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Old February 12th, 2015 #21
RonPrice
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Default More On: Brideshead Revisited

REVISITING BRIDESHEAD
Revisiting Brideshead was televised last night.1 I had seen this 11 part series on television back in the 1980s or early 1990s after it first came out in 1981. I had not read the novel, Brideshead Revisited, The Sacred & Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder by English writer Evelyn Waugh which was first published in 1945. In 2015 I had the pleasure of seeing the 2008 film version.2 I wrote about the TV series and the film after I had retired from my 50 year life-experience as a student and in paid employment, 1949-1999, and after I had seen the series a second time in Australia.
The Flyte family who lived at Brideshead symbolises the English nobility, and Waugh's marvelously melancholy elegy brings that nobility to life. One reads in the book that Brideshead has "the atmosphere of a better age." Viewers, millions, enjoy the opulent and aristocratic edge, the glitter and gloss, the grandeur and the glamour of this wealthy family estate, and of a time in our history now quickly dying-out, if not long gone. In this one house, as one reviewer put it, is a fading, a dying, empire; or is it just sublime real estate. For many, in the millennial and generation Z, I can just about hear them clicking on the remote and uttering a now familiar word, a word especially familiar to people like me who retired after more than 30 years in classrooms: borrrring!
There's room for more than one Brideshead in this far less glamorous day and age, though, room at least for the baby-boomers and for the silent generation among the viewing public, with the glitter and gloss of society now often tarnished beyond repair in our complex 21st century.-Ron Price with thanks to 1ABC2, 11:55-12:45, 19 & 20/9/’11, and 2ABCTV, 8/2/'15, 10:05-11:30 pm.
1981 was a bad year in the UK
with 2 & ˝ million out of work
and a list of bad news to fill all
those English heads to the top.1

There was nothing like this bit
of escapism from the real world
into a nostalgic, a romanticized
past, homoerotic suggestiveness,
Evelyn Waugh’s WW2 vision.2

I’ll let all you readers find out
what it all meant to Waugh, to
his critics & to modern viewers
whose views are available for us
to see on that new source of info:
the internet, the world-wide-web.3
1 See Wikipedia for all the bad news in 1981.
2 Waugh wrote in the preface to the 1959 edition of the book that he was appalled by his book, and that he found rereading it distasteful. I was only 15 at the time, and had read none of Waugh. I lived in Ontario’s Golden Horseshoe, had just joined the Baha’i Faith, and was in love with sport and at least 3 girls. The plot of the book was set in 1943-1944, in the months when I was in utero.
3 I was particularly interested in Waugh’s defence of Catholicism, his critique of secular humanism, and his emphasis on the many forms of conversion that take place in peoples’ lives.
Ron Price
20/9/'11 to 12/2/'15.
 
Old February 15th, 2015 #22
Sean Gruber
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Overrated: Melville's Moby Dick. It's a surprisingly easy read if you get the swing of stuff written in the 1800s. But Ishmael's personality grates: he seems like an aggressively cutesy jew-type, with a strain of homosexuality (for example, he glamorizes popping into bed with Queequeg in excess of the reader's interest in it). After about 200 pages, you want to throw the book across the room, because you can't stand this guy personally, or Melville.

Joseph Conrad. Mencken liked and promoted him, but Mencken's taste was dark. (Opposites attract or maybe he saw Conrad as politically necessary, a cure for the superficial tripe prevalent in the slush piles of those times.) Everyone praises Conrad's ability to write in English (his native language was Polish) but he only sort of writes in English. Parsing his sentences does them no credit. He gets his effects by repeating a key adjective to excess. In The Heart of Darkness, it's "dark," "darkness," "darkening" etc.

Tolstoy. So far I've read only his short stories, for example, "The Kreutzer Sonata." But gawd -- boring stuff about people you would never want to know, based on a wrong-headed, religious philosophy. If Mary Baker Eddy had been an outdoorsy type and had written well-observed fiction, this is the kind of fiction she would have chosen to write. But I'll keep trying and will read Anna Karenina someday, like Oprah's fans supposedly did a few years ago. (I read the first three pages of War and Peace but stopped short, feeling the type of boredom that makes a person wish he were dead.)

Dostoyevsky is good if you get hold of an old translation. The new ones by Pevear and Volokhonsky are unreadable, so of course they're whooped up by all professors and "The New York Review of Books." The Possessed is full of good things, including much over-the-top bitter humor. (The meeting where the liberal fraud speaks is great, especially the aftermath of it, immediately after he flees the stage.) Brothers Karamazov climaxes in a good long trial scene.

Sinclair Lewis isn't overrated. Well, he wrote one good novel, anyway: Elmer Gantry. That is a funny book. The movie is different from the book but ok in its own right. If you want to tear your pancreas laughing, read the book. (Babbitt is boring by comparison; It Can't Happen Here is badly written.)

Frankly, many of the so-called Great Books aren't so great. But you can't go wrong with Huckleberry Finn (really, anything by Twain has its points), The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Elmer Gantry, Treasure Island, and some others.

Somebody mentioned Kerouac. In the second volume of Gore Vidal's memoirs, he described fucking Kerouac in the asshole in a filthy motel room, after which Kerouac passed out drunk. That sums up post-1940 "serious" fiction and its idols pretty well. Here's me on To Kill a Mockingbird and its "sequel" (NB: "Mary Ann" there should be "Mary Sue"; apologies).
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Last edited by Sean Gruber; February 15th, 2015 at 02:15 PM.
 
Old February 16th, 2015 #23
Ray Allan
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Tom Clancy. His techno-thrillers are nothing but praise and worship for the Great Global Amerikwan Empire that can do no evil. Endless techno-babble of how a nuclear submarine functions, but superficial, predictable plots and boring characters. Just escapist Rambo-type fantasy.

Ditto for Dan Brown.

Last edited by Ray Allan; February 17th, 2015 at 12:35 AM.
 
Old February 16th, 2015 #24
Sean Gruber
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Did you mean Dan Brown, Ray?

Alice Walker. I picked up The Color Purple years ago and read four pages from the middle of the book. (Such was Victor Hugo's method of tasting an unfamiliar book: if he found something interesting on a random page, he read the rest of the book. If not, he tossed the book.) Nothing gelled from sentence to sentence; it was as if Walker had the brain of a cat.

Generally, non-White authors are unprofitable to read.
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Old February 17th, 2015 #25
Ray Allan
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Quote:
Did you mean Dan Brown, Ray?
Yes, I did--thanks, Sean. That happens to me posting at 2AM.
 
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evelyn waugh, famous anti semite

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