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Brideshead Revisited: The sacred & profane memories of Captain Charles Ryder

3.99  ·  Rating Details ·  70,294 Ratings  ·  3,103 Reviews
Evelyn Waugh's most celebrated work is a memory drama about the intense entanglement of the narrator, Charles Ryder, with a great Anglo-Catholic family. Written during World War II, the story mourns the passing of the aristocratic world Waugh knew in his youth and vividly recalls the sensuous pleasures denied him by wartime austerities; in so doing it also provides a profo ...more
Hardcover, 351 pages
Published March 1979 by Little Brown and Company (first published 1945)
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Charbel I read it the first time just before I started secondary school (high school). I thought it was brilliantly complex, but not difficult to understand.…moreI read it the first time just before I started secondary school (high school). I thought it was brilliantly complex, but not difficult to understand. As for the "controversial" material in it, I think that if you're mature enough to understand and appreciate the novel, then you can handle all the scandalous parts in it.(less)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Paul Bryant
Jun 20, 2010 Paul Bryant rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
********Please note - contains spoilers ************

One's head is rather spinning, there are so many terribly good things and likewise so very much abject wretchedness it's hard to begin. Let us try.

1) This book is the twisted story of a homosexual affair, which I was truly not expecting it to be. It's famously set amongst the upper classes, firstly in Oxford, so you get pages of blissed-out descriptions of life amongst British aristocratic students in the 1920s and how many plovers eggs they ea
Jul 24, 2011 Schmacko rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I just finished rereading Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, a book I pick up every couple of years or so. This time I read it because of the new movie version movie (the one with Emma Thompson as the Lady Marchmain Flyte). As a critic, I get to see a pre-screening of the new movie on Tuesday; I am taking Dr. Steve. Also, I am a huge fan of the original, very-literal British miniseries from 1981 (it is the first thing that brought Jeremy Irons to international attention, and it had the excessi ...more
Mar 29, 2015 Diane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I finished this excellent book weeks ago but I have been stuck on how to review it. I sometimes have problems writing about the books I really like, and I loved this novel. I was familiar with the plot having seen the 2008 movie, but I didn't expect to love the book as much as I did or to get so completely immersed in the story.

I even loved the names of the characters: Charles Ryder. Sebastian Flyte. Julia Flyte. Lady Marchmain. I was caught up in each person — I felt Charles' yearning, I unders

When I first started reading this book, I was puzzled, lost even in my effort to find what exactly the author was attempting. As time and pages passed, I grew horribly angry with it all, and wondered if I would be able to finish and review the story without a note of fury running through it and wrecking what analysis I could present. Now that I've finished, I find myself saddened by the entire experience. With that in mind, let me explain.

This story had a great deal of potential in it, obli
Glenn Sumi
Just as Charles Ryder is seduced by the aristocratic Marchmain family in Brideshead Revisited, I was seduced by Evelyn Waugh’s gorgeous prose, elegy to lost youth and dreams, and the glamorous between the wars setting.

The pacing is strange, but it’s hinted at in the subtitle: “The Sacred & Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder.” Memories are sporadic, apt to be uncomprehensive, subjective.

Ryder, an officer (“homeless, childless, middle-aged and loveless”), is stationed at the magnificen
Evocative and nostalgic tale, infused with religion and (homo)sexuality, and hence passion, betrayal and guilt.

The later part, about Charles and Celia and then Charles and Julia is more subtle, realistic and sad than the light frivolity of Oxford days.

Hollinghurst's "The Stranger's Child" has many echoes of this (review here:

It's five years since I last read this, but a few ideas that have come back to me by discussing it elsewhere:

People we
Oct 04, 2016 Fabian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Bright Young Things fans
"Brideshead Revisited" is the opposite of "Vile Bodies"/"Bright Young Things" in that it starts off a tragedy, or at least pretty damn close to E. M. Forster's "Maurice" territory, and ends in a jubilant & comedic form. It seems to me that Waugh is a master of Contrasts, and it works all too well... the book ends and the reader is deeply disappointed that it does. I practically ignored most of Seattle as I read a paperback version of this brilliant book.

