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Waugh Reaches Out To The Rich
am 2. September 1997
Evelyn Waugh's didactic Catholicism intrudes on this otherwise sparkling depiction of the decline of the British aristocracy.
Known more for his bitterly funny satires of British 20th-century life, Waugh here weaves only snippets of humor into a broader emotional palette, building a tale that moves from the sophisticated sarcasm of the university to the mourning of a trouble clan ultimately cursed by fortune.
Brideshead Revisited reminds us that as a prose stylist, Waugh had few equals. His multi-faceted and strikingly human depictions of the Brideshead inhabitants, his facility with language, his stately compression; few writers can claim to have so often struck upon le mot juste. Yet his central theme of spiritual awakening never stabilizes into a coherent whole; In the end, narrator Ryder's mood is ambivalent (as is the reader's), while the broken Marchmain clan swoons into a somewhat banal parade of rediscovered, yet damaged, Catholicism.
In his letters, critic Edmund Wilson pointed to Brideshea