The York Press carries a story in which Damian Cruden, director of the stage adaptation of Brideshead Revisited that opens tomorrow in York, explains his interpretation of the novel. In Cruden’s view:
“Above all it’s a family saga, with its fair share of whimsy and is definitely not to be taken entirely seriously, but it’s wonderful telling of a tale that does have something to do with defining the nature of Englishness, and undoubtedly it was one of the defining novels of the 20th century,” said Damian.
“Not that Waugh was completely happy with it, as he revised the book for the American publication in the 1950s because he had some issues with it. He was concerned it was too pastoral or over-saccharine, but I don’t agree with that. It might not be as cutting or as sharp as Vile Bodies, but what Waugh does is take a story that stretches a long way back in time and also looks a long way forward.
“He looks at how the Roman Catholic Church and the aristocracy sit in England, between the wars, as Charles Ryder recounts his memories of this aristocratic way of life and this family that seemed to have everything but in fact have nothing. The one thing the Flytes end up with is their faith, which is stronger than anything else. For Charles too, he wants to be able to believe; he wants faith.”
The U.K. edition of the novel was revised in 1960 for the reasons given by Cruden. Those revisions were not incorporated into the U.S. edition until 2012.