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Brideshead Revisited: The Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder

really liked it 4.0  ·  Rating details ·  82,163 Ratings  ·  3,737 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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Barbara Definitely appropriate. I first read this book in Contemporary Literature class when I was a senior in high school. And, this was a Catholic high…moreDefinitely appropriate. I first read this book in Contemporary Literature class when I was a senior in high school. And, this was a Catholic high school.(less)
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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
...more
Schmacko
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
Fabian
Jul 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Bright Young Things
Shelves: favorites
"Brideshead Revisited" is almost the opposite of "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" territory (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 a paperb ...more
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
Diane
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
...more
Aubrey
2.5/5

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
...more
Cecily
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: http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...).


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

SEGREGATION
People we
...more
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
...more
Camille Stein
May 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
voxsartoria — Knits For The Chill 194. Anthony Andrews and...










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.

...

Perhaps all our loves are merely hints and symbols; vagabond-language scrawled on gate-posts and paving-stones along the weary road that others have tramped before us; perhaps you and I are types and this sadness which so
...more
Chrissie
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
...more
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
...more
Jason
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
...more
Alex
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
Kelly
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
...more
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
David
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
Ailsa
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
...more
BrokenTune
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 disc
...more
Joe
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
Laysee
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
...more
booklady
Jun 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: any anglophile
Shelves: 1990s, 1980s, classic
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
...more
James
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
Nigeyb
Apr 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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
...more
Sue
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
...more
Grace Tjan
BRIDESHEAD REVISITED

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
...more
Tim
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
Inderjit Sanghera
Nov 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
‘Brideshead Revisited’ is the story of Charles Ryder and his relationship with the aristocratic Flyte family; the whimsical yet troubled Sebastian, the glacial and remote Julia and the austere older brother Bridey.

The novel in many ways reflects Charles’s eventual vocation as a (utterly mediocre) painter of aristocratic buildings and domiciles which will soon be consigned to the vestiges of history, so Charles attempts to capture the fading aristocracy before their inevitable decline. However t
...more
Sarah
Oct 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
S©aP
Sep 29, 2014 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
...more
Elizabeth
Dec 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: england, europe, fiction
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
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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
More about Evelyn Waugh

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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.” 2855 likes
“It doesn't matter what people call you unless they call you pigeon pie and eat you up.” 1210 likes
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