Charles Ryder’s Outside-the-Book Experiences

Two postings make use of Charles Ryder’s experiences from Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited in contexts outside the structure of the novel. On a Roman Catholic weblog (Aleteia), Br. Silas Henderson is reminded, on the Feast Day of the Epiphany (6th January), of Charles’ experience at Lord Marchmain’s deathbed:

Near the end of the novel, Ryder has an awakening, an epiphany, as he watches the final act of faith of a man he presumed shared his ambivalence toward Catholicism. Despite himself, Ryder “felt the longing for a sign… the hand moved slowly down his breast, then to his shoulder, and Lord Marchmain made the Sign of the Cross. Then I knew the sign I had asked for was not a little thing, not a passing nod of recognition, and a phrase came back to me from my childhood of the veil of the temple being rent from top to bottom.” In the ancient world, an epiphaneia was a visible manifestation of a god or the solemn visit of a secular ruler to the cities of his realm. The celebration of the Epiphany of the Lord brings together the quiet realizations of a Charles Ryder with the grandeur of a king’s visit and in the celebration of this great feast, we are not passively remembering the journey of the Magi—Epiphany is a dynamic feast celebrating the redemption that has been won for us through the Incarnation of Christ.

In a more mundane context, another writer is reminded of Charles’ ecstatic reaction (perhaps even another epiphany) to the seemingly idyllic world of the Marchmain family at Brideshead Castle. This is by Terry Cutler from the sports pages of

“If it could only be like this always – always summer, always alone, the fruit always ripe…” Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited. Manchester City rose to the English Premier League summit on August 28, 2016, with a 3-1 victory over West Ham United at Etihad Stadium with a performance that suggested new manager Pep Guardiola’s vision was already half realized.

But City’s early run of victories was soon broken by several defeats as the season progressed (or regressed, as the case may be):

Like Charles Ryder realizing the Brideshead of reality did not match his memory, Guardiola was awoken with a bucket of cold water from his dream… All of which means by January 6, 2017, his first-ever experience of FA Cup football as a manager, Guardiola must find a way through the longest cold snap of his career. 

City won yesterday’s FA Cup match against West Ham 5-0, so perhaps the Ryderian summer reveries have re-emerged, at least while the team can bask in the glow of that resounding victory. 

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