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review 2018-11-17 07:51
Brideshead Revisited (TV Tie In) - Evelyn Waugh

Book blurb: Evelyn Waugh's best-loved, most passionate and most poignant novel of a doomed aristocratic Catholic family - now recreated in Granada Television's once-in-a-lifetime production.

What I Thought: Well the book blurb doesn't give you much to go on by. It assumes that you have heard of the book and would dash off to read it. I thought - well, it's a classic, must read. I'm glad I did and I can say, "Don't dash. It is not as exciting it is made out to be."


The full title of the book is Brideshead Revisited: The Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder. Just like its long title, the book is pompous and over-promising; a laborious read about entitled aristocrats who have never known a day of hardship, so they busy themselves with talks of religion and stuporous drinking. Charles Ryder loves them and has fond memories of them. So, in gist you will be reading about his love for Sebastian and Julia, and his desire to be part of the Marchmain family, but not to be completely sucked in to the ridiculousness of their existence. 


Of course, the book is not wholly bad. In Brideshead Revisited, Waugh uses conversation and dialogue skilfully to quicken the pace of the book, but - oh dear - when he comes to paragraph passages, Waugh takes you on a long-winded walk of words, long sentences and their complicated structures. Remember, 'pompous' just like the title. If Waugh's purpose of the book  was to show even just a smidgen of the aristocratic life - he has then achieved the goal in reflecting what a waste of resources and human lives that is aristocracy. 


Overall, the book was okay. I'm glad I read it, but will not be returning to it any time soon. 

"Dictionary Corner":
inviolable - never to be dishonoured

idiosyncrasy - peculiarity

penurious - extremely poor; unwilling to spend money

breviary - a book containing the service for each day to be recited by those in orders of the Roman Catholic Church

internecine - destructive to both sides in a conflict

cumbrous(ly) - inconvenient in size, weight or shape; unwieldy

lubricity - the measure of the reduction in friction and or wear by a lubricant

prurient - having or encouraging an excessive interest in sexual matters, especially the sexual activity of others

obsequious(ly) - servilely compliant or deferential; fawning; dutiful

dipsomaniac - a drunkard or alcoholic: someone who drinks alcohol to excess

wolfram - tungsten ore; a native tungstate of iron and manganese

tungsten - a steel-grey dense metallic element with a very high melting-point, used for the filaments of electric lamps and for alloying steel

manganese - a grey brittle metallic transition element used with steel to make alloys

climacteric - a critical period or event; having extreme and far-reaching implications or results; critical

prevarication - a fancy way to say "lie," skirting around the truth, being vague about the truth, or even delaying giving someone an answer

suffragan - a bishop appointed to help a diocesan bishop


Best sex scene description by far: some authors need to take notes from EW!
"It was no time for the sweets of luxury; they would come, in their season, with the swallow and the lime flowers. Now on the rough water there was a formality to be observed, no more. It was as though a deed of conveyance of her narrow loins had been drawn and sealed. I was making my first entry as the freeholder of a property I would enjoy and develop at leisure." 

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review 2017-11-21 16:59
Brideshead Revisited
Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh

Largely regarded as Waugh's best work, Brideshead Revisited is one book I mostly associate with the tv adaptation rather than the book because it has been so long since I read the book that the tv adaptation, with all its visual charm and great acting, obviously left a more recent impression. Yet, I was not a fan of the story itself when watching the production, and from what I remember I could not connect with some of the major themes of the book on my first read. 


On re-reading the book, I discovered that take on the story, the characters, the writing, or the ideas put forth in the book has changed a little.


It was easier to engage with the book now that I have read other books by Waugh and his contemporaries, but at the same time I also found it way more tedious to slog through the last part of the book. 


Yes, the sadness of the characters is very real and dramatic, but I seem to have less patience now than on my first read for the self-imposed suffering that Waugh's characters take on by insisting that they have to sacrifice their chance of happiness for the sake of religion. At that, for a religious faith which seems to have arrived out of the blue...and with that I also had little patience for Waugh's religious philosophising, which I am sure some readers may see as the essence of quality in this story. For me, it spoilt the story and the character study just as much as Graham Greene's religious theorising spoilt reading his The Power and the Glory or Monsignor Quixote for me. 


What I would have liked to have had fleshed out a bit more was Sebastian's state of mind. Why did he chose to go into exile? Why did he loose the spirit with which he was described in the opening chapters of the book?


