"The highest achievement of man:" Evelyn Waugh Preaching Divine Purpose through Temporal Creations.
The purpose of this article is to explore some of the rhetorical choices made by Waugh in the text of A Handful of Dust as well as in Brideshead Revisited, with special reference to changes made between the first edition (1945) and the second (1960) of the latter, specifically from the point of view of rendering the aspect of divine guidance and conversion. Between the first and the final edition of Brideshead Revisited, Waugh made several versions and worked fervently on the language as well as the structure of the novel (see Davis 107-86). In addition to purely literary aims, it seems evident that Waugh is presenting his "magnum opus" (cf. Letters 176) as a treatise of the Catholic faith, and the climax of the death of Lord Marchmain and the subsequent conversion of the agnostic Charles Ryder, is foregrounded with ample rhetorical device. (1) A Handful of Dust, too, saw a number of revisions and restructurings, especially when negotiating between the serialised and the book-form publication of the novel (Davis 73-6). Looking at the final forms of both novels within the context of structural symbolism shows the use of a similar method, and alludes to a similar aim. A Handful of Dust "looks ahead to Waugh's explorations... of the interrelated order of nature and grace" (Patey 118), and Waugh stated as the primary aim of Brideshead Revisited "to trace the workings of the divine purpose in a pagan world" (Essays 288).
For Waugh, meaning is created with form, with the building and the (rhetorical) structure of his novels. Patterns and events make sense in the larger scheme of things. Numbers and symbols become codes to unlocking the underlying secret--eventually the secret of heaven and salvation. Although, traditionally, these novels are more easily interpreted as representing different sub-genres and different eras of the author's oeuvre (see Bradbury), considering them from the point of view of the building/structures shows that they have a similar framework. In order to persuade, to bring his reader to the same realisation and insight as Charles Ryder, or the same sense of liberation as Tony Last, Waugh moves subtly through the plot while building the structures and forming the arguments into an interconnected and interrelated pattern, on the larger structural level (taxis) as well as the lexical (lexis) (see Nash 32-33).
In his novels in general, and especially in A Handful of Dust and Brideshead Revisited, Waugh constructs much of his narrative around the image of a building (Heath 2-3); Tony Last's love for Hetton Abbey and Charles Ryder's fascination with Brideshead House present the building as a vehicle for Waugh's metaphor, the trope to carry his didactic intention. Waugh creates verbal structures depicting the buildings, where in a way "sign-values" of the images are to an extent even "subordinated to their importance as a structure of interconnected motifs" (Frye 74). The main aim in this article is to focus on this metaphor and show how Waugh creates physical space in order to present developments in the moral environment of the novel, or the movements into and within the influence of divine power (or God). By using the framework of (the medieval definition of) ekphrasis, Waugh creates a space and a place for the movement of divine grace as an element in the narrative. The place is what words make it to be. Although, on one level, we can read Waugh's irony in the references to the Gothic-Victorian scene vis-a-vis the theme of adultery and failure of marriage in A Handful of Dust, the same image also serves as a metaphor on a deeper level. When contemplating the role of man and the pursuit for virtue, the (structure of the) house stands for tradition, stability and righteousness; the irony in the book is "not an attack on [the main protagonist's] values" (Cook 134). In Brideshead Revisited, then, the house is more directly symbolic of divine intervention. The below will present some of the author's literary and linguistic choices in the novels in order to trace the rhetorical purpose of his presentation, and to show how the later novel is, ultimately, a work of religious persuasio.
