Leicester City, The Novel and Evelyn Waugh

BBC Radio 4 is repeating a December series by Simon Barnes entitled Everything You Think About Sport is Wrong. Episode 4 is called “The Novel” and explains how sport is like this literary form. Both tell a story and can spread the tale over several matches or volumes or in a single sitting. They can be epic stories like Vince Lombardi and tales with profoundly flawed heroes like Oscar Pistorius. Both forms have seven basic plots outlined by Christopher Booker: the quest, overcoming monsters, rags-to-riches, voyage and return, high comedy, rebirth and tragedy. The 2016 story of Leicester City Football Club and the Premier League title invokes most of these plots over a long series of novels (a roman fleuve of sport). Barnes concludes with a list of the novels brought to mind by Leicester’s pursuit of the title: Cinderella, King Arthur, My Fair Lady, Clark Kent emerging from the phone booth, the Spectacle Girl learning she was beautiful, The Ugly Duckling, Brideshead Revisited and Lucky Jim.

The link of the Leicester City story to most of these novels is fairly obvious but that to Brideshead, less so. Readers are invited to comment below if they see the connection. Thanks to reader Milena Borden for spotting this reference. 

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