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File:Sebastian and aloysius - brideshead revisited 7515.jpg


"Its theme -- the operation of divine grace on a group of diverse but closely connected characters -- was perhaps presumptuously large, but I make no apology for it."
Evelyn Waugh, Preface to the 1945 Edition


Brideshead Revisited is a 1945 novel by Evelyn Waugh about the relationship/love-affair between Charles Ryder, a middle class man, and various members of an aristocratic, but decaying, family of English Roman Catholics; most notably the lovable, but dipso, Man Child Sebastian Flyte.

Made into a successful mini-series by ITV in 1981 starring Jeremy Irons as Charles and Anthony Andrews as Sebastian, and a feature film in 2008 with Matthew Goode and Ben Whishaw in the roles.


Provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Attractiveness: The grown-up Cordelia is said to be quite unattractive in the book. In the series, now... Justified in that we only have Charles' word for her unattractiveness, and his obsession with aesthetics may well make him an Unreliable Narrator.
  • The Alcoholic: Sebastian, eventually.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Sebastian, but only because it's never outright stated - his preferences are pretty clear. Charles however, is more ambiguous and his homosexuality seems to be more of a youthful life-phase, than a life-style for him.
  • Big Fancy House
  • Bishonen: Sebastian.
  • Brick Joke: Early in the book, Mulcaster is involved in hazing of Anthony Blanche. He predicts that the men who did it will remember this while they live boring lives. Halfway through the book, Mulcaster brings up the incident.
  • Christianity Is Catholic: Actually averted in the novel, where the distinctions between different kinds of Christianity are important to the plot. Oddly kind of inverted in the 2008 film, where the nominal Catholics behave more like Evangelicals.
  • Cure Your Gays: Very ambiguously implied when Rex mentions that the sanitorium he plans to send Sebastian to treats sex cases as well as alcoholism. Lady Marchmain seems to miss this as she responds by wondering about the kind of company Sebastian would have there.
  • Everybody Smokes: Justified given the time period.
  • Evil Matriarch: One interpretation of Lady Marchmain.
  • First-Person Peripheral Narrator: Played straight and then subverted - Charles initially is little more than an outside observer upon Sebastian and his family, but after the Time Skip becomes the novel's proper protagonist.
  • Flamboyant Gay: Anthony Blanche
  • Genteel Interbellum Setting
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Considering it was first published in 1945 the book gets away with an awful lot. No one batted an eyelid at the flamboyant Anthony Blanche, ambiguously gay main character Sebastian Flyte and the large amount of Ho Yay between him and Charles. (Unless you knew the real people they were thinly veiled fictionalizations of.)
  • Heroic BSOD: Julia has one of these when Lord Brideshead calls her out on her adulterous relationship with Charles.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: The reason Charles and Cordelia keep giving Sebastian booze - he drinks because he's miserable and neither of them can stand to see him unhappy.
  • Man Child: Sebastian is this, at least at the start. Complete with teddy bear.
  • The Mistress
  • Missing Mum: Charles' mother passed away when he was young.
  • Scenery Porn: The movie was filmed on location at Castle Howard in North Yorkshire. There are a lot of nice shots of Oxford and Venice, as well.
  • Second Love: Charles' first love is for Sebastian but when Sebastian becomes more distant due to his alcoholism problem, Charles--after an unhappy marriage--ultimately courts Sebastian's sister Julia (which turns out to be another ill-fated relationship). There are shades of the Doppelganger Replacement Love Interest here because Charles notes the striking similarity between Julia and her brother when he first encounters them. Towards the end of Brideshead Revisited, Charles considers his feelings for Sebastian a sort of (homosexual) forerunner to his devotion to Julia.
  • Triang Relations: In the 2008 movie, Sebastian has a thing for Charles, but the latter and Julia are in love. In the book and mini-series, Charles's relationship with Julia comes ten years after the friendship with Sebastian has ended and there are no signs of a love triangle.
  • Wacky Fratboy Hijinx
  • What Do You Mean Its Not Symbolic?
  • Xanatos Gambit: Arguably played by God, of all people. Almost all of the characters eventually find religion in the end, despite their attempts to run away.
  • Your Cheating Heart
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