Should have read classics discussion

Group Book Discussions > Brideshead Revisited

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message 1: by Lisa, the usurper (new)

Lisa (lmmmml) | 1864 comments Mod
This is the group read for April. Please remember spoiler alerts and happy reading!

message 2: by Lisa, the usurper (new)

Lisa (lmmmml) | 1864 comments Mod
I'm picking up my copy today from the library and hope to get started tonight, if the weather will cooperate and be cold.

message 3: by ☯Emily (new)

☯Emily  Ginder I'm about 1/3 through the book and am enjoying it.

Another Goodreads group is also reading this book. They have provided a link that might help us understand some of the obscure references in the book. It also explains some of the British slang.

I have already found it helpful in understanding some phrases. It is organized by chapters.

message 4: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 153 comments I don't normally watch movies of books I read, but the Granada version of Brideshead Revisited was strongly recommended to me. It's really a mini-series, and not so mini -- roughly 15 hours for the full series. I haven't finished it, but so far it's very detailed, follows the book almost exactly as far in the book as I've read (about 1/3), and uses the first person voice for bits that aren't easy to show in film, and expands on bits that are only alluded to in the book (for example, the visit to Venice is much better fleshed out in the film than in the book).

To say more about it t this point would involve spoilers, so I won't, but if you have the time, it's quite good, though sometimes fairly disturbing.

message 5: by Lisa, the usurper (new)

Lisa (lmmmml) | 1864 comments Mod
Any initial thoughts or comments?

message 6: by ☯Emily (new)

☯Emily  Ginder Why do you think Sebastian carried a teddy bear around? Was he insecure, attention seeking, devoted to a childhood toy, etc?

message 7: by Lesley (new)

Lesley | 68 comments ☯Emily wrote: "Why do you think Sebastian carried a teddy bear around? Was he insecure, attention seeking, devoted to a childhood toy, etc?"

I have been thinking about that too. I think, despite his 19 years of age, he is still very childish in many ways. Everyone needs to be owned - people belong to someone as with Charles who he sees as his and doesn't much like it when others are seen to 'intrude'.

He still has a close relationship with his Nanny, and he often displays childlike behaviours when wanting something - I must have ... I've just got to have ... Look at how he announces he is dying when he has only broken a small bone in his foot! His Mother didn't even permit him to have an allowance, "Mummy likes everything to be a present". At this I wondered because he is babied by his Mother in this way if this is the reason for his being naive, or whether he is a little simple. But then you'd think he wouldn't be at college if it were the latter?

So, why is he treated in this way? What is his place in the family - youngest child perhaps? Is the way he clings to his childhood, Nanny and teddy bear because he is truly the child who never grew up?

message 8: by ☯Emily (new)

☯Emily  Ginder Well, I have read ahead enough to know that he wasn't the youngest child. Hopefully, the reason will become clearer as I read further.

message 9: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 153 comments ☯Emily wrote: "Why do you think Sebastian carried a teddy bear around? Was he insecure, attention seeking, devoted to a childhood toy, etc?"

All of the above? In addition, I think it was his way of being different, having something special about him.

I'm far enough that there's another point, though for those still early in the book it may be a spoiler, so I'll hide it.

(view spoiler)

message 10: by Lesley (new)

Lesley | 68 comments Uh, I came in to say Sebastian was neither naive or simple, and give my reason for believing this but I see Everyman has got there first.
(view spoiler)

This is what causes me to draw this conclusion. Interestingly I notice the teddy bear isn't mentioned now.

message 11: by May (new)

May | 1 comments I've finished Brideshead Revisited back in January, so spoilers.
(view spoiler)

message 12: by ☯Emily (new)

☯Emily  Ginder I am only halfway through the book, but it seems obvious that Sebastian is an alcoholic. He acts like many who have an addiction. He feels anyone who tries to limit his drinking is trying to control him. He goes to great lengths to find money to buy those drinks. He disappears quite often, usually in a devious way. He resents any and all efforts of help. All efforts to help him fail because, at least so far, he doesn't want help. Am interested to see what happens to him.

message 13: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 153 comments May wrote: "I've finished Brideshead Revisited back in January, so spoilers."