Still, despite the short-comings of the book, of which there were a few (including Waugh's casting a couple of stereotyped characters), it is an interesting book and one of Waugh's better one. The opening descriptions of Charles' return to Brideshead, the contracts in the circumstances of his visits, the implied description of the fall of the upper classes, and the unbelievable sadness of Charles' realisation that he has wasted his life is as beautiful as it is harrowing. The only author I have read who has outclassed Waugh in writing about these aspects is Ishiguro ... but if you ask me, he is in a completely different league altogether.  


Lastly, a note on the audiobook read by Jeremy Irons. It is fabulous!

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text 2017-11-14 00:59
16 Tasks of the Festive Season - Square #1: Día de Muertos
Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh

Book themes for Día de Muertos and All Saint’s Day:  A book that has a primarily black and white cover, or one that has all the colours (ROYGBIV) together on the cover.


I'm trying to do a bit of catch-up on the 16 Tasks but find that the task and books for each square seem too fabulous to pass or simply move on to another square.


I've been meaning to revisit Brideshead for quite some time, but every time I seem to come across Waugh I am reminded of the last couple of titles of his I read and how much I dislike his spite. (And yet, I adore Vile Bodies!)


From what I remember, there are parts in Brideshead Revisited that are absolutely fabulous, but it has been too long (15+ years?) since I read it, and I am sure that my observations will change, too. 


This visitation was brought on by my finding the audiobook (unabridged) read by Jeremy Irons to listen to alongside the book.


My editions - kindle and audiobook - have the black and while cover.


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review 2017-07-13 17:47
Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh

This book has been on my “to read” list for several years.  Given I knew only the synopsis on Goodreads, I had my own idea of what the book would be already formulated before I read the first page.  I suspected a summer tale, three months of glorious fun for two university pals.  This presumption wasn’t far off, but Waugh’s story goes further than romping around in the sunshine. 

The tale of a convoluted family and the witness of their stark emotional lives, Charles Ryder, explores spiritual responsibility and morality.  Despite this heavy subject, I did not feel as if religious opinion was being shoved down my throat, nor did I feel as if I was rifling through a bible. Like Fitzgerald’s Nick Carraway, Charles Ryder is the eye over a high and mighty set of people, albeit less glamorous.  

The Marchmains are so pious that they have left very little room for common decency.  And they’re not even truly pious. Mrs. Marchmain’s religious conviction is just as much a form of escapism as Sebastian’s drinking.  While reading this book all I could think about was how everyone just wanted to run away and free themselves from themselves.  Except no one could find a way to do it.  Instead, each person just sunk deeper into what complicated their lives in the first place, be it guilt, drunkenness, or obsession.  I can’t say I would read the book again, but I liked the story while I was in it and I appreciated the prose, even if the characters were icy and impulsive.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2015-07-12 06:36
Brideshead Revisited
Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
Some books are so well written, so rich in language and expression, that it makes me wonder if writers today possess the same level of facility. That's one of the thoughts I had as I was reading Brideshead Revisited, a bitter, nostalgic, beautiful novel published by Evelyn Waugh in 1945. This story is so personal and so distinctive in tone, I feel it could only have come from one man. That sounds like faint praise, but in reality, a lot of the books I read are very formulaic, lacking any semblance of original expression. And that's ok - those books are a certain sort of entertainment - diversions, we might call them - thrilling, sometimes moving, but not art. 
There are so many aspects to this novel that interested me. Let me briefly account for a couple of them:
Homosexuality - I know nothing about Waugh's life, whether he was drawing on personal experience in depicting the nature of young, gay men and the way these men were perceived within their society. There are several characters who reference the love between Charles and Sebastian - I'm thinking of the woman Cara involved with Lord Marchmain and what she tells Charles about this love, in which she excuses it as an early dalliance before settling down. I think also of how Charles tells Julia that it was a "prelude," and to what extent he truly felt or believed that. But the character of Anthony Blanche is another fascinating part of this picture, as he discusses the beatings he received in school and we see the underground bars he is forced to frequent. All of this falls into the novel's distinct mixing of comedy and tragedy that Waugh handles so brilliantly.
Roman Catholicism - A major theme to the book. I did understand the way Roman Catholics were out of place in England at that time, at least in the author's mind, but this is something I truly can't feel within me, as I feel that England is so different today in this respect. The sense of class decorum that pervades the story is so foreign to our modern sensibilities. Not even the royal family behaves or thinks in these ways anymore. So this aspect of the story seemed like an unfortunate backwardness to me. 
I did feel a small disappointment in Waugh's handling of Julia and Charles' parting, which comes off as a hurried decision. If this was how he wanted to leave it, let's have it in a conversation that unfolds at a more understandable pace. I feel the end could have used ten more pages to it. None of this, however, mars the overall work enough to slight it a star. 
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