Weekend Roundup: Brideshead in the News

Alan Hollinghurst’s latest novel The Sparsholt Affair  is being released in the USA next week and is reviewed in the Boston Globe. The Globe’s reviewer, Priscilla Gilman, as with several in the UK, notes the book’s conections with Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited:

The first section, “A New Man,” is utterly captivating and immersive. It is a literary memoir by former Oxford student Freddie Greene, whose wry, bemused, plummy voice is perfectly realized. With wit and elan to spare, Greene expatiates on the intrigue that ensues when David Sparsholt, an engineering student with a fiancĂ©e, Connie, and a plan to join the Royal Air Force, arrives at Oxford in 1940….Sparsholt’s enigmatic allure, the impossibility of possessing, knowing, or pinning him down casts a dreamy spell over character and reader alike. In this “New Man” section, rife with “brief dislocated intimacies” and “fleeting alliance[s]”, Hollinghurst gives us a brilliant homage to Evelyn Waugh’s Oxford novels while creating a mood of provocative possibility and ominous foreboding distinctively his own.

Brideshead is also the inspiration for the posting of a recipe in The Guardian. This is sorrel soup which appears on the menu in Waugh’s novel: “I remember the dinner well – soup of oseille, a sole quite simply cooked in a white-wine sauce, a caneton Ă  la presse, a lemon soufflĂ©.”  The Guardian article, from a correspondent in Brisbane, Australia where it is now late summer, offers this context:

…as I reminded myself of the other courses Charles Ryder orders – a sole in white wine sauce and a dish of pressed duck – I decided that, although it certainly would have been served hot in Paris, I was happy to reimagine it as a cold soup. And on a muggy January night in Brisbane, it’s the only version I could imagine eating. The sharp acidity of the sorrel is tempered by the egg and cream, though they’re added in small amounts so that the soup doesn’t taste too rich. I could have eaten the whole pan – it’s a soup I’ll be repeating.

The Atlantic magazine ran a poll on the question of which fictional house you would prefer to live it. One respondent made this choice:

Meg Wolitzer, author, The Female Persuasion

As someone who happily grew up in a suburb off the Long Island Expressway (Exit 43), once in a while I imagine what it would’ve been like to spend my childhood wandering the echoing halls of Brideshead Castle, from Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited—English accent included.

The MSN.com website’s Insider column chooses the 50 best TV shows from history to watch in  a lifetime during what it sees as another “golden TV age” dawning. At number 4 is the Granada TV production based on Waugh’s novel:

Brideshead Revisited (1981). Considered by many critics to be the gold standard in adapting a novel to TV, “Brideshead Revisited” starred Jeremy Irons and Anthony Andrews as a pair of friends from youth to adulthood who grow apart. Evelyn Waugh’s classic novel gets deep into its character’s heads, but the adaptation gives it time to breath and translates it into an entirely new medium instead of simply staging the same scenes.

It was outranked by The Sopranos, Game of Thrones and The Wire at #s 1, 2, and 3 respectively.

The CBC has posted on its website’s books column My Life in Books a list of the favorite books of its sportscaster Andi Petrillo. Among those selected was Waugh’s The Loved One:

“I caught myself laughing out loud many times reading The Loved One by Evelyn Waugh. This is one of my favourite satirical novels. Instead of getting angry with the human pursuit of social status, this novel mocks it using humour by exaggerating our chase for it through how we depict ourselves even in death.”

Finally, BBC Radio 4 has reposted a 1999 broadcast of its series A Good Read. In this, the presenter Bel Mooney discusses three books with  guests Hunter Davies (novelist and biographer) and Jim Sergeant (BBC Chief Political Correspondent). All three participants had had experience as  journalists and brought this to bear in a discussion of Waugh’s 1938 novel Scoop. This forms the first discussion of three on the 30 minute episode.

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