Brideshead Revisited – Evelyn Waugh

Title: Brideshead Revisited
Author: Evelyn Waugh
ISBN: 9780316042994
Pages: 368
Release Date: June 23, 2008
Publisher: Back Bay Books
Genre: Classics
Rating: 4 out of 5

From the back cover:

This is the most nostalgic and reflective of Evelyn Waugh’s novels, Brideshead Revisited looks back to the golden age before the Second World War. It tells the story of Charles Ryder’s infatuation with the Marchmain family and the rapidly disappearing world of privilege they inhabit. Enchanted first by Sebastian at Oxford then by his doomed Catholic family, in particular his remote sister, Julia, Charles comes finally to recognize his spiritual and social distance from them.

I decided to read Brideshead Revisited for three reasons: first, I needed a book for the Classics Challenge. Second, when I found out I would be going to Oxford this summer, I wanted to read as many books as I could about it. I heard from multiple people that this was the seminal book set at Oxford. And finally, I’ve been wanting to watch the recent Brideshead Revisited movie, and I generally like reading the book before watching the movie. So, with those three compelling reasons in mind, I set out on the journey that was Brideshead Revisited.

I really liked Charles Ryder at the beginning of the book, though as Brideshead Revisited progresses, his integrity and character declines. Strangely enough, this didn’t really affect my level of esteem for Charles, though. I could understand why he was seduced by Sebastian’s family. It was interesting to watch him become more and more involved in their family; eventually his fate becomes intertwined with theirs.

The most interesting part of Brideshead Revisited was the social commentary. It is a portrait of excess and wealth, but also of the decline of the aristocracy in Britain. Charles witnesses these changes in society and is affected by them through Julia and the rest of the Flyte clan, whom are very complex. It might take another close reading of the book to really get at the heart of each of them. Evelyn Waugh wrote such deep and intricate characters; this book is worth reading for them, if nothing else.

The heart of this book is really the discussion of faith and religion. Waugh focuses on the meaning of religion to a person, even if they have turned their back on it. There is a measure of Catholic guilt present in the novel as well, exemplified by Sebastian. All in all, it’s a very interesting discussion.

I enjoyed Brideshead Revisited and its depiction of the University of Oxford. If you’re looking for a deep, rich and entertaining classic read, I definitely recommend this novel.

Comments

  1. I have this on my TBR pile; I got it with the same intention of seeing the movie, but that hasn’t happened yet. I’m glad you liked it, that means I’m more likely to when I finally get to it!

  2. I have this on my TBR pile; I got it with the same intention of seeing the movie, but that hasn’t happened yet. I’m glad you liked it, that means I’m more likely to when I finally get to it!

  3. I really need to give this one a go. It’s nice to see you on my blog again- I’m sorry about the stuff with the feeds not working well, and I’m glad to see you back! 🙂

  4. I really need to give this one a go. It’s nice to see you on my blog again- I’m sorry about the stuff with the feeds not working well, and I’m glad to see you back! 🙂

  5. This sounds like the perfect fit for you!

  6. This sounds like the perfect fit for you!

  7. I read this ages ago, when I was likely too young to appreciate it. I loved the film version that was on PBS. I really should revisit the book — especially now that I’ve been Oxford. Perfect prep for your trip.

  8. I read this ages ago, when I was likely too young to appreciate it. I loved the film version that was on PBS. I really should revisit the book — especially now that I’ve been Oxford. Perfect prep for your trip.

  9. I’ve thought about reading this book as I know a lot of people really love it. I’ll have to think about it. 🙂

  10. I’ve thought about reading this book as I know a lot of people really love it. I’ll have to think about it. 🙂

  11. I listened to this one on audio, read by Jeremy Irons, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I liked the movie, too, although I think they missed some of the points made in the book about religion. It also skipped ahead a lot – by necessity, since the book covered so much time.

  12. I listened to this one on audio, read by Jeremy Irons, and thoroughly enjoyed it. I liked the movie, too, although I think they missed some of the points made in the book about religion. It also skipped ahead a lot – by necessity, since the book covered so much time.

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  15. I’ve wanted to read this book since high school (a good 10+ years), and for whatever reason I haven’t yet picked it up. Thanks for a great review! It may well me the next classic I dive into.

  16. I’ve wanted to read this book since high school (a good 10+ years), and for whatever reason I haven’t yet picked it up. Thanks for a great review! It may well me the next classic I dive into.

  17. This is one those books I always heard you should read, but I never got around to it. Thnaks for the encouraging review 🙂

  18. This is one those books I always heard you should read, but I never got around to it. Thnaks for the encouraging review 🙂

  19. Brideshead is one of my favorite books of all time! The BBC series with Jeremy Irons was wonderful also. I haven’t seen the recent movie yet — in fact, I think I’m a little afraid to. I hope you’ll report back and let us know how it is.

  20. Brideshead is one of my favorite books of all time! The BBC series with Jeremy Irons was wonderful also. I haven’t seen the recent movie yet — in fact, I think I’m a little afraid to. I hope you’ll report back and let us know how it is.

  21. What a nice surprise! I have also read Brideshead Revisited as part of the Classics Challenge — I am still contemplating my review… (don’t worry, I won’t steal yours 😉

    I watched the tv-series twice (years back) and after reading the book I organized an evening for my online bookgroup, hiring the dvd of the ‘new’ movie. Of all these I liked the book BEST and the series 2nd. The 2008 film was kind of a disappointment…

  22. What a nice surprise! I have also read Brideshead Revisited as part of the Classics Challenge — I am still contemplating my review… (don’t worry, I won’t steal yours 😉

    I watched the tv-series twice (years back) and after reading the book I organized an evening for my online bookgroup, hiring the dvd of the ‘new’ movie. Of all these I liked the book BEST and the series 2nd. The 2008 film was kind of a disappointment…

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