It begins and ends at completely diffe
Lauren G
Mar 13, 2015 Lauren G rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
'"Light one for me, would you?"
It was the first time in my life that anyone had asked this of me, and as I took the cigarette from my lips and put it in hers, I caught a thin bat's squeak of sexuality, inaudible to anyone but me.'

This book hit me, hard. I read it for a course in 'Catholic Literature' which was an excuse for my favorite professor to teach a small group of students about his all-time favorite books. He made up the name so he could teach it as a theology/literature course.

We read
Aug 03, 2007 Jason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the well-read and those who claim to be
Shelves: favorites
An English novel dating from near the end of World War II, Brideshead Revisited is an elaborate and fascinating reminiscence of a time passed. A novel told in reverie by eyes looking back.

At the core of the novel is the friendship between Oxford classmates Charles (the narrator) and Sebastian. One thing separates Charles and Sebastian. Class. A ubiquitous theme in the best English novels, portrayed here as well as it is in any counterpart in English fiction. One thing unites them. Affection. Per
Disclaimer: The views expressed hereafter by Mr. God's-Love concerning Evelyn Waugh's novel are exclusively his own and should not be interpreted as a disguised or fictionalized representation of my own views. The following, you must understand, is merely an act of reportage. Having not previously read the novel in question, I am ill-equipped to make judgments with respect to the reasonableness of Mr. God's-Love's opinion, although I might point out, relevantly or not, that he has been twice dia ...more
Matthew Klobucher
Since I first read it, Evelyn Waugh's masterpiece Brideshead Revisited has unequivocally been my favorite book. It's haunting, melancholy, ironically humorous swan song to all that is elegant and beautiful and pure in this world captivated me. It echoed in eloquent, lucid, and devastatingly satiric paragraphs my firm conviction that true Beauty and Love and even God Himself exist not far beyond the pale glitter of a heartless, selfish, utterly apathetic and drear world. It is an ode to the ideal ...more
It is difficult to encapsulate a book which strives to reach for so much over the course of its pages. I'm sure I will miss some things, but perhaps that's best with a book like this. An epic style classic, I mean. There's always something more to dig out of it.

The writing style is one of the most striking things about the book, let me just put that out there. This is due to the hodgepodge nature of the thing. The beginning of the book has quite a bit of high Romanticism, of a style more appropr
Sep 08, 2009 Joe rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Two totally separate, virtually unrelated books with over-the-top narration and no arc. Brideshead Revisited is divided into two books that take place ten years apart from each other. The narrator/main character is almost unrecognizable from one to the other, and no real explanation is given. Is a simpering fool in the first book, and a cold jerk in the second. His main obsession in the first book is almost entirely and perfunctorily absent from the second, and vice versa with his obsession from ...more
In his letter of 7 January 1945 Evelyn Waugh wrote to Nancy Mitford that (regarding Lady Marchmain) "no I am not on her side; but God is, who suffers fools gladly; and the book is about God." Nancy, in a subsequent letter (17 January 1945) commented that she was "immune from" the "subtle" Catholic propaganda supposedly in the novel. Well, I guess that I am in Nancy's camp, recognizing the excellence of this G.E.C. (Great English Classic) and in my own way fascinated by the role of God in it, I r ...more
Mar 31, 2013 Sue rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers of classics, British 1920s and 1930s
4 1/2 *

I still can recall watching the original Brideshead on Masterpiece Theater, along with most of my friends at the time. Being enthralled with the actors, performances and story. Charles ryder will always be Jeremy Irons for me. Now I've finally read the book behind that performance and am not at all disappointed.

