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Rezension bezieht sich auf: Brideshead Revisited (Taschenbuch)
Evelyn Waugh's BRIDESHEAD REVISITED is a troubling and flawed work of genius. Written during World War II and framed by the conversion of the Brideshead estate into an army camp during the war, the novel depicts the youth and early adulthood of one Charles Ryder. The 40-year-old army captain that the war makes of Ryder recalls the days of his optimistic youth as a close friend of teddy-bear toting Sebastian Flyte, younger son of the Brideshead household and classmate of his at Oxford. Sebastian awakens much in Charles, and it is arguable whether he doesn't awaken more than does his sister Julia, who later becomes Ryder's fiancee.
For the 220 or so pages that constitute Part One this book comes off as a splendid (though not aggressively hostile) satire of upper class British society in the 1920s. Especially of the particular damage that the "long-suffering" Catholic mother can do to her loved ones (I kept thinking, "O, the martyrdom!" every time Lady Marchmain used one of her patented guilt trips to twist the psychological and spiritual arms of her children--Sebastian most often.) BRIDESHEAD REVISITED is also a powerful "lost illusions" type of novel, but the particular illusions lost don't seem any more attractive than the reality that replaces them. "Henceforth I live in a world of three dimensions--with the aid of my five senses," says Charles, but that seems limiting, doesn't it? It does to Waugh but his answer isn't necessarily any more appealing. Part One is hilarious and promises much. Part Two, sorry to say, does not deliver on that promise. The satire stops and the soap opera begins. Sebastian disappears and Ryder becomes a much less sympathetic character--why he would fall in love with Julia in the first place is hard to fathom.
A great problem with this novel is that it seems to place the Catholic religion in an unflattering light to the extent that the reader would think that Waugh himself was anti-Catholic. Think again. He was a convert well before he wrote this book and despite the fact that he DOES present Catholicism as being the last thing anyone would want to fall into, people fall. The fact that they fall into rather than embrace Catholicism sucks away whatever joy might have been left in the novel--I was reminded of the line from Kevin Smith's movie DOGMA, paraphrased here: "Catholics don't celebrate their faith, they mourn it."
So, in celebration I must say that to call Waugh a fine writer is to sell him far too short. He is a masterful stylist and a brilliant wit who can lift you up and get under your skin. Let him.