Brideshead

18 Mar

Brideshead Revisited is one of those books that fills me with joy at the mere thought of reading it. The story – of Englishman Charles Ryder and his affectionate, entangled attachment to Sebastian Flyte and his aristocratic family – is a story of dysfunction and demise, imbued with strong feelings of sadness. Written by Evelyn Waugh in 1943, the novel tackles issues from the decline of the landed gentry in the 1920s to the family’s ongoing fractures and religious torments. Despite this, the themes and images that always stick with me the longest when I place my copy back on the shelf, are the gems of pure happiness nestled amongst the dysfunctional rubble: the heady Oxford days when Sebastian and Charles first meet, the wonderfully flamboyant Anthony Blanche, picnics and painting at Brideshead, peaceful Venice, bubbling little Claudia, mysterious Julia, and Aloysius the faithful bear. Brideshead Revisited is magically nostalgic, revisiting and romanticising an age of opulent nobility that Waugh surely longed for in the grim, war-torn days in which he was writing.

For anyone that loves the book and is considering watching the 2008 film adaptation with Ben Wishaw, Matthew Goode et al. by all means do, it’s cinematically beautiful. If  you’re after a more faithful adaptation however, be sure to set aside 11 hours of your life for the 1981 television adaptation starring Anthony Andrews, Jeremy Irons and Diana Quick. You won’t regret it, I promise. The sunbathing-on-the-roof scene alone will guarantee that.

x Loulou

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