Brideshead Revisited Unabridged Audio Cassette – Audiobook, Oct 26 2000
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A departure from Evelyn Waugh's normally comic theater, Brideshead Revisited concerns the tale of Charles Ryder, a captain in the British Army in post-World War I England. Unlike Waugh's previous narrators, Ryder is an intelligent man, looking back on much of his life from his current post in Oxford. He strikes a special friendship with Lord Sebastian Flyte as the setting moves to the Brideshead estate and a baroque castle that recalls England's prior standing in the world. Ryder falls for Flyte's sister while families, politics and religions collide. What makes the book extraordinary is Waugh's sharp, vivid style and his use of dialect and minor characters. This is one of Waugh's finest accomplishments and a superb book. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
In this classic tale of British life between the World Wars, Waugh parts company with the satire of his earlier works to examine affairs of the heart. Charles Ryder finds himself stationed at Brideshead, the family seat of Lord and Lady Marchmain. Exhausted by the war, he takes refuge in recalling his time spent with the heirs to the estate before the war--years spent enthralled by the beautiful but dissolute Sebastian and later in a more conventional relationship with Sebastian's sister Julia. Ryder portrays a family divided by an uncertain investment in Roman Catholicism and by their confusion over where the elite fit in the modern world. Although Waugh was considered by many to be more successful as a comic than as a wistful commentator on human relationships and faith, this novel was made famous by a 1981 BBC TV dramatization. Irons's portrayal of Ryder catapulted Irons to stardom, and in this superb reading his subtle, complete characterizations highlight Waugh's ear for the aristocratic mores of the time. Fervent Anglophiles will be thrilled by this excellent rendition of a favorite; Irons's reading saves this dinosaur from being suffocated by its own weight.
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Top Customer Reviews
Imagine my delight, then, when I found this unabridged reading by Irons himself! My delight was rewarded. Irons' perfect reading of this book opened up a whole new world for me. This time, I heard and felt the absolute poetry of Waugh's words--his ability to take his reader from sultry ... summertime to the slums of the Casbah to a storm at sea that is the perfect metaphor for the turmoil to come. Waugh never wasted a word. Never said more than he had to say. Never helped the reader by sugarcoating the story. And the result was breathtaking.
Maybe because I was listening this time rather than reading, I paid much more attention this time to the book's main theme, religion versus humanity. Can one exist without the other? Does one destroy the other? How far can one stray when bound by the "invisible thread"? Waugh's very personal and moving tale of upper-class Catholics in a Protestant country is a brilliant affirmation of faith, and at the same time, a bitter acknowledgement of the price that faith can exact.
I cannot say enough about this recording, which brings all the best of Waugh to the fore even more so than the written word.
Waugh admitted that he wrote the book as "a panegyric preached over an empty coffin", and it certainly reads as such. Through the eyes of the narrator, Charles Ryder, the reader is taken on a nostalgia ride through Ryder's days as a student and his later connections with the aristocratic Flyte family. The main tone is regret - at lost youth, lost love, and a lost class. The future is looked forward to with dread - Ryder regards the soldiers he commands in World War Two with something approaching contempt:
"The history they taught [Hooper, an officer under Ryder's command] had had few battles in it but, instead, a profusion of detail about humane legislation and recent industrial change."
Ryder (and Waugh) knows that the national effort demanded by World War Two will mean that the old order will have to change after the war ends to accommodate the aspirations of the people as a whole.
The melancholy tone of the novel will surprise readers who are familiar with Waugh's more satirical works. It reflects an enduring theme in English culture which looks back to a idyllic rural past (a very powerful, yet totally mythical past) and reflects a deep unease with the Industrial Revolution and social change. The irony of it all is that Waugh's lamentations over the demise of the aristocracy greatly underestimated the (continued) adaptability of that class, and the sustaining power of that rural myth throughout English society as a whole. The funeral rites were premature.
I first read "Brideshead Revisted" some years ago and decided to reread it, having read a lot of Waugh's other works.Read more ›
Comparing it with “A Handful Of Dust”, which was written 11 years earlier, you can certainly see Waugh’s development as a writer. The plot is not necessarily as jarring it was in “A Handful of Dust”, but Brideshead Revisited certainly a better showcase of Waugh’s mastery of vivid prose writing.
The tone is very nostalgic. The prose is packed with rich settings, smells, and tastes. I imagine I never have and never will read a better “eating scene” than Charles Ryder and Rex Mottram eating at the restaurant in London.
However, it isn’t just a fluffy book of word-play. There are parts of this book that can hit like a ton of bricks. Through the characters, deep things are weighed. For instance, Julia’s realization is quite stark: “the worse I am, the more I need God”.
I will not provide any sort of further analysis of Brideshead. You can find that elsewhere. I will say, though, that this is a book that I think will stand up to a second reading, and I plan to re-read it at some point.
Most recent customer reviews
This finely written novel evokes the end of an era and is stylistically impeccable. Nonetheless I find it hard to understand what exactly people find so essential about this book. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Rodge
This a wonderful classic. As a Catholic, I could see the divides more clearly. As a period piece; sensational.
I had read this book many times and seen the videos. Read more
Wonderful use of the English language. Poetic. Interesting narrative. Beautifully written prose. Our reading group really enjoyed reading this book.Published 20 months ago by Pamela Addinall
My husband wanted this book because it touches on so many aspects of what losing faith can do to a person. Read morePublished on Dec 11 2013 by Krystina Simpson
If Charles Ryder is a rather wealthy version of Everyman, he is at least a good representative of modern man. Read morePublished on June 17 2013 by lexie2
A classic on memory and remembering. It pays to be read and reread. The descriptions of the aristocratic house are especially enthralling.Published on Jan. 21 2012 by Hektor Konomi
Evelyn Waugh's "Brideshead, revisited" is a masterpiece of twentieth century literature. Spanning a period of twenty years, Waugh paints a most extraordinary picture of idyllic... Read morePublished on March 3 2004 by Jon Hunt
I could go on and on about how fantastic this novel is but that has been done already. This novel probably won't appeal to everyone, but certainly worth checking out. Read morePublished on Feb. 29 2004 by Allan