Second Companion Book – Brideshead Revisited

I promised that I would search for a second companion book to accompany the first companion book which I have already discussed, Atlas Shrugged.  I have found that second book.  This second book is Brideshead Revisted by Evelyn Waugh.

Whereas Atlas Shrugged is concerned with the road to happiness in this life, Brideshead Revisited is concerned with the road to happiness in the next life.  Some critics believe that this book is primarily about family, love, or the English aristocracy.  I believe that the book is primarily about religion; and, thus I agree with the author, who states in the preface to his book, “the book’s theme is the operation of divine grace on a group of diverse but closely connected characters…” It is through the willingness to accept this grace that a few of the main characters receive one or more of the three theological virtues (faith, hope, and charity).  By accepting these virtues, the characters move closer to happiness in the next life.  In addition, the author makes very clear that these virtues have a similar effect on the characters’ road to happiness in this life.  In essence, the theological virtues help the characters to find the road to happiness in this life as well as the next life.

Brideshead Revisited was written during the Second World War.  The author was serving in the British Army and took time to write about several years during his youth spent visiting with family members of Brideshead estate.  He wrote the book having come across Brideshead for a second time while serving in the British Army.

The book is beautifully written and touches upon the British aristocracy of the early 1900s.  It concerns the narrator and his interaction with the Catholic family of Brideshead surrounded by Protestant aristocracy.  This great novel deserves to be treated as one of the two companion books to my book for one main reason: it vividly portrays the road to happiness in the next life better than any other work of art that I have come across.  While other books are better at articulating love, and family, and the English aristocracy, no other book is better at articulating  the road to happiness in the next life through divine grace.

In 1998, the Modern Library ranked the novel as number 80 on its list of 100 best English-language works of the 20th century.  In addition, it was chosen by Time Magazine as one of the 100 best English-laguage books from 1923 to the present.

In the next four posts I will explore the impact of divine grace on the actions of each of four main characters.  Hopefully, this will help to better understand the theme of the book.

More to come!

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