Wednesday, 12 November 2014

"Brideshead Revisited", and the Malign Influence of Religion on Love

Just finished watching (again) the DVDs of the TV version of this novel, first broadcast in 1981. I'm very pleased with the set - my mother collected tokens from the Daily Mail, got them for free, and sent them all to me. HL loves it.

We've been watching the lot over the last few nights. HL is taken with sets, and costumes, and locations, and scenery, and snobbery. I am too, but I am quieter about that, and pretend it is more about the heaving sub-text of religion pitted against the human soul.

In an inept nutshell, the story is of an English aristocrat, with much land and a magnificent Palladian palace, who falls in love with a Roman Catholic woman, converts, and marries her, and has four children, whom she controls from afar with the pitiless rod of her own faith. Of the four, the most dashing is the second son, Lord Sebastian Flyte. His university friend, Charles Ryder (born into a far more prosaic family), falls in love with the boy with a sense of wonder, and when that all falls apart, falls in love with his sister instead.

They are all unhappy.

It fascinates me that Evelyn Waugh, himself a Catholic convert and a divorcé, should have written something so utterly convincingly against the religion he had chosen.

Richard Haggis
Barton-upon-Bayswater, Oxford
November 2014


  1. I've got to get the book, mother has it, and it's down in Florida...sounds deliciously sad and sweet...

  2. Fascinating indeed Richard. It makes one feel one should avoid Catholicism like the plague. But then, I've always thought that.
    I had a conversation some years ago with an Anglican cleric who shall remain nameless (but you know him - hardly narrows the field). I was dismayed at the defection to popery of a friend, and the clergyman said: "I do think to be born a Catholic is a misfortune. But to willingly convert is evidence of a need for serious therapy".