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Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
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Brideshead Revisited (1945)

by Evelyn Waugh

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
8,170184382 (4.06)700
  1. 100
    The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (Booksloth)
  2. 90
    Howards End by E. M. Forster (readerbabe1984)
  3. 82
    Atonement by Ian McEwan (readerbabe1984)
  4. 40
    The Garden of the Finzi-Continis by Giorgio Bassani (Rebeki)
    Rebeki: Both set prior to the Second World War, with a narrator looking back on time spent with a memorable family in a memorable and evocative setting. Same sense of melancholy and nostalgia.
  5. 41
    The End of the Affair by Graham Greene (WilliamQuill)
  6. 20
    A Dance to the Music of Time: First Movement, Spring by Anthony Powell (literarysarah)
  7. 20
    Mad world: Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead by Paula Byrne (librarianistbooks)
  8. 21
    The Go-Between by L. P. Hartley (Anonymous user)
  9. 21
    The Queer Feet [Short story] by G. K. Chesterton (Gregorio_Roth)
    Gregorio_Roth: Evelyn Waugh used this story by G.K. Chesterton as a basis for a number of ideas in his book.
  10. 21
    The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst (djmccord73)
    djmccord73: british families, class divisions, being an outsider, envy
  11. 00
    Missä kuljimme kerran : romaani eräästä kaupungista ja tahdostamme tulla ruohoa korkeammaksi by Kjell Westö (JustJoey4)
  12. 12
    The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford (chrisharpe)
  13. 13
    The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford (chrisharpe)
  14. 02
    The Rules of Attraction by Bret Easton Ellis (Gregorio_Roth)
    Gregorio_Roth: Brideshead Revisited is to the 1940's as Rules of Attraction was to the 1980's.
1940s (6)
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Showing 1-5 of 174 (next | show all)
Like Ethan Frome and Age of Innocence, Brideshead Revisited features sympathetic but heartbreakingly human protagonists, possessing both grace and flaws, placed in a setting rife with rigid societal/religious constraints and then forced to choose between societal/religious conformity or personal happiness. I keep hoping the protagonists will choose personal happiness, but they never do.

[WARNING: TONS OF SPOILERS!] This novel features a trio of perhaps the most charismatic and tragic protagonists in literary history: gay, tormented Sebestian Flyte, his beautiful sister Julia, and family friend Charles Ryder. In Age of Innocence, it’s the rigid constructs of society that eventually bruise and break the characters. In this outing, Catholicism is the wall against which each character, one after another, tragically dashes themselves: first, Sebestian’s father, trapped by Catholicism in a loveless marriage; next, his heartbreakingly fragile son Sebastian, trying desperately to repress his homosexuality; after that Julia, who tragically discovers her love for Charles after she has married another; and finally Charles who, though a non-believer, is swept up by the tide of Marchmont tragedy and himself broken.

All of which would have you thinking of this story as rampantly anti-Catholic, except that Waugh was himself a convert to Catholicism and, accordingly, ensures that each character, though deprived of earthly happiness, ultimately rescues their hope of ultimate grace. Even Charles, the skeptic and non-believer, has by the end of the tale begun to pray. Which, I suppose, is meant to provide consolation of a sort, though not enough to keep me from tearing up throughout the final chapters.

Provided you can deal with all the tragedy, there’s much in this novel to admire and, yes, to love. The writing is gorgeous. The evocation of period is brilliant. And each of the three protagonists is hauntingly memorable – especially Sebestian, whose transformation from dazzlingly charismatic schoolboy to gentle but ravaged alcoholic adulthood is wholly riveting.

You know how some books don’t seem particularly notable at the time but as the years pass you come gradually to comprehend their wisdom and insight? I have a feeling this is going to be one of those books, and that Waugh’s insights into faith, duty, loyalty, morality, beauty, friendship and love are destined to haunt me for years to come. ( )
  Dorritt | May 25, 2015 |
During World War II, Captain Charles Ryder is surprised to find his unit at Brideshead, a place he once knew well. Ryder recalls his friendship with Sebastian Flyte during their university days, his first visit to Brideshead with Sebastian, and his relationships with the rest of Sebastian's family, particularly his sister Julia. Unlike Charles, Sebastian's family is Catholic. Some are devout, and others are lapsed. The bonds of faith prove to be more lasting than home, family, friends, or love.

I listened to the audio version read by Jeremy Irons. I doubt there is a better narrator out there for this book. I would imagine that Irons read it more than once in preparation for his role in the miniseries, and he probably has a better understanding of it than almost anyone living. At some point I want to revisit this book in print. It is filled with symbolism – religious, architectural, and artistic – and it deserves a second, closer reading. ( )
  cbl_tn | Mar 10, 2015 |
What a schizophrenic little novel this is. The story, in reminiscence, of the youth and young adulthood of Charles Ryder, a painter currently in the British wartime Army, making bivouac at a manor house he once frequented in "happier times", it is at times lovely, funny, touching; at other times melodramatic, monotonous, cringe-worthy. To be fair, Waugh does warn us with his subtitle, "The Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder".

