The aim of this blog is to serve as a meeting point to those who study or have studied English philology and, more broadly, to all those who love literature and language.

22 Jul 2008

Evelyn Waugh´s fiction (2)


I would like to write about the concept of Englishness in this novel represented by the aristocracy, the country house, the nostalgia of an order and civilisation against a fast changing modern world.

It represents a way of life and a code of values Waugh himself seems to miss and reject at the same time. I think we can see all this in his stereotyped characters.

Charles as a medium-class hero infatuated by the greatness of Brideshead, its architecture, its beauty. He describes the house as a sort of museum where time can be retained. He is an artist although he might not be aware of it yet.

Sebastian, a man trapped in his status, a poor soul who probably just wants to have a real friend, it could be argued what kind of relationship he expects from Charles. He does not care about the world which moves around him finding solace in alcohol.

Anthony, the dissenter, the outcast who blames Charles for not getting rid of the English charm which he thinks prevents him from being a real artist. He can be Waugh´s outsider eye, critic of a stiff conservative society .

Sebastian´s relationship with his nanny, a motherly figure in the house, who presides the table at meal times in absence of their parents, a cliché of the English aristocracy, but whose social condition is well remarked when Sebastian sets Charles to draw the fountain in the terrace and give it to her. We are told she is not able to appreciate the beauty in it:

“Give to nanny,“ said Sebastian.
I did so, and she put it among the collection on the top of her chest of drawers, remarking that it had quite a look of the thing, which she had often heard admired but could never see the beauty of, herself.

I got the picture from the new film of the novel coming out this year. If you are interested in watching the trailer...

1 comment:

  1. I wonder what triggers the attraction that English aristocratic stories and environment exert over so many people regardless their social status or nationality.