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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 2016-08-18 00:00
Decline and Fall
Decline and Fall - Evelyn Waugh After walking into to a prank by some good ol' boys, Paul Pennyfeather is sent down from Scone College for 'indecent behavior', a blow that he takes without too much fuss. His guardian denies him his allowance and he is sent off to teach at a public school far enough down the ladder to not inquire too closely into his background.

Decline and Fall is Paul's coast through the tribulations of public school, high society, bribery, prison and faith. Very little appears to touch him. He likes his friends and some of the students, but there is little genuine enthusiasm from him except for the occasional trip out to the tavern.

The joy in the novel comes from the grubby self-interest of the upper classes and the blatant disregard they have for the conventional rules of decency and fair play. They're absolutely terrible and modern popular culture is about little else but terrible people. Waugh doesn't try to sell them as anything else. I liked it as much as Brideshead Revisited, but its a very different kind of book.
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text 2015-12-28 20:31
Look what I found!
Scoop - Evelyn Waugh
Put Out More Flags - Evelyn Waugh

Found this one lurking with the shirtless dudes at the gym, so I decided to give it a good home. 

 

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