strange_complex: (Sebastian boozes)
This year, I watched most of the ITV series, saw the movie and visited the set of both, not to mention reading the author's first novel. So it seemed like about time I sat down and read the book.

It's brilliant. Every line of it resonates with a profound love of the English language - and it's a testimony to the way the ITV series made use of this that as I read, I heard not only the lines they actually used in Jeremy Irons' voice, but those they did not as well.

I did find the prologue hard going because of all its military jargon. There were several sentences I had to read twice before I could even guess at what they meant. I'm pretty sure the same would have been true of some of the Oxford sections, too, if I hadn't happened to have been there - and indeed specifically to Christ Church - myself. Otherwise, though, it is seductively easy reading; suffused with the sunshine and passion and luxury which make up the story. I only wish I had known about this site, which would have helped me significantly in the military sections.

My view of the plot hasn't changed significantly since I commented on it after watching the film, although I'm more fully aware of the changes they made for the cinema now - and all the more baffled by them, too. I also find almost all of the characters fuller and more complex now, and generally feel greater sympathy for them too. I should note that I actually read the revised version published in 1960, in the preface of which Waugh states that the book is "re-issued with many small additions and some substantial cuts", so that I will have received a slightly different impression of the whole than I would from the original edition (some notes on the sorts of changes that were made are here).

Brideshead probably isn't a very good guide to the general tenor of Waugh's novels - it's certainly far more self-consciously epic and weighty than Decline and Fall, and I enjoyed it more probably for those very reasons. (And enough to devote one of my new icon-spaces to it, too!) Waugh himself appears to have been somewhat ambiguous about it, considering it to be both his greatest achievement and something of an embarrassment at different times. But, in their different ways, I've heartily enjoyed both of his books that I've read this year, and intend to come back for more.

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strange_complex: (Christ Church Mercury)
I am back from Bristol now, and it was great! However, it was so great that I am totally cream-crackered, and not remotely up to doing it justice in a post. So, instead, I am going to rewind to Thursday evening, and a garden party which I attended with Fleur WINOLJ.

The event took place in the Cathedral Gardens in Christ Church: particularly special for us, what with us both being former members of the House. They are reputedly the gardens on which C.S. Lewis (oops!) Lewis Carroll drew for Alice in Wonderland, and are usually out of bounds to mere student scum. Although Fleur had been in them before (to perform as the Queen of Hearts in a play of the same), I never had in my life, so I could very much sympathise with Alice's long quest to get there.

The goal of the evening was to Save Venice by raising lots of lovely money. So we set to work, content in the knowledge that the more we drank, the safer Venice would be. The evening went on until gone midnight (although we decamped from ChCh to Corpus Christi gardens with Fleur's friend Michael around 10ish), and it was so warm I didn't even think of putting my shirt on until gone 11. Along the way, we drank Bellinis, ate strange fennel-flavoured biscuity things, bitched a lot about other people's dress sense, and took these photos:

Fleur and I revisit the old Alma Mater )

Fleur enjoying her Bellini )

Me, communing with nature )

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