Furthermore, the aim is to show that not only does Waugh use the ekphrastic method in the narrower (and more contemporary) sense of the description of images and buildings as such, but he predominantly employs the medieval aspect of focusing on the effect of the verbal description (see Webb Ekphrasis, Imagination). Verbal descriptions are used to consecrate and deconsecrate (as well as re-consecrate) a place: a building, a room, a space--and, through this, transform a situation, a relation, and a faith. Waugh creates verbal images of places in order to illustrate an abstract element in the narrative (morality in A Handful of Dust and "divine grace" in Brideshead Revisited 1960, "Preface," 9), and by linking the element to the description of the building, the words form the place to serve the purpose of the story. Furthermore, Waugh uses ekphrasis to valorise a subject matter in his narrative--virtue or faith (God)--thus heeding a didactic principle of his rhetorical pursuit. (2)
When applying the method of medieval ekphrasis to topics of morality and religion, this point becomes even more poignant: it remains a question of conviction or faith. Just as these rhetorical devices were originally used to recreate the image of a past or distant monument (James and Webb 11-12; see also Bachelard xvi), they are here also used to visualise an ideal state of an abstract phenomenon. Thus, they are, as for Procopius, simultaneously both a panegyric and a description (Elsner 35), yet using the tangible quality of the image of the building to conceptualise the nature of man's struggle for right and wrong, or his relationship with his God. With the descriptions, Waugh is constructing a verbal "intimate space," a Bachelardian "object" within which to define this abstract issue (Bachelard 190), and to bring it "before the eyes" of the reader (Webb Ekphrasis, Imagination 20).
The symbolic significance of the building in general--and of creating an illusive construction--is underlined further with a number of references in Waugh's novels. In the context of a game of patience, Waugh explains in A Handful of Dust how "under [Mrs Rattery's] fingers order grew out of chaos; she established sequence and precedence; the symbols before her became coherent, interrelated" (110). In Brideshead Revisited, too, the process of building the house "before the eyes" is a kind of an illusionist's trick. When discussing religious argument, the older Marchmain son, Bridey, states that he has to "turn a thing round and round, like a piece of ivory in a Chinese puzzle, until--click!--it fits into place--but by that time it's upside down to everyone else. But it's the same bit of ivory, you know" (145 ). In both novels the art of persuasio is also linked to the power to create a visual image.
For Waugh, the main vehicle for his metaphor is the building, the house of Hetton, or Brideshead. He also concentrates his main rhetorical argument around these metaphorical constructions. Originally, Hetton was a Gothic Abbey, rebuilt in 1864 for its upper-class occupants (HD 14); Brideshead used to be a castle, and it was taken down and rebuilt as a manor house, only a mile from its original site, for an equally prominent family (BR 94-5 ). In both these cases the actual historical scope of the building thus reaches much further back in time and tradition and beyond the memory of the present characters than, for example, the "worst possible 1860" (Waugh Letters 88) in A Handful of Dust. Also, in both narratives the building represents the aspiration of the characters: the fulfilment of their needs and dreams. Although the present house is mocked for being "devoid of interest" (HD 14) or ravished by the military transport going "smack through the box-hedge and [carrying] away all that balustrade" (BR 391), and although some of the scholarship seems ready to accept Waugh's scornfulness of the "bogus neo-Gothic ethos" (Beaty 90) so readily interpreted as Waugh's main agenda especially in A Handful of Dust, the symbolic value of the building runs much deeper. In the 1945 edition of
Brideshead Revisited Waugh presents his own ekphrastic perspective (in the words of the architectural painter and narrator Charles Ryder):
I have always loved building, holding it to be not only the highest achievement of man but one in which, at the moment of consummation, things were most clearly taken out of his hands and perfected, without his intention, by other means, and I regarded men as something much less than the buildings they made and inhabited, as mere lodgers and short-term sub-lessees of small importance in the long, fruitful life of their homes. (198)
This is a very accurate description, and as such a powerful metaphor: it is only by restructuring that the old building, consummated at one point in time, lives on "by other means." Beyond the social satire, Waugh, through his presentation of these buildings, "portrays his belief in the aristocracy as a link between the present and the meaningful past (DeVitis 33), and while the reader may laugh at the tragic-comedy, "Tony does believe.. in Hetton" (Patey 120).
