Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

” ‘What’s this place called?’
He told me and, on the instant, it was as though someone had switched off the wireless, and a voice that had been bawling in my ears, incessantly, fatuously, for days beyond number, had been suddenly cut short; an immense silence followed, empty at first, but gradually, as my outraged sense regained authority, full of a multitude of sweet and natural and long-forgotten sounds – for he had spoken a name that was so familiar to me, a conjuror’s name of such ancient power, that, at its mere sound, the phantoms of those haunted late years began to take flight.”

Not what I was expecting it to be, but still very good. I especially like the discussions of Catholicism (and the major role it plays in the dynamics of the infamous Flyte family, owners of Brideshead Castle) and homosexuality. My two favorite characters were both gay – one more openly than the other. First there was Anthony Blanche, who I always pictured as a drag queen because he was that fabulous, and then of course there’s Sebastian, the holy and doomed best friend of the narrator. One of my favorite lines in the book came from him, when he takes Charles Ryder (the narrator, who wasn’t quite likeable) for a drive: “The motor-car is the property of a man named Hardcastle. Return the bits to him if I kill myself; I’m not very good at driving.” Sebastian also has a teddy bear named Aloysius, who he talks about as if he’s real, and it’s horribly endearing. Sadly, the bear disappears about halfway through the book.

After reading the book, I now want to see the movie version (the one that just came out and is the reason my copy of the book, with the shiny photos from the film, cost $14.99). Judging by the trailers, it’s completely different from the book, but Emma Thompson seems to do an amazing job as Lady Marchmain, so it can’t be too terrible.

Verdict: four out of five stars

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

  1. I rather liked the most recent film adaptation—of course, I haven’t seen the classic BBC miniseries version. Have you?

    I think one of my favorite things about this book is how the reader slowly realizes that Charles isn’t a good person.

  2. I haven’t seen any film versions of this – I remember watching the trailer for the recent movie adaptation, and since I could tell just from the trailer that they took enormous liberties with the story, decided to give it a pass. However, knowing that Peggy Carter plays Julie might change my mind.

    I really need to re-read this sometime (I read it back in 2007 or 2008), because I realize that I don’t actually remember that much about the book, aside from Charles’s angst over Julia and the wonderful Sebastian. I’m reading a book of Christopher Hitchens essays right now, and he had a very good one on Evelyn Waugh that made me want to revisit this book.

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