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Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

Brideshead Revisited (1945)

by Evelyn Waugh

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7,962170410 (4.07)544
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    The Garden of the Finzi-Continis by Giorgio Bassani (Rebeki)
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    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.
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    The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst (djmccord73)
    djmccord73: british families, class divisions, being an outsider, envy
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    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.

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Showing 1-5 of 161 (next | show all)
This is a story of the British gentry in the first half of the twentieth century. It follows Charles Ryder as he comes in contact with the Flytes. He meets Sabastian in Oxford who takes him to Brideshead, his family seat. As the years pass he gets acquainted with the other members of the Flyte family and their lives. There is much religion especially Catholic religion with which we grapple repeatedly.

It's an overall nice portrait of the times. One of the most famous novels by Evelyn Waugh who is a much revered author and deservingly so. A solid read. ( )
  mausergem | Sep 30, 2014 |
I have so much to think about and say about this book. You'll read the actual review in accidentallymars.wordpress.com in a day or so. ( )
  mreed61 | Aug 10, 2014 |
The environment of effeminate, aristocratic males of a private English school; the casual enjoyment of entitled wealth; the love for a woman above one's status and the jealousy engendered in her brother; all changed by the reality of WWI and the ultimate demise of the landed gentry. A very well written book. Engaging, but one feels a little dirty after reading it. ( )
  JVioland | Jul 14, 2014 |
One of those books that have been lying around for ages (and where you have a vague recollection of an unwatched mini-series from 30 years ago.....).

First published in 1945, this book is split into 3 sections - the first being Charles Ryder, in the army, returning to Brideshead to use it as local army headquarters. He first visited Brideshead when he was at Oxford and met up with the younger Flyte son Sebastian. This takes us into a reminiscence of Charles's interaction with the Flyte family. Sebastian comes first, and he and Charles have some form of love affair. There is some debate as to whether it was just a romantic love affair (as some young men are wont to do - think it would be called a "bromance" nowadays) or something more sexual (unlikely to be more explicit considering time it was written). Julia is Sebastian's younger sister, an unavailable female version of Sebastian as well as their rather strongly Catholic mother. Their father lives in Italy with his mistress, unable to get a divorce because his wife wont grant it.

Sebastian only really appears in the first third of the book, and the relationship between Charles and the Flyte family falls apart through Sebastian's excessive drinking. Sebastian disappears onto the continent somewhere and is barely heard of again until the end, and only then by third hand.

The second section of the book details Charles's relationship with Julia, where the two meet again several years later and end up living together for several years - both having married and on track to get divorces as a result. They plan to get married once both divorces come through, but over the subsequent years whilst waiting on the divorces, several large events come about. Julia's brother Brideshead, decides to get married to a hideous widow with 2 children, and now that Julia's mother has died, Julia's father decides to return to Brideshead in order to die.

The last, short section of the book returns Charles to Brideshead as part of the army who have taken residence in the empty home.

There are large swathes of narrative, with page long paragraphs, especially at the beginning, which would have turned me off the book had it gone on for much longer. There is also some conflict between the very Catholic Flyte family and the rather atheist Charles, which brings conflict throughout the book.
  nordie | Jun 16, 2014 |
Original post at Book Rhapsody.



Brideshead Revisited is arguably the masterpiece of its author, Evelyn Waugh. It is claimed so as well by the writer, but after he reread it years after its first publication date, he was appalled to find out that it isn’t as good as he initially thought it was. But isn’t that always the case? For us book bloggers, we think that we have just finished writing a wonderful review of a book after editing the typos and other errors, only to realize months later that it’s rather distasteful.

Anyway, the novel’s complete title is Brideshead Revisited, The Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder. I think that the subtitle is a little oxymoronic and intriguing: how can the sacred and the profane intermingle with each other? It must be blasphemous then, no?

True enough, one of the novel’s themes is Catholicism. Charles Ryder is drawn to the Flyte Family, a rich and opulent one, through his friend Sebastian Flyte. Sebastian, at first, is reluctant to introduce him to the rest of the Flytes lest they take away his only friend, but Charles is inevitably dragged to the very Catholic and very flawed affairs of the family.

