Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Hypnagogic skillz, yo.

Current book: Brideshead Revisited
Pages read: 148-238

I don't mean to brag (except for how I pretty much do), but the last paragraph of the previous post was incredibly coherent and eloquent considering the fact that I was literally falling asleep at the keyboard as I wrote it. I actually had to backspace a line of repeated keystrokes that were caused by my sleep-paralyzed fingers lingering on the t. Anyway, that's not relevant, but I'm kind of amazing.

Charles is successful at Parisian art school, and eventually turns his hand to architectural studies, at which he is quite talented. Sebastian, however, sinks further into his alcoholism, causing numerous uncomfortable scenes at family gatherings. He eventually disappears and takes up residence in Casablanca (Which is in Morocco, if you didn't know. But you should have, because there's no excuse for not having seen the movie.) where Sebastian is later forced to track him down to tell him that his mother is dying. He's too busy living a debauched life with a young German man to come back to say goodbye to her (it's unclear whether they're lovers, but it could go either way pretty easily), and we're left with the impression that it'll all come to no good.

Julia, Sebastian's sister, enters into an unfortunate union with a longtime Canadian friend, Rex Mottram. He turns out to be rather a cad, but by the time she really learns that, it's too late for Julia to give him up, due to her abiding and passionate love, so they get married anyway. After the episode of Sebastian's mother's death, Charles makes his living as a professional architectural painter, publishing several folios of England's great houses and one of Latin American architecture, to great acclaim. He, too, is married, to the sister of a friend from Oxford, but the marriage hardly seems a happy one. What little we've seen of his wife pretty much consisted of the two fighting about the children, the house, and Charles's painting expeditions. As I left them, Charles and his wife were just setting off on a cruise to America upon which they had encountered, by chance, Julia and Rex. Cue romantic intrigue.

I realize this book sounds a helluva lot like many of the other books I've read, as far as the plot goes, but somehow it's entirely different. Whether it's the fact that Waugh's writing in 1944, that he's gifted and evocative with his characterization and description, that I'm in the right mood for him, or, more likely, a combination of the above, this book is far more compelling than its counterparts written in earlier times. I don't know what it is about 1920s prose, but it kind of drives me insane. It wasn't, it seems to me, until later in the century that the tone of the modern novel actually managed to resolve itself into something admirable.

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