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"The April rain, the April rain,
Comes slanting down in fitful showers,
Then from the furrow shoots the grain,
And banks are fledged with nestling flowers;
And in grey shawl and woodland bowers
The cuckoo through the April rain
Calls once again."

Mathilde Blind, April Rain
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Brideshead Revisited

mheredgemheredge TeacherHere and therePosts: 31,085 mod
edited May 2017 in Books and Poetry
This classic by Evelyn Waugh was first published in 1945 and recounts the life and romances of Charles Ryder, including his friendship with the Flyte family, rich English Catholics who live in a palatial mansion called Brideshead Castle. Set during the period from the 1920s until the early 40s the novel explores themes such as nostalgia for the English aristocracy, Catholicism, and the nearly overt homosexuality of Sebastian Flyte's friends at Oxford University.


In 1981 it was dramatised by ITV and until Downton Abbey, was one of the most popular televised period dramas. Starring Jeremy Irons and Anthony Andrews, the serial was rated tenth on a list of the 100 Greatest British Television Programmes compiled by the British Film Institute. In 2007, the serial was listed as one of Time magazine's "100 Best TV Shows of All-Time" and in 2010, it ranked second in The Guardian newspaper's list of the top 50 TV dramas of all time. In 2015, The Telegraph listed it as number 1 in the greatest television adaptations.

In 2008 Brideshead Revisited was released as a feature film starring Emma Thompson. It was filmed at Castle Howard in North Yorkshire, which was also used as the set for the TV series.

This Youtube video talks about the making of the movie and includes some clips.

The book is read by John Guilgud:

The theme music to the series is evocative of the lifestyle of the aristocracy during the early part of the twentieth century.

Post edited by mheredge on


  • mheredgemheredge Teacher Here and therePosts: 31,085 mod
    This gives a good summary of the episodes of the TV series: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brideshead_Revisited_(TV_serial)

  • mheredgemheredge Teacher Here and therePosts: 31,085 mod
    Brideshead Revisited, The Sacred & Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder is a novel by English writer Evelyn Waugh, first published in 1945. It follows, from the 1920s to the early 1940s, the life and romances of the protagonist Charles Ryder, including his friendship with the Flytes, a family of wealthy English Catholics who live in a palatial mansion called Brideshead Castle. Ryder has relationships with two of the Flytes: Sebastian and Julia. The novel explores themes including nostalgia for the age of English aristocracy, Catholicism, and the nearly overt homosexuality of Sebastian Flyte's coterie at Oxford University.

    In the United States, Brideshead Revisited was the Book of the Month Club selection for January 1946. In 1998, the Modern Library ranked Brideshead Revisited No. 80 on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. In 2003, the novel was listed at number 45 on the BBC survey The Big Read. In 2005, it was chosen by Time magazine as one of the one hundred best English-language novels from 1923 to the present. In 2009, Newsweek magazine listed it as one of the 100 best books of world literature.

    In 1981 Brideshead Revisited was adapted as an 11-episode TV serial, produced by Granada Television and aired on ITV, starring Jeremy Irons as Charles Ryder and Anthony Andrews as Lord Sebastian Flyte. The bulk of the serial was directed by Charles Sturridge, with a few sequences filmed by Michael Lindsay-Hogg. John Mortimer was given a credit as writer, but most of the scripts were based on work by producer Derek Granger.

    There has also been a BBC radio four part adaptation to mark the 70th anniversary of its publication in 2003, and in 2008 BBC Audiobooks released an unabridged reading of the book by Jeremy Irons. The recording is 11.5 hours long and consists of 10 CDs.

    In 2008 Brideshead Revisited was developed into a feature film of the same title, with Emma Thompson as Lady Marchmain, Matthew Goode as Charles Ryder, and Ben Whishaw as Lord Sebastian Flyte. The movie was directed by Julian Jarrold and adapted by Jeremy Brock and Andrew Davies.

    In 1923, protagonist and narrator Charles Ryder, an undergraduate studying history at a college very like Hertford College, Oxford, is befriended by Lord Sebastian Flyte, the younger son of the aristocratic Lord Marchmain and an undergraduate at Christ Church. Sebastian introduces Charles to his eccentric and aesthetic friends, including the haughty and homosexual Anthony Blanche. Sebastian also takes Charles to his family's palatial mansion, Brideshead Castle, in Wiltshire[1] where Charles later meets the rest of Sebastian's family, including his sister Julia.

