The thing about being under the weather when you’re never under the weather is that it affords one a certain amount of time in bed to read. Of course said time was made possible by the three older kidlets who entertained the Wee Lass in royal fashion and kept a steady supply of tea coming my way. This is clearly an instance of my parenting paying off, affirmation we haven’t banged up this gig too badly. So indulge me, pretty please, with yet a second post this week about my reading (in case you missed it, the first post can be seen here).
“Perhaps,” I thought, while her words still hung in the air between us like a wisp of tobacco smoke — a thought to fade and vanish like smoke without a trace — “perhaps all our loves are merely hints and symbols; vagabond-language scrawled on gateposts and paving-stones along the weary road that others have tramped before us; perhaps you and I are types and this sadness which sometimes falls between us springs from disappointment in our search, each straining through and beyond the other, snatching a glimpse now and then of the shadow which turns the corner always a pace or two ahead of us.”
— Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited
Rereading Brideshead Revisited, the story of Charles Ryder’s entanglement with the Flyte family again as an adult has been an entirely new reading experience. Reading Waugh as a youth and again as an adult, especially this, this story of youth and privilege and sensuous pleasures has me ready to declare Waugh as the lyric novelist par excellence. The subtitle, The Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder, casts a light on the themes of the novel — love as interpreted by the Catholic church vs secular love, and the concept of sin — these themes underlie the novel.
Brideshead Revisited is a haunting, melancholy swan song to all that is elegant and pure in this world. An ode to the idealism of youth, it is pure poetry, a reminder that beauty and love exist in this dreary and heartless world.
Do you have a book you revisited as an adult for a completely new reading experience?