torstai 10. kesäkuuta 2010

Evelyn Waugh: Brideshead Revisited

My theme is memory, that winged host that soared about me one grey morning of war-time.
These memories, which are my life - for we possess nothing certainly except the past - were always with me.

The name Evelyn Waugh and especially his probably best-known novel Brideshead Revisited pop up now and again on websites and blogs about reading and literature. So I decided to find out what all the fuss is about and read the classic.

I have to admit that I didn't enjoy the book very much. The novel was packed full of fancy metaphors and verbiage, suffocating manners and politeness. The entire plot seemed to vanish somewhere between the old-fashioned Englishness and the grand aristocratic mansion of Brideshead.

The novel tells the story of the Marchmain family as seen through the eyes of Charles Ryder, a painter. Lord Marchmain is an unconventional man living with his mistress in Europe. Lady Marchmain controls and manipulates her four children ruthlessly. The eldest, Brideshead, and the youngest, Cordelia, are more interested in following their mother's footsteps. The other two, Julia and Sebastian, are more rebellious, and Charles Ryder is strangely attracted to these two siblings, one after the other. The novel is set in the time between the two World Wars, a time of uncertainty and great changes in Europe.

The recent film version of the novel, directed by Julian Jarrold, is very different from the book. Despite excellent actors like Emma Thompson and Michael Gambon, even the film was somewhat disappointing.

Evelyn Waugh: Brideshead Revisited: The Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder. Penguin Books. 1982.

Wikipedia: Brideshead Revisited
Wikipedia: Evelyn Waugh

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