Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical
hermionesviolin

Brideshead Revisited (Evelyn Waugh)

The copy my library had was the revised version with new authorial preface (1959) for what it’s worth.

Started Brideshead Revisited and the Prologue reminded me of Catch-22 [because that's one of the few war stories i've ever read] but bored, but then you hit Chapter 1 of Book 1 and Wham! omgosogay. ♥ Am reminded of Maurice, largely because how many books have i read about adult men-who-love-men set before 1980?

“My dear, I may be inverted but I am not insatiable. Come back when you are alone.”
“Dear sweet clodhoppers, if you knew anything about sexual psychology you would know that nothing could give me keener pleasure than to be manhandled by you meaty boys. It would be an ecstasy of the very naughtiest kind. So if any of you wishes to be my partner in joy come and seize me. If, on the other hand, you simply wish to satisfy some obscure and less easily classified libido and see me bathe, come with me quietly, dear louts, to the fountain.”

‘. . . It is a little, shy wine like a gazelle.’
‘Like a leprechaun.’
‘Dappled, in a tapestry meadow.’
‘Like a flute by still water.’
‘. . . And this is a wise old wine.
‘A prophet in a cave.’
‘. . . And this is a necklace of pearls on a white neck.’
‘Like a swan.’
‘Like the last unicorn.’

‘where can we hide in fair weather, we orphans of the storm?’

And bunches of other good stuff, but I haven’t gotten around to typing it all up.

And I learned that “wolfram” is in fact a real word. Who knew? It’s apparently just a synonym for tungsten, but this exchange is great.
‘They can’t fight. They haven’t the money; they haven’t the oil.’
‘They haven’t the wolfram; they haven’t the men.’
‘They haven’t the guts.’
Oh, and Cordelia & Lear! With Cinderella foreshadowing!

She never loved him, you know, as we do. -Cordelia to Charles re: Julia and Sebastian

I’ve been meaning to read it since my advisor gave a talk on it when he got some chair. I had forgotten (because I associate him with the authors he teaches at Smith) that he wrote a biography of Waugh.

The Times Literary Supplement says: "Patey seems to have read not only everything his subject wrote, but a great deal of background material." That pretty much sums up my advisor’s approach to everything.

Okay, after reading this book review? The fact that MLN does not own this biography is a great woe unto me.
It is impossible to pay sufficient tribute to the chapter Patey devotes to Brideshead Revisited. It is, simply, the very best interpretation of the novel of which I am aware. From his revisionist treatment of "the age of Hooper" (a parody of the "Century of the Common Man"), to his delicate and thoughtful discussion of Waugh on homosexuality, to his careful exegesis of Lord Marchmain’s deathbed conversion, to his brilliant analysis of Sebastian’s alcoholism and his relation to Lady Marchmain (and the resentment that the need to be forgiven can engender), to the complex religious faith of Lord Brideshead, Cordelia, Julia, and eventually Charles Ryder, the author betrays his great love for the novel, and deep appreciation for the richness of its themes.
A Guardian piece says:
Recommended biography
Douglas Lane Patey makes Waugh likeable; Selina Hastings puts him in social context; Martin Stannard is highly academic. Waugh's letters, diaries and a volume of autobiography, A Little Learning, have been published. See also the semi-autobiographical The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold, written after a series of paranoid hallucinations, and the wonderfully acerbic Diaries.

Damn, I had forgotten just how brilliant that man is.
Douglas Lane Patey, Sophia Smith Professor of English, holds an A.B. from Hamilton College, masters' degrees (in philosophy and English) from the University of Virginia, and a Ph.D. in English from Virginia. He has been the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Guggenheim Foundation.
Tags: books: read, smith: prof: dpatey
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