I've also finished, but will wait until later in the month for substantive discussion of it. Enjoyed your spoiler comments, though I question some of them and will look forward to a full discussion with more readers.

message 14: by Lesley (new)

Lesley | 68 comments I too have finished and enjoyed the story although the ending was not what I expected.I found the way a couple of elements were introduced puzzling and am looking forward to further discussion too.

message 15: by Lisa, the usurper (new)

Lisa (lmmmml) | 1864 comments Mod
I have noticed that I tend to have a harder time getting into book from the early twentieth century. I'm not quite sure why, between this book, and the Edith Wharton books, I just can't keep myself interested. I'm trying to figure out if it is a writing style or a subject thing. Does anyone else have this problem with books from certain time periods?

message 16: by Casceil (new)

Casceil Lisa, I'm interested in your comment. I like writers from this period, particularly Edith Wharton, and I find that time period interesting. There is something different about it. I'm not sure how much is the setting, and how much is something about attitudes of the times, the feel of impending change. The writing style does tend toward long sentences with multiple clauses, so you are forced to hold a lot in your head at one time, and skimming would not work. I'm a fairly slow reader, but I can see where this type of writing could be less enjoyable for someone who normally reads quickly. (And sometimes it's too much for me. I have bounced on a couple of Henry James novels.)

message 17: by ☯Emily (last edited Apr 13, 2013 08:04PM) (new)

☯Emily  Ginder Lisa, this book was published during World War II (1945) and deals with the time period between the two great wars. It doesn't have the same feel to me as Wharton's most famous books which were mostly published before 1920. It could be you are just not as interested in these time periods. That was a problem with me for a while. 20th century lit had no appeal. However, now that we are in the 21st century, these books seem more like classics and have become dated, revealing the mindset of the times. What is surprising me in Brideshead Revisited is the openness towards homosexual behavior. It has a very modern feel in that respect.

message 18: by Lisa, the usurper (last edited Apr 13, 2013 06:37PM) (new)

Lisa (lmmmml) | 1864 comments Mod
I think that it might be that both of you might have hit on some of the reasons. I do tend to read quickly and the structure does not lead to a quick read, plus that time frame between the wars is not in my interest. I never noticed it until last weekend at a bookclub that I attend. Someone had brought the 1000 books that you should read before you die, and as I perused the 20th century, I realized that many of the books were ones that I started and never finished or really disliked. Go figure! I'm trying though ladies!

message 19: by Mo (new)

Mo | 43 comments I have enjoyed reading all of your comments. I just started this morning and find it very different from most things I have read. I can't wait to see where this novel goes!

message 20: by Lisa, the usurper (new)

Lisa (lmmmml) | 1864 comments Mod
I have to say that I'm not very far into the book, but after reading the spoilers above, I would have to agree with those comments. I'm pretty sure that it would be ok with everyone to start openly talking about the book. It is the 19th so please feel free to discuss the book in more depth. I'm not far, but I will not pitch a fit, I promise! I have to amend my previous comment and say that the farther I get in the book, I find it easier to get into it.

message 21: by ☯Emily (new)

☯Emily  Ginder I found the first part of the book easy to read and enjoyable. However, the book got progressively grim. There is always the quiet beat of war drums in the background. I think that contributes to the hopelessness and sadness of the ending. I began to dislike Charles, the narrator, especially how he ignored his children. I liked Sebastian in the beginning of the book, but he disappears somewhere in the middle and we only hear negative reports of him thereafter. Overall, I was disappointed in the book.

message 22: by Casceil (new)

Casceil I have mixed feelings about the book, but I love the beginning enough that, despite the grim ending, I still like the book. The prose is beautiful. The characters are interesting and engaging. Sometimes people you know and admire in real life turn out to have feet of clay, and I found Sebastian's fall believable. The book has some wonderfully witty dialogue. My feelings for the book are probably colored by having seen the TV mini-series, many years ago, before I ever read the book, so that when I read the book now I still see those actors and hear their voices in my head. But I have read the book a couple of times since I saw the series, and every time I read it, I marvel at at how the author brings these characters to life.

message 23: by ☯Emily (new)

☯Emily  Ginder I read the book in October 1980 and loved it. It was probably read with TV mini-series fresh in my memory as well as a recent trip to England where I visited many of these gorgeous homes. Twenty-three years later, I read it differently. I certainly don't think it is as well written as I remembered. I don't even think it is Waugh's best work any more.

message 24: by Casceil (new)

Casceil Emily, what do you thing is Waugh's best work?

message 25: by ☯Emily (new)

☯Emily  Ginder Since I haven't read much Waugh recently, I'll have to reread them. I remember all of them being fascinating, but since I reread Brideshead and didn't like it very much, maybe I'll change my mind about all of them. The last I read was The Ordeal Of Gilbert Pinfold, which I thought was wonderful.

message 26: by Casceil (new)

Casceil Thanks, Emily. I have added it to my very optimistic and very long "to be read" list.

message 27: by Mo (new)

Mo | 43 comments I have to say that I'm struggling with this novel. I'm usually a fast reader, but I'm only about halfway through after two weeks. None of the characters are really grabbing me, and the plot line just doesn't seem very interesting. I'm going to push through and hoope for the best.

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