    During the long summer holiday Charles returns home to London, where he lives with his widowed father, Edward Ryder. The conversations there between Charles and Edward provide some of the best-known comic scenes in the novel. Charles is called back to Brideshead after Sebastian incurs a minor injury, and Sebastian and Charles spend the remainder of the holiday together.

    Sebastian's family are Roman Catholic, which influences the Flytes' lives as well as the content of their conversations, all of which surprises Charles, who had always assumed Christianity was "without substance or merit". Lord Marchmain had converted from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism to marry his wife, but he later abandoned both his marriage and his new religion, and moved to Venice, Italy. Left alone, Lady Marchmain focuses even more on her faith, which is also enthusiastically espoused by her eldest son, Lord Brideshead ("Bridey"), and by her youngest daughter, Cordelia.

    Sebastian, a troubled young man, descends into alcoholism, drifting away from the family over a two-year period. He flees to Morocco, where his drinking ruins his health. He eventually finds some solace as an under-porter and object of charity at a Catholic monastery in Tunisia.

    Sebastian's drifting leads to Charles's own estrangement from the Flytes. Charles marries and fathers two children, but he becomes cold towards his wife, and she is unfaithful to him. He eventually forms a relationship with Sebastian's younger sister Julia. Julia has married but separated from the rich but unsophisticated Canadian businessman Rex Mottram. This marriage caused great sorrow to her mother, because Rex, though initially planning to convert to Roman Catholicism, turns out to have divorced a previous wife in Canada, so he and Julia ended up marrying without fanfare in an Anglican church that accepts divorced people.

    Charles and Julia plan to divorce their respective spouses so that they can marry each other. On the eve of the Second World War, the ageing Lord Marchmain, terminally ill, returns to Brideshead to die in his ancestral home. Appalled by the marriage of his eldest son Brideshead to a middle-class widow past childbearing age, he names Julia heir to the estate, which prospectively offers Charles marital ownership of the house. However, Lord Marchmain's return to the faith on his deathbed changes the situation: Julia decides she cannot enter a sinful marriage with Charles, who has also been moved by Lord Marchmain's reception of the sacraments.

    The plot concludes in the early spring of 1943 (or possibly 1944 – the date is disputed). Charles is "homeless, childless, middle-aged and loveless". He has become an army officer, after establishing a career as an architectural artist, and finds himself unexpectedly billeted at Brideshead, which has been taken into military use. He finds the house damaged by the army, but the private chapel, closed after Lady Marchmain's death in 1926, has been reopened for the soldiers' worship. It occurs to him that the efforts of the builders – and, by extension, God's efforts – were not in vain, although their purposes may have appeared, for a time, to have been frustrated.

    Nostalgia for an age of English nobility

    The Flyte family is widely found to symbolise the English nobility. One reads in the book that Brideshead has "the atmosphere of a better age", and (referring to the deaths of Lady Marchmain's brothers in the Great War) "these men must die to make a world for Hooper ... so that things might be safe for the travelling salesman, with his polygonal pince-nez, his fat, wet handshake, his grinning dentures".

    According to Martin Amis, the book "squarely identifies egalitarianism as its foe and proceeds to rubbish it accordingly".

    Charles and Sebastian's relationship: The question of whether the relationship between Charles and Sebastian is homosexual or platonic has been debated, particularly in an extended exchange between David Bittner and John Osborne in the Evelyn Waugh Newsletter and Studies from 1987 to 1991. In 1994 Paul Buccio argued that the relationship was in the Victorian tradition of "intimate male friendships", which includes "Pip and Herbert Pocket [from Charles Dickens' Great Expectations], ... Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson, Ratty and Mole (The Wind in the Willows)". David Higdon argued that "[I]t is impossible to regard Sebastian as other than gay; [and] Charles is so homoerotic he must at least be cheerful"; and that the attempt of some critics to downplay the homoerotic dimension of Brideshead is part of "a much larger and more important sexual war being fought as entrenched heterosexuality strives to maintain its hegemony over important twentieth century works". In 2008 Christopher Hitchens derided "the ridiculous word 'platonic' that for some peculiar reason still crops up in discussion of the story".
  • mheredgemheredge Teacher Here and therePosts: 31,085 mod
    Here's the text of what you read about Brideshead Revisited @markov, @Abhi and @april.

    Next week we will have a look at Outlanders.
  • jackelliotjackelliot Posts: 820 OTT

    I imagined brideshead in cloisters of a monastery rather that Oxford


    great for imagination
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