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Brideshead Revisited
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Author:  p.falk [ Tue Mar 07, 2017 8:59 am ]
Post subject:  Brideshead Revisited

I had read Brideshead Revisited a few years ago. A couple of months ago I had finished Waugh's "Handful of Dust".

"Handful of Dust" was in large part about the dying older ways and culture of England.

It got me thinking about "Brideshead Revisited". Is the castle Brideshead supposed to be a metaphor for the England that was passing out of existence? The culture, traditions, and ways of life prior to WWI?

Author:  Obi-Wan Kenobi [ Tue Mar 07, 2017 10:12 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Brideshead Revisited

Maybe in part, but given that Catholicism was not part of that England, and given that Brideshead is intensely Catholic, I wouldn't go too far with that.

Author:  p.falk [ Thu Mar 16, 2017 9:48 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Brideshead Revisited

I see what you're saying.

The character of Sebastian is pretty prominent and his struggles seem to me to be about not wanting to let go of his sinful behavior.
Early on he says "Oh dear, it's very difficult being a Catholic". Which seems to jolt Charles Ryder alittle bit because he didn't seem to think that stuff would matter to Sebastian.
Sebastian even paraphrases St. Augustine with "Oh God, make me good, but not yet".

I think that internal struggle of Sebastian's between following his family's Catholic faith or hold on to 'having fun' is what lead to his alcoholism.

Author:  Obi-Wan Kenobi [ Thu Mar 16, 2017 11:56 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Brideshead Revisited

I'm not sure that's fair to Sebastian. The "having fun" itself I read as a symptom, not as the problem. He's clearly (to me) not happy and attempting to divert himself in successively more dire ways.

Author:  p.falk [ Thu Mar 16, 2017 12:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Brideshead Revisited

Good point. And now that you've mentioned it, a few times in the book his mother expressed concern that Sebastian was not happy, similarly she said how her husband was also not happy. And both ran away.

Also, Charles said that when he (Charles) drank it was because of an excess of happiness... but that Sebastian was drinking to escape.

So you're very right. But what is he trying to escape from? The Catholicism of his family? Or the fact that he's losing his youth? The bear Aloyisious must be something like holding on to ones youth.

Author:  Obi-Wan Kenobi [ Thu Mar 16, 2017 12:29 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Brideshead Revisited

I think he's gay, though I think I recall gherkin disagreeing on that point.

Author:  p.falk [ Thu Mar 16, 2017 12:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Brideshead Revisited

Struggling with his homosexuality and his leanings towards Catholicism? That would make sense of Sebastian's comment to Charles earlier in the book. When Charles said to Sebastian that Sebastian's being Catholic doesn't make him better than Charles. And Sebastian says that he would be much wicked or if it were not for his Catholicism... then followed the paraphrasing of St Augustine's quote.

Author:  gherkin [ Thu Mar 16, 2017 1:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Brideshead Revisited

Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
I think he's gay, though I think I recall gherkin disagreeing on that point.

I think my main contention on the subject is that his homosexuality is generally taken for granted by commentators, and that it shouldn't be taken for granted. Maybe that's the way Waugh saw him. (Waugh himself evidently had some homosexual relationships in college. So it's not like the thought would be altogether foreign to him.) But it's definitely not obvious that he's in any kind of sexual relationship with Charles. Sebastian's earlier relationship with Anthony is, likewise, not clear. I think you might say even more strongly that the later relationship with Kurt is clearly presented as non-sexual. In short, I don't think there's really any very good reason to take Sebastian as same-sex attracted.

Author:  gherkin [ Thu Mar 16, 2017 1:36 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Brideshead Revisited

p.falk wrote:
Good point. And now that you've mentioned it, a few times in the book his mother expressed concern that Sebastian was not happy, similarly she said how her husband was also not happy. And both ran away.

Also, Charles said that when he (Charles) drank it was because of an excess of happiness... but that Sebastian was drinking to escape.

So you're very right. But what is he trying to escape from? The Catholicism of his family? Or the fact that he's losing his youth? The bear Aloyisious must be something like holding on to ones youth.

I don't think there's got to be anything specific that he's "running away" from. Think of it more as analogous to depression, which doesn't have a specific object, than to fear, which does.

Author:  p.falk [ Thu Mar 16, 2017 2:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Brideshead Revisited

gherkin wrote:
p.falk wrote:
Good point. And now that you've mentioned it, a few times in the book his mother expressed concern that Sebastian was not happy, similarly she said how her husband was also not happy. And both ran away.

Also, Charles said that when he (Charles) drank it was because of an excess of happiness... but that Sebastian was drinking to escape.

So you're very right. But what is he trying to escape from? The Catholicism of his family? Or the fact that he's losing his youth? The bear Aloyisious must be something like holding on to ones youth.

I don't think there's got to be anything specific that he's "running away" from. Think of it more as analogous to depression, which doesn't have a specific object, than to fear, which does.


Are you referring to his literal running away?
Or his drinking to escape?

There's some tension going on in him. His leanings towards Catholicism must play some role in that.

Author:  gherkin [ Thu Mar 16, 2017 2:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Brideshead Revisited

p.falk wrote:
gherkin wrote:
p.falk wrote:
Good point. And now that you've mentioned it, a few times in the book his mother expressed concern that Sebastian was not happy, similarly she said how her husband was also not happy. And both ran away.

Also, Charles said that when he (Charles) drank it was because of an excess of happiness... but that Sebastian was drinking to escape.

