The Guardian newspaper is this week running a series of articles on “Families in Literature.” Yesterday’s article, by Moira Redmond, is devoted to the Flyte family in Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited. Redmond focuses on the familiar theme that Sebastian is using his friendship with Charles to escape from the family, having been smothered by its “charm,” while Charles, having been enchanted by that same feature, seeks entry through Sebastian. Redmond concludes:
The book is a masterpiece: rereading it you can only gaze in admiration at the brilliant and hilarious details, though I’m never too clear how much charm any of the Flyte family has, apart from Sebastian. However Charles finds them so, and that is what matters. What will happen after the war? He will surely stay a family friend. The middle class boy makes good: Charles has found a family – eccentric older brother, loveable younger sister – and he has found God. Sebastian is a casualty along the way.
Other literary families appearing in the Guardian’s series include the Winshaws in Jonathan Coe’s What a Carve Up!, the Marches in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women and the Chances and Hazards in Angela Carter’s Wise Children.