebastian in the company of friends visits Ma Mayfield¿s, a private club with friendly women entertainers, becomes inebriated, and while driving erratically, is arrested and jailed. His sister Julia and her friend Rex Mottram provide bail, Sebastian appears before the Bow Street magistrate, and is released in the recognizance of family. Sebastian returns to Brideshead for awhile, then to Oxford, and after another bout of drunkenness finally is `sent down¿ and Charles becomes the ¿loneliest man in Oxford.¿ (p. 131) Lady Marchmain confides in Charles that she had experienced such drunkenness before with his [Sebastian¿s] father, and later in a letter to Charles says that Sebastian has left Brideshead to live with his father and then will tour the Levant [Middle East] with a family friend before returning to Oxford in the charge of one Monsignor Bell. Thus ends the first part of this novel, entitled `Et in Arcadia Ego¿, which is an allusion to classical representations of idyllic youth carefree enjoying the pleasures of life yet always aware of the penumbra of death. One such representation is Nicolas Poussin¿s painting, Les Bergers d¿Arcadie, depicting youth before a tomb with the Latin inscription, Et in arcadia ego, translated as ¿and I too was once in Arcadia¿ which may be understood to mean `life is short; make the most of it.¿[to be continued]
Niecierpek on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Even though written to hail God and his redemptive powers, for me the book shows a family devastated by Catholic beliefs. Where could you find a more miserable bunch of people?Brilliant dialogues.
neurodrew on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I am a fan of Evelyn Waugh from his Sword of Honor trilogy, a great comic work. This book is much different, more serious, sad in many ways. It is the tale of Charles Ryder, English noble son, his education at Oxford and involvement with Sebastian Flyte and Lord Marchmain¿s family at Brideshead. It is an elegy for a lost way of life written during the Second World War. The main tension is in the Catholic family scruples of the Flytes. As the introduction says, Waugh is writing about man in the presence of faith. There is the revealing seen of Lord Marchmain¿s deathbed confession, of Lady Julia¿s rejection of marriage with Charles, and the end of Sebastian as a sexton in a monastery in Morocco. The most witty part of the book is the father talking about the false conversion of Lady Julia¿s first husband Rex Mottram. I read this in the airplane, returning from Utah, and as with most literature was not concentrating at first but then had to finish the novel the same day.
nog on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An amazingly well written book. Not one word should be changed. If you told me that this is a perfect novel, I would merely nod.
gerleliz on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Very hard to get into but enjoyable
schmal06 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A captivatingly written novel about relationships made complicated by social class and religion. Waugh has a way wonderful way with words and his descriptions are magnificent. The characters are completely bewitching. You fall under the spell of the mysterious Flyte family just as Charles does. I couldn't put it down!
runaway84 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Unfortunately, my first introduction to this story was the most recent major motion picture. Which, after reading the book, I realized was complete crap and I thankfully found a way to block it out while reading.I liked this book, but I'm not sure what it's about. I think it's one of those books that hit on a lot of different points, but is not about one thing specifically.We meet Charles who seems to be the sort of person who just glides through life, seeing where the wind takes him. Sebastian was a poor soul doomed from the beginning. Their relationship is endearing from the start, but because of Sebastian's Catholic background and Charles firmly set against believing in anything, it slowly fades, and we see the poor effect it has on Sebastian. Charles' relationship with Sebastian's sister Julia, is clear from the start. She's basically a female version of Sebastian, and I think Charles knew that.The best word to describe what this book is about is: Decay. The decaying of the upper class English society, the carefree days between the wars. We see all that crumble in the form of the Brideshead manor.There are a lot of deep points this book focuses on, but I'm not getting deep with my review. I think I'm getting rusty.
lmichet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Simply the most gorgeous thing I have read in a very, very long time.There were a few passages that managed to stun me. The writing on the whole is better than practically anything else in English, yes. I remember at one point stumbling across a passage so gorgeous that I paused to think for a moment, before suddenly realizing that the passage had all been one sentence, and such a perfect one that I hadn't noticed it. I'm also convinced that this book has the most beautiful writing on the subject of happiness of any book in modern Literature.Reasons for not reading this book are small and silly ones, and I'm sorry I'd listened to them for so long.