So you're very right. But what is he trying to escape from? The Catholicism of his family? Or the fact that he's losing his youth? The bear Aloyisious must be something like holding on to ones youth.

I don't think there's got to be anything specific that he's "running away" from. Think of it more as analogous to depression, which doesn't have a specific object, than to fear, which does.


Are you referring to his literal running away?
Or his drinking to escape?

Yes. :fyi:

Quote:
There's some tension going on in him. His leanings towards Catholicism must play some role in that.

I'm not sure he has leanings towards Catholicism. On the contrary, he doesn't ever seem to waver in his acceptance of the Faith. No doubt being a bad Catholic prompts a certain amount of guilt.

Author:  Obi-Wan Kenobi [ Thu Mar 16, 2017 2:23 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Brideshead Revisited

He sees Catholicism as true; he is unable to live the life he knows goes with it; his mother's near-hyper Catholicism exacerbates the conflict.

Author:  p.falk [ Thu Mar 16, 2017 2:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Brideshead Revisited

Ahh.. okay. What both of you are saying makes sense. "Leaning towards Catholicism" was an incorrect way to put that on my part.

Something of Sebastian struck me like an Oscar Wilde kind of a guy. Maybe that's I was thinking he was away from the faith and just had these little leanings towards it.
Reading Sebastian I just think of this Wilde quote:

"I forgot that every little action of the common day makes or unmakes character, and that therefore what one has done in the secret chamber one has some day to cry aloud on the housetop. I ceased to be lord over myself. I was no longer the captain of my soul, and did not know it. I allowed pleasure to dominate me. I ended in horrible disgrace. There is only one thing for me now, absolute humility."

The quote ends in a way that even dovetails with what happened to Sebastian.

Author:  Peregrinator [ Fri Mar 17, 2017 7:25 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Brideshead Revisited

gherkin wrote:
Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
I think he's gay, though I think I recall gherkin disagreeing on that point.

I think my main contention on the subject is that his homosexuality is generally taken for granted by commentators, and that it shouldn't be taken for granted. Maybe that's the way Waugh saw him. (Waugh himself evidently had some homosexual relationships in college. So it's not like the thought would be altogether foreign to him.) But it's definitely not obvious that he's in any kind of sexual relationship with Charles. Sebastian's earlier relationship with Anthony is, likewise, not clear. I think you might say even more strongly that the later relationship with Kurt is clearly presented as non-sexual. In short, I don't think there's really any very good reason to take Sebastian as same-sex attracted.

Also, I'm not sure "gay" makes sense in the context of when the novel is set. Sebastian could be "same-sex attracted" (I'm sure that's why you chose that phrase instead of another) without identifying, even privately, as "gay".

Author:  gherkin [ Fri Mar 17, 2017 8:21 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Brideshead Revisited

Peregrinator wrote:
gherkin wrote:
Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
I think he's gay, though I think I recall gherkin disagreeing on that point.

I think my main contention on the subject is that his homosexuality is generally taken for granted by commentators, and that it shouldn't be taken for granted. Maybe that's the way Waugh saw him. (Waugh himself evidently had some homosexual relationships in college. So it's not like the thought would be altogether foreign to him.) But it's definitely not obvious that he's in any kind of sexual relationship with Charles. Sebastian's earlier relationship with Anthony is, likewise, not clear. I think you might say even more strongly that the later relationship with Kurt is clearly presented as non-sexual. In short, I don't think there's really any very good reason to take Sebastian as same-sex attracted.

Also, I'm not sure "gay" makes sense in the context of when the novel is set. Sebastian could be "same-sex attracted" (I'm sure that's why you chose that phrase instead of another) without identifying, even privately, as "gay".

:salut:

Author:  p.falk [ Tue Mar 21, 2017 10:42 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Brideshead Revisited

Is Carolina Charles's child?


I lose so much relatability with Charles when I see his indifferent attitude towards his children.
I've about 80 pages left.

Author:  Obi-Wan Kenobi [ Tue Mar 21, 2017 11:43 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Brideshead Revisited

IIRC, isn't it open to question whether they're his?

Author:  p.falk [ Tue Mar 21, 2017 2:44 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Brideshead Revisited

Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
IIRC, isn't it open to question whether they're his?


Charles tells Julia that Celia had a sexual encounter with another man.
They've been married for 6 years. I don't recall hearing how old Johnjohn is.

For some reason I thought the time with Charles being in Mexico didn't square with Caroline's age.
Charles was there for two years, alone.... I don't recall Caroline's age being explicitly stated, but I thought it was less than 2 years.

Author:  gherkin [ Wed Mar 22, 2017 8:19 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Brideshead Revisited

It is my firm belief that Caroline is not Charles's daughter. I don't think this is made clear through timelines (I think Celia was pregnant when Charles left, and he knew she was pregnant when he left, and her being pregnant is a main cause of his leaving, precisely because he knew the child was not his.) I do believe he thinks himself to be John's father biologically, though he also thinks he's given up the right to be a father to his son. This, he thinks to himself either at the very opening of the book, or the very closing of it, when he's at the encampment at Brideshead. I need to read the book again, obviously, because this is all a bit vague in my mind now. Must have been over a year.

Author:  p.falk [ Wed Mar 22, 2017 12:51 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Brideshead Revisited

Celia must have done some other bad things to him because during one of his reflections recalling the affair she had with another man Charles stated how it was freeing to be a knowing cuckhold because now Celia couldn't hurt him 'any more'.

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