Generally speaking, western civilization is fascinated with wealthy people—especially dysfunctional wealthy people.
That’s why reality stars like the Kardashians are so popular. That’s why television series like Downton Abbey have such a large following. And that’s why Brideshead Revisited is such a popular and intriguing novel.
What is it about rich people that we’re so fascinated about? Well, I guess it’s their money.
So I’m finally wrapping up Brideshead Revisited and hope to have my review up within the next week or so.
I’ll give you a tease, though: I love this novel.
Though I’ve read quite a few novels about post World War 1 British aristocracy, none of them have pulled me in quite like this story by Evelyn Waugh. You’ve got the middle class narrator, Charles Ryder, who has an unusual attraction, even obsession, with the well-to-do Flyte family.
His obsession begins with Sebastian, then moves on to Sebastian’s sister, Julia. The story has betrayal, love, extramarital affairs, and all the baggage that goes with them. Charles Ryder is a difficult narrator to “pull for”–mainly because of the way he treats his wife and children. He’s an absentee father of the worst sort.
I love how The Guardian opens this piece about Brideshead Revisited: Read more
* This is a repost from 2012 when I was reading Evelyn Waugh’s A Handful of Dust. As I’m now finishing up Brideshead Revisited, I thought it was still relevant. Great insight here from Waugh.
One of the best writing tips I’ve heard for novelists goes something like this: “Know the ending before you start.”
I love that. It just makes sense. That’s not to say there isn’t other ways to write a novel. I know many authors take the “go where the characters lead” approach. But it just seems much easier to know where you’re going before you start.
With A Handful of Dust, Evelyn Waugh took that approach, which he explained in an interview with The Paris Review in 1962.
I don’t have a lot for you today coming off of a three-day holiday weekend, but I do want to share this passage from Brideshead Revisited with you.
If you’re scoring at home, it’s on page 259.
Evelyn Waugh compares memories to pigeons and the rest of us are better off for it. Tell me this isn’t an incredibly written paragraph.
I want to go sit on a park bench, feed a pigeon, and reminisce about my childhood in Georgia.
Brideshead Revisited is one of those novels that’s filled with memorable passages and witty one-liners.
One minute you’ll be reading a reflective passage from Charles Ryder, the narrator. The next you’ll be reading some witty one-liners from his alcoholic socialite friend, Sebastian.
The novel has so many good quotes that I thought I’d pull out a few and share with you guys today. Take a look:
“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.”
“Sometimes, I feel the past and the future pressing so hard on either side that there’s no room for the present at all.”
“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.”
“O God, make me good, but not yet.”
“[Change is] the only evidence of life.”
“No one could really hate a saint, could they? They can’t really hate God either. When they want to Hate Him and His saints they have to find something like themselves and pretends it’s God and hate that.”
I’m digging this novel.
I don’t think it’s going to be a top-10er in my rankings, but I believe, by the time I’ve finished reading it, I’ll be happy to recommend Brideshead Revisited.
Very curious to see where this one goes.
What exactly is Castle Howard, you ask?
It’s the castle chosen to depict the Brideshead castle in both the mini-series and cinematic versions of Brideshead Revisited. And, as you can see, it’s beautiful.
The castle is located in North Yorkshire, England and has been the actual private residence of the Carlisle branch of the Howard family for more than 300 years.
Construction began in 1699 and took more than 100 years to complete, using the design by Sir John Vanbrugh. The entire estate covers 13,000 acres. Read more
If it’s true that you can tell a good novel by how many times it’s been adapted onto the screen (is it true?), then Brideshead Revisited is a pretty darn good novel.
Let’s take a look at the two most famous adaptions of Waugh’s novel. Read more