Monday, June 12, 2017

The invisible thread …

… Revisiting Brideshead | Chronicles Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Published in 1945, Brideshead Revisited traces the interaction between Charles Ryder, its ostensibly agnostic narrator, and a family of aristocratic Catholics.  In the Preface to the second edition, Waugh wrote that its theme was “the operation of divine grace on a group of diverse but closely connected characters.”  This authorial exposition of the theme is key, unlocking the deepest levels of meaning in the work.  The operation of divine grace means that there is a hidden hand at work, a supernatural presence acting on the characters.  It’s as though the novel’s chief protagonist is God Himself, Whose omnipotent and omniscient presence guides the narrative.  From a Christian perspective, this is nothing less than realism, in the sense that it reflects reality.  It is, however, very difficult for a novelist to suggest this presence without descending to the level of didacticism and preachiness.  It is a mark of Waugh’s brilliance that he succeeds with a theme that he himself described as “perhaps presumptuously large.”

1 comment:

  1. Great stuff! Thanks for the link, Frank. I'm eager to resturn to BR.