The languor of Youth–how unique and quintessential it is! How quickly, how irrecoverably, lost! The zest, the generous affections, the illusions, the despair, all the traditional attributes of Youth–all save this–come and go with us through life; again and again in riper years we experience, under a new stimulus, what we thought had been finally left behind, the authentic impulse to action, the renewal of power and its concentration on a new object; again and again a new truth is revealed to us in whose light all our previous knowledge must be rearranged. These things are a part of life itself; but languor–the realization of yet unwearied sinews, the mind sequestered and self-regarding, the sun standing still in the heavens and the earth throbbing to our own pulse–that belongs to Youth alone and dies with it. Perhaps in the mansions of Limbo the heroes enjoy some such compensation for their loss of the Beatific Vision; perhaps the Beatific Vision itself has some remote kinship with this lowly experience; I, at any rate, believed myself very near heaven, during those languid days at Brideshead.

Brideshead is the name of the house, rather castle, of the Flytes. Charles Ryder, a fledgling painter, is checking out his ground-floor room at Oxford when Sebastian, out of nowhere, vomits inside through the window. The next day, Sebastian sends flowers to Charles’s room and invites him for lunch.

That is the start of the friendship between the two. They spend most of the time with each other, mostly drinking and basically having the time of their lives. This friendship is a hot topic of debate among literary circles. Is it a homosexual relationship? Is it a deeply platonic relationship?

On the surface, there are no homosexual acts, but one may be led to think that there might have been stolen kisses here and there, and even more, if one dives deeper beneath the text. And what did I think of it? Sure, Sebastian is queer. He cares so much for Charles, but I don’t think Charles reciprocated it in the same way as the former did. What they have must be a sort of bromance, something that fizzles out once the real object of desire comes along, which is Julia in Charles’s case.

Julia, Sebastian’s older sister, is very much like the younger brother in some ways. She becomes the love of Charles at the latter parts of the novel, but is she really what Charles wants?

The friendship between Charles and Sebastian crumbles slowly when Julia enters the scene. It ends when Charles was banished away from the family when he tolerates Sebastian’s uncontrolled drinking, opposing the wishes of Sebastian’s religiously oppressive mother. Years later, Charles and Julia are married but not to each other. The love between them that was thwarted earlier is rekindled as the two meet again. They go through an affair, but Charles wants more than Julia alone: he wants Brideshead.

So, why didn’t they marry each other? Of course, there’s Sebastian, but he isn’t the sole and main reason. Charles, an uncompromising atheist, cannot be accepted into the Flyte family because of the family’s strong Catholic foundation. In fact, it is too strong that the patriarch ran away for being stifled by the saintly matriarch. The latter’s admonitions to the Flyte children poison them as they grow older, and this ultimately becomes the reason for the subsequent unhappiness of Sebastian.

Religion is good, but is it good enough to allow people to base their happiness on it? There is no problem if people are utterly happy in performing their religious duties, but what if their happiness is something that religion forbids? What does one do: denounce his faith or succumb to it?

Most of the characters in this novel undergo a sort of conversion. From the adulterous patriarch even to the wayward Sebastian, they turn back to religion that they felt constricted their lives. That is something that bothers me. Are they fully absolved in accepting what they shunned away, or is this just another plain ritual that the society has to act out? And how about Charles? Does he have a reason to seek conversion? Is he guilty of something? Is he the hunted or the hunter?

These are all very coarse and incoherent thoughts on the book, but disregarding them, this a very satisfying read. Waugh is an adept writer, sometimes evocative, sometimes humorous. It’s also very nostalgic, and Charles, an outsider to a world of excesses and indulgence, becomes our eyes to the post WWI English high society. ( )
  angusmiranda | Jun 10, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 161 (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
Irons, JeremyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jalvingh, LucTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rosoman, LeonardIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I am not I; thou art not he or she; they are not they.
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.
"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." 
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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.
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makes all my friends unhappy.
Me too. Sign me up!

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

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Penguin Australia

Five editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141182482, 0141187476, 0141045620, 0241951615, 0141193484

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