Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
published 1945 book 3 chapter 4
observations: Julia again – and this time viewed with the eye of love, showing Waugh could do a nice description of a loving view of a woman.
As well as tackling huge issues of sin, morals and religion, Brideshead Revisited is also very funny, and full of excellent characters. One weird thing is that narrator Charles Ryder has two children called Caroline and JohnJohn – just as John F Kennedy and his wife Jackie will have a few years later in real life. (The children are dismissed pretty brutally in the book.)
Nancy Mitford, author of the previous Chinese Robe episode, was a close friend of Evelyn Waugh’s, and although she loved the book she took exception to the theme of renunciation by lovers on religious grounds. She said in a letter to him: ‘the God I believe in… likes people to be happy & people who love each other to live together – so long as nobody else’s life is upset (&then he’s not sure).’ Intriguingly, Waugh’s response mentions her defending the Duke of Windsor (not mentioned in the published letter) – he having renounced a crown - then goes on to say ‘it is certainly true that people often feel qualms of conscience about illicit love only when they are beginning to get bored…’ Their exchanges on the book are illuminating – but then their correspondence is one of the finest collections of letters ever. They continue to spar about religion over many years….
Links up with: Yesterday’s entry, with a Mitford Chinese robe. Brideshead and Julia featured before. Western women in Chinese robes also feature in the stories of Stella Gibbons (of Cold Comfort Farm fame) from the 1930s – in one case a rather racy woman (with a past) is going to lend the robe to the amateur dramatic group.
The photo is from the George Eastman House Photography Collection.