whitewavedarling on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful read, one to be savored. Waugh's characters and dialogue come alive with each passage, their quirks and quandaries as believable as they are fresh. At times, it reads as simply a break from life, one of those simple pleasures. At others, it carries such a full weight of thought that you're sure it's one of the more serious and heartfelt novels you've come across. In the end, it comes full circle beautifully and leaves you with the satisfaction of a long and worthwhile journey to be remembered and, true to the title, revisited. In some ways, I'd compare Waugh's work here to authors like Ishiguro, Henry James, and Marquez, but none of these fit exactly, because in the background, haunting dialogues and particular scenes, there's a biting humor and wit nearly reminiscent of Jon Stewart (yes, of the Daily Show). As a result, I haven't read anything quite like it, but I do know that I have to recommend it for any reader who wants beautiful writing and time well spent in an original cast and a beautifully drawn world.
jmaloney17 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I liked this book immensely. I just read some reviews on LT about it. Frankly, I was surprised by what I read. Most liked the writing but not the story, or thought it good but too depressing.Honestly, I did not find it depressing at all. I liked the story. I liked the religious questions it raised. Waugh was catholic, but he started life as a protestant and in the middle was agnostic. I found it interesting that the people that I thought had the worst lives of the bunch, the Flyte's, had bad lives because they were catholic. They were brought up to feel bad about themselves and their actions. Sebastian and Julia repeatedly say they are bad and do bad things. They think this because they are catholic and their religion says they are bad. Ryder finds the Flyte family to be foreign in the way they think. Ryder is agnostic, so does not have the guilt that the Flyte's do. He feels guilt if he thinks he will upset his father, but quickly comes to terms with it. Ryder is modern definately. I don't find him to be a sad character. Yes, he is reminencient. But I also have the impression that his life with the Flyte's would have been enjoyable and honest and "good" if the Flyte's were not so religious.I see Ryder as a man knowing what was, what could have been and what is. He accepts his present is ok with it.I think my thoughts on this comes from my belief that religion is innately self-centered. Everyone is worried about getting themselves to heaven, so they don't necessarily do what makes sense. The Flyte's are in a neverending passive aggressive fight with themselves because of their religion. What a waste of time and energy. In the end, I think that Ryder is ok with himself and the Flyte's. Life goes on.
Topper on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Brideshead Revisited" is told as the reminiscence of Captain Charles Ryder, who while barracking in Brideshead Castle during WWII, recalls the people and life he knew there before the war. Ryder (think "Rider")--an indifferent soldier--presents himself as an equally unremarkable student at Oxford, where he meets Sebastian Flyte ("Flight"), whose family lives at the manor house. The rest of the novel concerns the marital, social, and religious drama of the Flyte family and Ryder's relationships with them. Waugh's prose is first-rate: many turns of phrases and descriptions shine like jewels, and many passages contain the pregnancy of a Henry James novel, ripe near to bursting with passionate implication. But while Waugh's characters are well-drawn in the moment, his open-handed stylistic trick of substituting the passage of time for their development doesn't always work. As a result, Ryder's character (for example) shifts from a heavy-drinking freshman to a mature artist to a socialite to a jerk to a bored soldier without any trouble on the part of the author. This trick would have been appropriate if it had been isolated and if Ryder were not central to the novel. But similar shifts happen to most of the other characters, all of whom are conveniently absent from the narratives for sufficient periods of time for them to change. In fact, the characters shift so completely and so quickly that the reader (or at least I) barely have a chance to develop much sympathy for them, which is doubly difficult as almost none of them has at any time any true regard for anyone but himself. It's almost as if one crossed Wharton's "House of Mirth" with "The Catcher in the Rye." At one point, Sebastian's sister Julia Flyte makes the remark that New Yorkers appear to confuse energy with neurosis--but if one substitutes "energy" with "sophistication," the same could be said for this entire cast of characters. I suppose that this is all what Waugh must have intended. And such an argument might have been convincing, if he hadn't decided for every character to follow the same facile arc. One could summarize the book as "Acting like an Idiot > Apostasy > Crisis > Spiritual Redemption" and not lose much in the translation. Enjoy the book for Waugh's prose; enjoy it for the lyricism embedded throughout; enjoy it for the funny parts (Ryder's father is a hoot, as is Anthony Blanche); enjoy it for the insight into a vanishing world of post-WWI aristocracy. But the shallowness is endemic.
