Kate's Queen City Notes

Blundering through Cincinnati, laughing all the way

100 Books by 40: Brideshead Revisited


Welcome to my experiment post. I am cranking out a post in twenty minutes. I will read though this next week and evaluate the results of the experiment. I expect lots of grammatical errors and convoluted points. Here we go.

And yet another book about morality and religion, that’s what Brideshead Revisited is. Granted there is some beautiful writing in there. But like Anna Karinina, the author is pontificating about God. The main character describes his relationship to a Catholic family across a couple of decades. There’s lots of suffering. There’s lots of guilt. There’s lots of agonizing about one’s own guilt.

Given that the family is Catholic, I shouldn’t be surprised that guilt takes the staring emotional role. Everyone in the book is miserable. When they are indulging themselves, they are miserable because they feel guilty. When they are making morally sound choices, they are miserable. That makes reading this book miserable.

This book was written in the 40’s. There is one openly gay character, and a homosexual attraction. This is my theory. The author is Catholic and gay. When I realized that I was gay, I felt hopeless. Both of my paths forward looked bleak. Either I say in the closet and sacrifice having the meaningful connection that we all crave, or I come out and disappoint almost everyone I knew. I couldn’t see a bright future in either of those choices. After considering how much I would need to hide my genuine self, I knew I couldn’t stay in the closet. I would rather face judgment than lose my authenticity. Feeling like you have no good option is oppressive. That’s what I was sensing in this book.

A quick internet search confirmed my suspicions. And after wallowing in his self-loathing for the hours it took to complete the book, I was reminded of that place I was in. What a prison. I found the book trough to get through because of my own experiences that I found echoing in those pages. Now then, I am stepping back out of my closet. That place was miserable.

2 thoughts on “100 Books by 40: Brideshead Revisited

  1. That’s interesting. I haven’t read Brideshead Revisited (maybe I saw the 2008 movie version?) but I always associated Evelyn Waugh with high class party snark. Apparently that was his earlier work. My touchpoint was Bright Young things, which was the 2003 movie version of 1930 novel Vile Bodies. I feel like I read he was also supposedly quite the journalist.

    • Maybe I would like his earlier stuff? For sure, there was loads of snark in there. Hence I will be watching the TV mini-series.

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