As I settled in to read, I was immediately struck by the language, the period phrasing and speech, and became a bit doubtful as to whether I was actually going to enjoy this book
'Just the place to bury a crock of gold’ said Sebastian. ‘I should like to bury something precious in every place where I’ve been happy and then when I was old and ugly and miserable, I could come back and dig and remember.’ (p. 20)

This is a book about remembrance – of lost and betrayed relationships, vanished glory and the reminiscence of a disappearing world.

Grace Tjan

There was once a noble house called Brideshead
Of sacred and profane memories
Seat of the last of the Marchmains
An ancient pile with a false dome
Where painted classical deities cavorted
Reflected in gilt mirrors
Echoed in carved marbles
The chapel was Art Nouveau
The drawing room Chinoiserie
And the whole thing flanked by colonnades and pavilions
Lady Marchmain was a lady of religion
Perpetually at her Matins, Lauds and Vespers
Lord Marchmain had long fled the magnificent coop
To live
Aug 07, 2008 Edan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I know it's terrible to admit this--but I didn't dig Brideshead Revisited. Well, I did, at first: I liked the descriptions of Oxford after WWI, and Sebastian with his teddy bear named Aloysius (really, if someone had told me about the bear I would've read this novel years ago!). But then the story just meandered and hemmed and hawed through years and years. I found the narrator dull, and his relationship to Julia just didn't matter to me. I had no interest in the Catholic themes, which the entir ...more
Jun 12, 2015 S©aP rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to S©aP by: Stela
«Mio tema è la memoria, ospite alata (...) Questi ricordi, che sono la mia vita - poiché nulla possediamo con certezza tranne il passato - non mi hanno mai lasciato. Come i piccioni di Piazza S. Marco erano ovunque, in mezzo ai piedi, da soli, a coppie...»

I romanzi sono come gli abiti che proviamo a indossare: ve ne sono alcuni che ci si attagliano all'istante; ci piace come vestono, come "cadono", e troviamo eleganti, originali su di noi, i loro piccoli difetti. Non esiste l'abito perfetto, né
Brendon Schrodinger
In between the World Wars Charles Ryder starts at Oxford where he befriends Sebastian Flyte. Charles soon makes friends with much of Flyte's circle of friends and lives the high-life of booze and extravagance. Flyte invites Charles to spend the summer at Brideshead, the family home.

Brideshead Revisited is two-thirds a study on friendship and family, one-third melodrama. The story of Sebastian and Charles friendship is engaging and Charles' interaction with the Flyte family is wonderful. But it e
Momina Masood
Dec 18, 2015 Momina Masood rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone.
Warning: Here be spoilers (well, not really) and sentimentalism.

“He told me, and, on that instant, it was as though someone had switched off the wireless, and a voice that had been bawling in my ears, incessantly, fatuously, for days beyond number, had been suddenly cut short; an immense silence followed, empty at first, but gradually, as my outraged sense regained authority, full of a multitude of sweet and natural and long-forgotten sounds—for he had spoken a name that was all too familiar to
Oct 20, 2007 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
This is one of the two books I tend to read at least once a year (the other one is Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov). I've probably read it at least 25 times and I get something new from it every time. He's one of those writers who makes the English language sound decadent and beautiful.

It definitely contains the single best passage about food that I've ever seen - the scene with Charles Ryder and Rex Mottram eating pressed duck and caviar blinis in a little restaurant in London. The way he writes ab
Jun 10, 2008 booklady rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any anglophile
Shelves: classic, 1990s, 1980s
On the surface it's a book about two friends, the narrator, Charles Ryder, and his wonderful, but bizarre friend, Lord Sebastian Flyte. Eventually Charles befriends the entire Flyte family and it's this unusual friendship as well as the other relationships -- as they evolve over the course of many years -- which form the basis of the novel.