zibilee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When Charles Ryder arrives at Brideshead after an absence of many years, he loses himself in reminiscences of the once grand home and residence of the intriguing Flyte family. Charles shares the story of his all-encompassing and complex relationship with the Flytes, which germinates with his college relationship with the eldest son, Sebastian, at Oxford. While sharing his opulent college days with Sebastian, the two become connoisseurs of fine food, good conversation, and especially in Sebastian's case, alcohol. Charles becomes unwittingly seduced by the luxurious lifestyle Sebastian leads, and although Sebastian tries to avoid the intrusion of his family into the friendship, Charles becomes enmeshed with them, growing increasingly entangled with their religious proclivities and emotional adversities. Eventually Charles moves past his friendship with Sebastian, who is on a course of self-destruction. Although he tries to leave Sebastian behind, his ties with the stifling family remain strong, and his ardor focuses on more accessible targets. As the glamor and artifice of the Flytes begins to fall away, Charles discovers his own moral awakenings, leaving him to reconcile the differences between himself and the Flytes as well as the similarities.This book is a stunning piece of literature. From the rich language to the captivating story it tells, it is easy to understand why this book remains a classic today. Though the story is arguably about one young man's immersion in a very unique family, there exists, parallel to the plot, the subject of divine grace and the examination of Catholicism as a moral compass which may shape even those who are not of the faith. The book also deals with the nostalgia for the British nobility, the disillusionment at the passage of youth, and speaks specifically about the many forms of love that assail us as human beings throughout life. The remarkable thing about all of this is that it is not done in a heavy-handed and cardboard way. It is not pounded into you with antiquated and stuffy language or sentimental observations that render the story artificially affected. Instead, there is a constant pushing and pulling of ideas, and a honest portrayal of relationships, religion, and youth that is not afraid to show the entire truth, warts and all. Aside from liking this book for the story that it told, I found it was engaging and entertaining in other aspects. The prose was lyrical while still being a little snarky and standoffish, giving it an offbeat charm and a knowing voice. When I had finished reading and closed the book, I found that there was so much more to think about and explore within the world presented to me. I looked back at scenes that were poignant, and was able to see that besides the obvious emotional impact there was a great deal more hiding within the narrative. Later, I found concepts that hadn't initially occurred to me, and I mused about the authors intentions with the direction of the story, and if indeed there was a subtle agenda. The book had a wonderful mood about it as well. The atmosphere was one of somberness, but it was not overwhelmingly dark and depressive. Things seemed to have the perfect gravity, neither too comedic nor too dismal. This is not to say that this was an entirely dark book; there were some perfectly comedic and witty moments, but overall the tone of this book was more serious, lending it the ability to become profound. This may give the perception that this is a deep book. Yes and no. I would say that on one hand it is a very deep book, but it depends entirely on how you read it. If you are reading it for the pleasure of an interesting story, that is what you will get. If on the other hand you are reading it for a deeper meaning, that is there as well. What I find interesting is that these elements exist completely in harmony with each other, while also remaining separate entities.I think the true measure of the success of this book is the fact that, al
dr_zirk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Having experienced the television treatment of Brideshead Revisited long before reading the book itself, I was pleasantly surprised to discover the rich language and evocative scenario that Waugh built into this classic. The book fully lives up to the promise of the wonderful television series, and is entirely rewarding - Waugh weaves a complex tale of politics, religion, sex, and other topics that are typically challenging for any writer, and he does so with a maturity and fluidity of language that is breathtaking, and quite funny at times. His exploration of the decline of the British aristocracy, writ in the broadest possible sense, feels both authentic and universal. Few writers have mastered modern English quite as well as Evelyn Waugh, and Brideshead Revisited is certainly one of his greatest works.