Monday, July 27, 2009

A promising early career

Current book: Brideshead Revisited
Pages read: 3-68

Oh, man. This book is awesome. I don't know what it is, precisely, but I find the prose compelling in the extreme. The voice and the character development is superb in its realism, and lends the story humor, nostalgia, and intrigue at intervals. I'm telling myself not to read too much of it all at once, but I don't know if I'll be able to hold out. (Although the thought of the upcoming Naked Lunch should keep me from going too fast.)

So far, we've met Charles Ryder, currently a Captain in the British army during World War II, whose company has just been transferred to an area near the Bride river. As it turns out, Charles spent a lot of time there during his days at Oxford. After that short introduction, we're plunged into the story of Charles's Oxford days and how he came to spend so much time at Brideshead, the manor house located near the Bride. Charles wastes a lot of his time at Oxford with Sebastian, the second son of the Earl of Brideshead, who carries around a teddy bear at all times and charms most of the student body. Basically, we've witnessed their meeting and subsequent hijinks, and the final term of Charles's first year has just let out for summer. Because Charles has squandered his allowance for the year and his father won't give him any more money, he's forced to sit at home and brood about all the fun things he could be doing. He's only been home a couple of days, but it looks to me as though Sebastian, or something else, might come to save him from his poverty and boredom.

Like I said, Evelyn Waugh's kind of amazing. This story doesn't sound all that thrilling, but with Waugh's characterizations and powers of description, I find myself enthralled even by the most insignificant of interludes. It even made me lose track of time on the elliptical machine. Considering that I class working out as a form of self-inflicted torture, that's fairly impressive.

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