Brideshead Revisited

By Evelyn Waugh,

Book cover of Brideshead Revisited

Book description

It is WW2 and Captain Charles Ryder reflects on his time at Oxford during the twenties and a world now changed. As a lonely student Charles was captivated by the outrageous and decadent Sebastian Flyte and invited to spend time at the Flyte's family home - the magnificent Brideshead. Here…

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Why read it?

5 authors picked Brideshead Revisited as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

No doubt this is a book (and its multiple TV and movie adaptations) with which many are familiar, but its complete title is Brideshead Revisited: The Sacred & Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder. Sacred and profane – if you are thinking religion, you are correct. 

Catholicism lays its heavy hand throughout this stately novel, and when the book begins, our narrator, Charles Ryder, tells us that he’s been to Brideshead Castle before. The estate is housing for British soldiers during WWII, but Brideshead and Charles go back more than twenty years, and this is merely the beginning of the…

A sweeping novel that seems at first to be suffused with the glamour of its characters and their lives; their vast estates, ancient family names, immense privilege. And then, as you read more, it becomes deeper and sadder. The struggle of good people to escape forces that are much stronger than they are. The failures of love and communication that lead to alienation and heartache. The story of a family, of the individuals within that family, and of the bleak ending of an era of ease and privilege. The writing is beautiful, and the characters will stay with you forever.

I fell in love with Evelyn Waugh’s novel when I was studying abroad in Scotland as an undergraduate. A friend living in the dodgy flat across the way from my dodgy flat lent me his paperback copy, and I read it voraciously while wrapped in a cocoon of blankets and spare clothing in my drafty bedroom. 

At its heart, Brideshead is a novel about a great friendship, a great love, and a great family’s darkness. It follows artist Charles Ryder as he falls in love with the wealthy, aristocratic Marchmain family and their beautiful English estate in the decades in…

From Chelsey's list on charismatic, yet tragic families.

Especially when dealing with often highly abstract matters of spelling and grammar in ancient manuscripts and inscriptions, as I do most of the time, it is essential to cultivate the affective side of one’s personality in order not to become a boring number cruncher. Brideshead Revisited offers much more than a melancholic farewell to the lost world of the old British upper class through the eyes of a history student-turned painter and his special friendship with an ill-fated noble family. The playful tone camouflages many profound reflections on art, friendship, and conversion. As I received my undergraduate training at Oxford,…

From Holger's list on becoming a scholar.

A monumental portrait of time and place, this seductive novel transports readers deep inside the private world of the English nobility in the waning days of a gilded age of power and privilege. From the 1920s to the early 1940s, we follow in the footsteps of protagonist Charles Ryder as he becomes infatuated with the wealthy Marchmain family, forging complicated friendships with siblings Sebastian and Julia Flyte. Against the backdrop of Brideshead Castle, a singular story of love and loss—and of salvaging who and/or what remains among the ruins—plays out most provocatively.

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