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Brideshead Revisited

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  93,659 ratings  ·  4,697 reviews
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 Marchmains 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 sis ...more
Paperback, 351 pages
Published January 30th 1982 by Back Bay Books (first published 1945)
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Cheryl Floyd Yes. Encourage him or her that it may start off slow or seem confusing with the setting jumping back and forth in time. But the climax and the end are…moreYes. Encourage him or her that it may start off slow or seem confusing with the setting jumping back and forth in time. But the climax and the end are worth it! This book is worthy of great discussions about what it is to be human and to be religious versus having faith. (less)

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really liked it Average rating 4.00  · 
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Paul Bryant
Apr 25, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Jim Fonseca
Oct 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Our narrator, a non-Catholic officer based on the home front in World War II Britain, revisits a mansion he first visited as a young man and reflects back on his close relationship with a Catholic family. A non-Catholic himself, he reports to us about their habits and customs almost as if he were an anthropologist visiting a tribe in the tropical rainforest. Not only are Catholics a minority in Britain, but the Anglican Church is the official state-sponsored religion. It's a great book and, of ...more
Jun 15, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Bright Young Things
Shelves: favorites
"Brideshead Revisited" is almost the opposite of Waugh's own "Vile Bodies"/"Bright Young Things" in that it starts off as a tragedy, or at least pretty damn close to E. M. Forster's "Maurice" terrain (thus tres tragique) and ends in such a jubilant & comedic form (sorry for this mega old spoiler). It seems to me that Waugh is a master of Contrasts, & it works all too well... the book ends & the reader is deeply disappointed that it does. I practically ignored most of Seattle as I read an old pap ...more

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
Sep 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
From one Sacred And Profane book (The Sacred and Profane Love Machine) to the next. Charles and Sebastian sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G--well, maybe not quite. Let's try this again: I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me, he's just a poor boy from a poor--no, definitely not from a poor family. Sigh, how can anyone help but love little lost boy/spoiled brat/drunkard Sebastian Flyte? Has anyone tried giving him a good smack? There's perhaps no better argument in favor of corporal punishment. Alth ...more
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
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 magnificent Br
Aug 24, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A laborious read that didn't hold my attention and became more of a chore than a pleasure therefore 30 % through I made decision that this modern classic just didn't fit me.

I have learned after many years of reading that its OK not to like a book that others have loved.

I download this on Audio and was quite excited when as it was narrated by Jeremy Irons and from the very first chapter I just couldn't warn to his narration and found this a slow moving and overly dramatic audio book. I d
Lauren G
Sep 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
"I loathe snobs," says Saul Bellow, "and Waugh is one of the worst sort...but snobbery and piousness?" Saul Bellow can't even. And you see his point. No one in Brideshead Revisited deserves redemption, and yet here it is, with the bullying certainty unique to converts. Evelyn Waugh (he's a dude - here's a pronunciation tutorial) converted to Roman Catholicism at 27, and here we are with one of the great Catholic novels, in no way as subtle or conflicted as the work of fellow convert Graham Green ...more
This GR book description is succinct and to the point. It follows here:

“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 Marchmains 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 only h
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
Jul 09, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 04, 2009 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
Jul 14, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: brittish-lit
Brideshead Revisited is a tragicomedy set in the in-between the period of First and Second World War. The story is centered on an aristocratic catholic family and their personal relationship with the main protagonist of the story - Charles Ryder. Charles's attachment to the family through Lord Sebastian Flyte begins at a difficult time for the Marchmain family, and he unwittingly entwines himself in their troubled and complicated lives and is never able to free him completely from that attachmen ...more
May 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
“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 it up and remember.” - Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited

Brideshead Revisited is the memory of a happy place that holds unrelenting charm when time has all but erased the felicity that is bound up in the innocence and exuberance of youth. Waugh writes in a prose style that is luscious and incongruently intoxicating, especially since the story
Mar 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reread due to this beautiful penguin edition designed by Peter Bentley.
Admired Brideshead much more this time round. Even the Julia half.

"I had been there before; I knew all about it." 22

"I am very contrite. Aloysius won't speak to me until he sees I am forgiven, so please come to luncheon today. Sebastian Flyte." 32

"The languor of youth - how unique and quintessential it is! How quickly, how irrevocably lost." 77

"Anyway, however you look at it, happiness doesn't seem to have much to do with
Matthew Klobucher
Jun 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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

“If you asked me now who I am, the only answer I could give with any certainty would be my name. For the rest: my loves, my hates, down even to my deepest desires, I can no longer say whether these emotions are my own, or stolen from those I once so desperately wished to be.”
This quote fully captures the essence of what Brideshead Revisited is all about, love. A love that changes a person’s outlook on love itself. This is a story about the influence of the people y
Susan's Reviews
Nov 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Read this one years ago. I remember thinking, after reading this book, that the British were really too hung up on religion. Charles Ryder was an atheist at heart, but became a Catholic later on (more, I believe, because of his hopeless love for Julia Marchmain than because of any real religious fervour). Charles was enchanted by Sebastian's dramatics, his eccentric lifestyle and all of the beautiful things he surrounded himself with. Sebastian's biggest flaw was his heavy drinking, which he bla ...more
Apr 10, 2010 added it
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
Jun 10, 2008 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
Connie G
Jul 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Evelyn Waugh's writing is brilliant in this novel about searching for love, a family, and a relationship with God. Charles Ryder, a middle-class student at Oxford, meets Sebastian Flyte whose aristocratic family resides at Brideshead. His life becomes caught up with the Anglo-Catholic family, especially the flamboyant, alcoholic Sebastian, and his sister Julia who becomes Charles' great love. Pre-Vatican II Catholicism, with all its rituals, pervades the household. Sebastian's controlling mother ...more
Nov 15, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
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 dis
Aug 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
“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
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 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An absorbing and sumptuous eulogy for the end of the golden age of the British aristocracy. Beautifully written and with so much to enjoy: faith and - in particular - Catholicism, duty, love, desire, grandeur, decay, memory, and tragedy.

At its heart there is a beautiful and enchanting story.

The various characters, right down to the most minor ones, are stunningly and credibly drawn - having just finished the book I feel that I have been amongst them and known them.

I have read most of Evelyn W
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Catching up on Cl...: Brideshead Revisited: Spoilers 34 70 Oct 13, 2020 12:10PM  
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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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