But actually it's a story about the difficulty of being a practicing Roman Catholic aristocrat in England in the 1930s. Charles, an agnostic, doesn't underst
Maria Clara
Apr 24, 2016 Maria Clara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
DELICIOSO! Y al mismo tiempo triste. Me ha encantado entrar en Oxford y ver cómo vivían; conocer al variopinto grupo de amigos de Charles: sobre todo a Sebastian y a su osito de peluche. Y aun así, al terminar de leerlo, tienes la sensación de que te han invitado a una gran fiesta llena de luces y de música en la que has bebido el mejor champán. Pero al mismo tiempo, y a medida que avanzas en la lectura, y sin darte cuenta, las luces se van apagando y la música suena más baja hasta silenciarse. ...more
Jan 17, 2012 Shovelmonkey1 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like bright young things with vile bodies
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: 1001 books list
Absolutely loved this, and am finding that despite my original half-arse preconceptions I have enjoyed a lot of books from this historical time period. Is this a sign I am developing discerning taste? Am I becoming more open minded? Doubtful, but I can only live in hope and keep on with the mind expanding forays into the more classic side literature. This will not stop me reading trashy smut as well but it means I look more high brow at least 50% of the time.

On the whole Brideshead Revisited is
May 30, 2014 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: england, fiction, europe
Wow, this book was dark. I've seen the movies and from those conjured up a story that had this dreamy quality of submerged attraction and envy--decorated with elegant old houses. But Brideshead Revisited the novel took me to a very dark and disturbing place. To me, the pieces that shone were the broken fragments of relationships: Charles and his horrible father, and the oppressive mother and Sebastian. Waugh deftly shows these strange, decaying bonds in a way that sticks with you, haunts you. I' ...more
Apr 12, 2016 Tim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“My theme is memory, that winged host.” There’s a haunting elegiac beauty to this novel which maybe makes it seem a little better than it really is. The writing is gorgeous, especially when Waugh is dealing with the passing of time. He’s rather like the English Fitzgerald in this book – the nostalgia for youth and high emotion, the mourning an era which he beautifully romanticises and painting what follows as grey and turgid. The characters are all brilliantly conceived and drawn, uniquely memor ...more
Laurel Hicks
7/14/09: Like Maugham's Of Human Bondage, Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited is an eloquent working out of the book of Ecclesiastes. It is the story of the vain search that, for the wise, ends with what Solomon and Dante and St. Augustine found. In case we don't notice Ecclesiastes in his novel, Waugh quotes its most famous phrase in the epilogue: "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." Then he quickly adds, "and yet that is not the last word." Waugh's beautifully evocative tale of the destruction ...more
Apr 28, 2013 Scott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: campus, 1940s
Soup of oseille, sole in white wine sauce, caneton à la presse, caviare aux blinis, lemon soufflé, wines, cognac, and cigars – few scenes in Brideshead Revisited (1945) better capture the sumptuous, decadent texture of the Waugh's encomium and critique of British aristocracy between the wars than Ryder's dinner at Paillard's. Indeed, one of the great pleasures of the book is savoring the novel's rich settings: Oxford, London, Venice, Paris, the Maghreb, and of course Brideshead Castle. We get to ...more
Stephanie Sun
Not since Open City has a book come alive for me most fully between the lines. Once it does Brideshead Revisited is crazy genius, heavy on the crazy.

Waugh gives ample clues about what he's doing, but you have to believe that this louche-editor's-son/self-styled-satirist/voluntary-Catholic knows what he's doing before you give into it fully. In that way, the book is kind of meta. It is a book about religious awakening written exclusively for staunch atheists by someone with a biography whose eve
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Evelyn Waugh's father Arthur was a noted editor and publisher. His only sibling Alec also became a writer of note. In fact, his book “The Loom of Youth” (1917) a novel about his old boarding school Sherborne caused Evelyn to be expelled from there and placed at Lancing College. He said of his time there, “…the whole of English education when I was brought up was to produce prose writers; it was al ...more
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“Sometimes, I feel the past and the future pressing so hard on either side that there's no room for the present at all.” 2788 likes
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