Brideshead Revisited

I just watched the BBC Brideshead Revisited, from 1981, for the billionth time.

Obviously, then, in the past I loved it.

This time, however, I had a different impression of Charles Ryder, who until now I'd more or less liked.

Particularly after the scene where he's just returned from painting abroad for two years, and he hasn't seen his children (I think his youngest daughter he hasn't seen at all, since she was born after he left).  His wife says that his children are eagerly anticipating him--his son has even made a banner to welcome him home.  He tells her that he simply cannot find the time to go home, by which he means that he prefers to spend time with Julia.

He really lost me at this point--begetting children and then philandering about, no doubt leaving indelible scars on them due to neglect. He struck me as inhuman to have so much apathy towards his own flesh and blood.

And he never has a change of heart towards his family or children--divorcing his wife and becoming engaged to Julia and exclusively smitten with the Flyte family.  Even though he's never formally related to this family, they become the focal point of his existence.  He even pushes his weight around regarding Lord Marchmain and his death bed conversion.

He just seemed so out of place hanging out at Brideshead.  What the does this families affairs have to do with him?  He seemed like some bizairre vouyer, hanging out with the family due to an engagement to Julia that's eventually broken off.  Why don't you go back to your children, to your actual obligations, and leave this family to their own business.

Hard to imagine that this book's central message is about salvation.  According to Evelyn Waugh, Ryder undergoes a conversion at the end.  I just have some doubts as to the validity of this conversion.  Can someone who so callously dismisses his obligations really be all right with God?

Kind of struck by the wealth of the entire Flyte family, too........their lives seem so strange, what do they really do, or have to do other than philander about as well?  Bridey, who's one of the show's staunch Catholics, never seems to have any occupation other than collecting matchboxes.  

Where does practicing the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy tie in to Waugh's notions about Catholicism?  They hardly seem relevant at all.

I guess all I can say is that for me, this time around, Brideshead Revisited did not entirely hold up.

No comments

Post a Comment