I've been on a complete Evelyn Waugh tip recently. I have Frances to thank for turning me on to the world of Waugh. Since the turn of the year I've read A Handful of Dust, Brideshead Revisited, Decline and Fall, and most recently, Vile Bodies. The latter is one of the most difficult books I've read in a long time, with a new character introduced on virtually every page of the book and almost impossible for me to keep up with. A Handful of Dust is an incredible book that left me in the grip of depression and anger for days, if not weeks, afterwards. I do think a lot of people miss the intended humour in Waugh's writing, but I think it's clear that a lot of his later works were written in depressive states. He has such an esoteric mind, which is best seen in the endings of the majority of his novels.

I've found myself becoming completely obsessive about Waugh's magnum opus, Brideshead Revisited, and have read the book, watched the television series, and listened to Geoffrey Burgon's soundtrack ad-infinitum in the past year, almost to the point of being able to quote every line (certainly of the television series). Brideshead Revisited is the greatest British novel I've ever read. The depth of the book is kind of shocking to me: Catholicism, homosexuality, redemption, alcoholism, Sebastian's insatiable need to be left alone, escapism, the British class system, morality, death and salvation, etc., and all set between two World Wars. The mind boggles...

I'm slightly surprised that I could actually give two hoots about public-school twits and the British upper-middle classes in the 1920s, but the characters are just so compelling that it's difficult not to feel some sort of empathy with, or interest in, them. Perhaps it's the fact that I've been working at a manor house these past six months that makes me want to indulge in these characters somewhat. I think I'm also wanting to discover more about my own Englishness now that I'm on the verge of moving to America. Whatever it is, the scope of this novel leaves me reeling every time I think about it. As in life, very little gets resolved in this story which makes me want to return to it again and again.

Brideshead Revisited Television Series