Charles Ryder, a lonely student at Oxford, is captivated by the outrageous and decadent Sebastian Flyte. Invited to Brideshead, Sebastian's magnificent family home, Charles welcomes the attentions of its eccentric, aristocratic inhabitants, gradually becoming infatuated with them and the life of privilege they inhabit – in particular, with Sebastian's remote sister, Julia. But he gradually comes to recognize his spiritual and social distance from them, eventually discovering a world where duty and desire, faith and happiness are in conflict.
Evelyn Waugh was born in Hampstead in 1903, second son of Arthur Waugh, publisher and literary critic, and brother of Alec Waugh, the popular novelist. He was educated at Lancing and Hertford College, Oxford, where he read Modern History. In 1928 he published his first work, a life of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and his first novel, Decline and Fall, which was soon followed by Vile Bodies (1930), Black Mischief (1932), A Handful of Dust (1934) and Scoop (1938). During these years he travelled extensively in most parts of Europe, the Near East, Africa and tropical America, and published a number of travel books, including Labels (1930), Remote People (1931), Ninety-Two Days (1934) and Waugh in Abyssinia (1936).
In 1939 he was commissioned in the Royal Marines and later transferred to the Royal Horse Guards, serving in the Middle East and in Yugoslavia. In 1942 he published Put Out More Flags and then in 1945 Brideshead Revisited. When the Going was Good and The Loved One preceded Men at Arms, which came out in 1952, the first volume of 'The Sword of Honour' trilogy, and won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. The other volumes, Officers and Gentlemen and Unconditional Surrender, followed in 1955 and 1961. In 1964 he published his last book, A Little Learning, the first volume of an autobiography. Evelyn Waugh was received into the Roman Catholic Church in 1930 and his biography of the Elizabethan Jesuit martyr, Edmund Campion, was awarded the Hawthornden Prize in 1936. In 1959 he published the official Life of Ronald Knox. For many years he lived with his wife and six children in the West Country. He died in 1966.
Waugh said of his work: 'I regard writing not as investigation of character but as an exercise in the use of language, and with this I am obsessed. I have no technical psychological interest. It is drama, speech and events that interest me.' Mark Amory called Evelyn Waugh 'one of the five best novelists in the English language this century', while Harold Acton described him as having 'the sharp eye of a Hogarth alternating with that of the Ancient Mariner'.
The Bellwether Revivals, part The Secret History and part Brideshead Revisited, is a literary mystery about beauty, music and faith set in academia and is garnering good reviews overseas. If literary thrillers are your thing, you will want to know about Waiting for Sunrise by William Boyd as well as new comer Howard Cunnell's The Sea on Fire which which is a brilliantly suspenseful story about a man torn between responsibilities to his family and the freedom of the open water. The Virgin Cure is set in the dark underbelly of New York in the 1870s and centres around a slum child sold into servitude.
"Waugh's most deeply felt novel . . . "Brideshead Revisited "tells an absorbing story in imaginative terms . . . Mr. Waugh is very definitely an artist, with something like a genius for precision and clarity not surpassed by any novelist writing in English in his time." -"New York Times"
"A many-faceted book . . . Beautifully [written] by one of the most exhilarating stylists of our time." -"Newsweek"
"First and last an enchanting story . . . "Brideshead Revisited" has a magic that is rare in current literature. It is a world in itself, and the reader lives in it and is loath to leave it when the last page is turned." -"Saturday Review"
"Evelyn Waugh's most successful novel . . . A memorable work of art."
-from the Introduction by Frank Kermode
Series: Popular Penguins Ser.
Number Of Pages: 336
Published: 29th June 2009
Dimensions (cm): 11.1 x 11.5
Weight (kg): 18.2