Critical Assessment

Brideshead Revisited is not only Waugh’s best novel, it stands with South Wind and Point Counterpoint as one of the half dozen really great novels written this century by an English writer. It shines with almost indecent brilliance against the background of dull professional competence which marks the contemporary English novel. . . .

“As sheer literary creations, however, no better rounded characters have been sculped in a decade. These people live, breathe and suffer with agonizing verisimilitude. They are seen as on Judgment Day with every weakness and strength completely revealed.”

Sterling North, “Waugh Jerks School Tie of Feudal Aristocracy in First Work Since War,” The Washington Post, January 6, 1946.

First Excerpt

“That night and the night after and the night after, wherever she went, always in her own little circle of intimates, she brought a moment of joy, such as strikes deep to the heart on the river’s bank when the kingfisher suddenly flares across the water.

“This was the creature, neither child nor woman, that drove me through the dusk that summer evening, untroubled by love, taken aback by the power of her own beauty, hesitating on the cool edge of life; one who had suddenly found herself armed, unawares; the heroine of a fairy story turning over in her hands the magic ring; she had only to stroke it with her fingertips and whisper the charmed word, for the earth to open at her feet and belch forth her titanic servant, the fawning monster who would bring her whatever she asked, but bring it, perhaps, in unwelcome shape.”


Second Excerpt

“So I set out after dinner, with the consular porter going ahead lantern in hand. Morocco was a new and strange country to me. Driving that day, mile after mile, up the smooth, strategic road, past the vineyards and military posts and the new, white settlements and the early crops already standing high in the vast, open fields, and the hoardings advertising the staples of France – Dubonnet, Michelin, Magasin du Louvre – I had thought it all very suburban and up-to-date; now, under the stars, in the walled city, whose streets were gentle, dusty stairways, and whose walls rose windowless on either side, closed overhead, then opened again to the stars; where the dust lay thick among the smooth paving stones and figures passed silently, robed in white, on soft slippers or hard, bare soles; where the air was scented with cloves and incense and wood smoke – now I knew what had drawn Sebastian here and held him so long.”