Joe's Reviews > Brideshead Revisited

Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
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did not like it

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 the second.
The writing is laughably intense and painfully overworked. This can work as a device to indicate an important trait of the first person narrator (see Lolita), but here it was clearly Waugh talking and not Ryder.
Most annoyingly the climax revolves around a character that is hardly in any other part of the book and the final confrontation between the two main characters limps uninterestingly and flacidly to a point that likely didn't need making.
I understand this is one of the best books ever written. I'm not entirely sure why. Maybe the portrayal of life at the time is incredibly accurate and probing. Maybe the way he weaves his absurdly overdrawn paragraphs is seen as revolutionary and impressive. Maybe his ability to make his characters change without any explanation or without making the reader care was thought to be one-of-a-kind.
Whatever, critics.
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Reading Progress

September 4, 2009 – Shelved
Started Reading
September 8, 2009 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-10 of 10 (10 new)

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Erin Well said! This is the review I wish I had written.

message 2: by M-n (new) - rated it 5 stars

M-n oh dear didn't follow the narrative properly if you think that..

message 3: by Tim (new) - rated it 3 stars

Tim I tend to agree with this review. There is good writing ability by the author but - the plot, character arcs, etc... not aptly handled. I found the novel to drag on pointlessly and only stuck with it out of dogged determination, not out of enjoyment.

Nanci Svensson I love Brideshead Revisited, but I am fairly sure this is due to a certain campy and totally gay vibe and ambience of the novel that speaks to the histrionic side of me. I liked your review, you have many points that certainly are valid, but I think you may have missed that certain "'we were never being boring'-nostalgia by proxy" that many avid fans of this book enjoy so thoroughly.
But thanks for a very thoughtful review. I am now re-reading the book and now I will have your critique in the back of my mind while reading it...

message 5: by Lisa (new) - added it

Lisa So bored. Am I missing something?

David Gay vibe? lol

message 7: by M-n (new) - rated it 5 stars

M-n Wow you really didn't get any of it at all..

Greg Joe, agree, final death scene is the big flaw of the entire book. And it does seem like a different book.

Jill I agree with Joe's review. I found it tedious and disappointing. My edition included letters from Waugh stating that some readers would not be intelligent enough to see it was a story of Catholic faith. I didn't see that as the central theme. I'm done with Waugh and it was my bad luck to read a Graham Green as my next book (The End of the Affair).

David Lol

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