I think my greatest objection to the whole book is that it isn't a "whole". It's just parts. Things don't develop, they just happen. Our narrator is all about Sebastian (and just what does he SEE in him, anyway?) for 200 pages and then suddenly Sebastian is out of the picture, left to his inevitable disintegration apparently without qualm, and Charles has a wife we've never heard of before. Oh...wait...she's Boy Mulcaster's sister, just by the way. We've met Boy...but did he have a sister? Didn't matter if he did. But now it does. Then, suddenly, there's Sebastian's sister Julia back in Charles's life. And passion ensues. Inconvenient wife and unseen children dispatched easily enough...very little fuss. Younger sister, the lovely, delightful little Cordelia (who might have been the inspiration for Alan Bradley's Flavia DeLuce) has grown up quite changed, for the author's convenience, I suppose, as again we do not SEE any development there...just the end result. But she's necessary to tell us, in a tedious monologue, just what's become of Sebastian while our backs were turned.

I enjoyed it thoroughly, especially the audio, for the first two-thirds; the final book, however, was a trial. Irons was still excellent in his narration, but even he couldn't make Julia's "living in sin" monologue palatable in any way. As a portrait of dissolute Sebastian Flyte, Brideshead works very well. As a "mannerly" novel, again, much of it is fine, fine, fine. But as Story, it failed utterly for me. I wouldn't care if it hadn't seemed to be trying to tell a story. ( )
1 vote laytonwoman3rd | Feb 27, 2015 |
Charles Ryder is serving in the Army in World War II. His tour of duty leads him to Brideshead, a place which has a history for him. He spent many days there during his college years. He also visited there a few years later. It's a story of the upper class and one which deals with love lost. Catholicism plays an important part in the narrative. The prose is beautifully written. It's a shame that I didn't enjoy the actual plot more. ( )
  thornton37814 | Feb 26, 2015 |
Charles Ryder, engaged in the army during WWII, comes upon a great big palatial house fronted by a neglected ancient Italian fountain during a manoeuvre which brings back memories of his youth. As a young Oxford student, he fell in love with the equally young Sebastian Flyte, a strange young and beautiful aristocrat hailing from the Marchmain clan inhabiting Brideshead castle, where Charles eventually came to meet Sebastian's family, including older brother Brideshead, sisters Julia (who is very elegant and practically a Sebastian lookalike) and the youngest, Cordelia. Sebastian's mother was deeply religious and had raised her children in her Catholic faith, but Sebastian seemed to hate her and take after his father who had left them all behind to take up with his mistress in Venice, and like him soon sinks into deep alcoholism from which there is no helping him and into which he escapes from his troubled family and especially his overbearing mother. As Sebastian accuses his friend of spying for his mother, the friends inevitably grow apart. Later, Charles's career as an artist expands. He eventually comes to meet again with Julia on a transatlantic journey, and though they are both married, they have a passionate extramarital affair and plan to eventually marry. The story follows the travails of the young men as they travel around and evolve throughout the 20s and 30s, and through Julia's marriage to a rich Canadian politician who has made his home in England, though the main focus is on Sebastian's on again, off again relations with the Marchmains over the years.

I came to know Waugh's writing through his earlier works which all have a distinct manic and satirical humorous tone and found this book to have a very ponderous and slow serious pace, which in itself would have been fine, but Waugh's insistence here on making the Catholic question one of prime importance in the story became overbearing and took away much of the reading pleasure for me. Perhaps I'll read it again sometime, if only because I've become a fan of Waugh's and I know this is recognised as one of his finest works. But at this time I cannot say I was overly impressed. Loved my Folio Society edition with fine Leonard Rosoman illustrations, but perhaps another time I might try Jeremy Irons narrating the audio edition. ( )
  Smiler69 | Feb 26, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 174 (next | show all)
"Lush and evocative ... the one Waugh which best expresses at once the profundity of change and the indomitable endurance of the human spirit."
added by GYKM | editThe Times
 
But those who disagree with him on religious or political grounds, or both, will have a time for themselves in trying to prove that his beliefs have marred his literary artistry. "Brideshead Revisited” is Mr. Waugh's finest achievement.
 

» Add other authors (36 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Waugh, Evelynprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Andel, E. vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bentley,PeterCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jalvingh, LucTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rosoman, LeonardIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
I am not I; thou art not he or she; they are not they.
Dedication
To Laura
First words
When I reached C Company lines, which were at the top of the hill, I paused and looked back at the camp, just coming into full view below me through the grey mist of early morning.
Quotations
"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 creamy with meadowsweet and the air heavy with all the scents of summer; it was a day of peculiar splendour, 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.
 "these men must die to make a world for Hooper ... so that things might be safe for the travelling salesman, with his polygonal pince-nez, his fat, wet handshake, his grinning dentures." 
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
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Book description
Charles Ryder, a student at Hertford College, Oxford, is befriended by Lord Sebastian Flyte, the younger son of an aristocratic family, who introduces Charles to his eccentric and aesthetic friends, including the haughty and homosexual Anthony Blanche, and takes Charles to his family's palatial home, Brideshead.
Haiku summary
Catholicism
makes all my friends unhappy.
Me too. Sign me up!
(PhileasHannay)

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0316926345, Paperback)

One of Waugh's most famous books, Brideshead Revisited tells the story of the difficult loves of insular Englishman Charles Ryder, and his peculiarly intense relationship with the wealthy but dysfunctional family that inhabited Brideshead. Taking place in the years before World War II, Brideshead Revisited shows us a part of upper-class English culture that has been disappearing steadily.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:47:00 -0400)

(see all 9 descriptions)

Captain Charles Ryder, stationed at Brideshead, recalls his boyhood associations with the odd but charming members of an English noble family. The story of Charles Ryder and his involvement with an aristocratic Roman Catholic English family, the Marchmains.… (more)

» see all 14 descriptions

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Audible.com

6 editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

5 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141182482, 0141187476, 0141045620, 0241951615, 0141193484

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