Further support for reading these two novels together is that it has been convincingly shown (Byrne; Mulvagh) that the house upon which both Hetton and Brideshead are modelled is Madresfield House, the ancestral site of Waugh's longtime friends, the Lygon family. While the two fictional houses both in their different ways differ from the actual Madresfield, the overall structure is similar in all three, and, particularly, the history of Madresfield, like that of both Hetton and Brideshead, includes layered construction through centuries; and they all include a chapel. Waugh first visited Madresfield in 1931, and the two novels where the house is recreated for fictional and rhetorical purpose suggest that the house also had a spiritual significance for the recently converted author. Furthermore, A Handful of Dust has sometimes been seen as the most biographical of Waugh's novels, with Tony Last being "the fictional recreation of Waugh's pre-Catholic self" (Wykes 106), and in Brideshead Revisited, too, Waugh rewrites his own life events (Byrne 300-301) as well as, specifically, those of the Lygon family (Mulvagh; Sykes 252). While in A Handful of Dust the biographical element is focussed on Tony Last, a central character and the present owner of Hetton, depicted in the third person, in Brideshead Revisited we can see Waugh himself in the character of Charles Ryder, the narrator and a visitor to the house, the overall rhetorical method in the two novels is the same. Waugh is using the characters, and the different roles of the characters in relation to the house, within the structure of the novel and the structure of the house to illustrate his argument about values, tradition, and the workings of God.
In the final version of A Handful of Dust, three of the novel's seven chapters are named "English Gothic" (numbered I, II and III), which all in turn present an aspect of the narrative. The first "gothic" chapter focusses on the worldly life of the family, including deception and boredom, with descriptions ranging from "the line of its battlements against the sky" and "the central clock tower" with "quarterly chimes" (14). These images are slightly conventional, yet reassuringly established. The second "gothic" chapter occurs in the aftermath of the tragic death, thus illustrating the most desolate state of the characters and their souls. The chapter is distinguished most prominently by the fact that it takes place away from Hetton. The final "gothic" chapter finds the main protagonists lost to the world or at least to virtue, but it presents the reawakening of the house to a new beginning. As in the first chapter, there is work to be done "when death duties were paid off" (14), but the general mood is lighter and more optimistic:
High overhead among its gargoyles and crockets the clock chimed for the hour and solemnly struck fourteen. It was half-past eight. The clock has been irregular lately. It was one of the things Richard Last intended to see to, when death duties were paid and silver foxes began to show a profit. (218)
This notable symmetry of form is a central structural element of the novel, and it is underlined with the symmetry of the chapter titles (Davis 75). The recurring references to the chimes and the building emphasise this symmetry further.
The 1945 edition of Brideshead Revisited is divided into two main parts ("Books") in addition to the Prologue and Epilogue (both titled "Brideshead Revisited"). Book One, "Et in Arcadia Ego," contains the uncomplicated pleasures youth, with an increasing sense of loss and nostalgia as life proceeds. The title of Book Two, "A Twitch upon a Thread," with its reference to the Father Brown story by C. K. Chesterton from the troubled scene in the first part of the book, suggests that in this second part of the book God will gather home his chosen ones (or those who choose him)--to faith, to salvation, or to his church. Thematically, the books in the 1945 edition are organized temporally and present two time periods approximately ten years apart. The themes, which include the subsections where Charles Ryder takes leave of Brideshead as well as the Flyte family's London residence Marchmain House, cover the pleasures of youth as well as notions of loss. The revised edition, however, separates the themes of youth and love from those of loss and solitude in partitioning the subsections on leave-taking in the first book into a separate book (Book Two, "Brideshead Deserted").
The 1960 edition of Brideshead Revisited is thus divided into three main books (again, in addition to the Prologue and Epilogue both titled "Brideshead Revisited"). Book One ("Et in Arcadia Ego") sees the narrator first enter the house of his friends, Brideshead Castle. In Book Two ("Brideshead Deserted"), then, Charles Ryder leaves his friends and their house-and is furthest away from God and salvation, much like the Lasts in "English Gothic II" in A Handful of Dust--whereas in Book Three ("A Twitch upon the Thread") Charles returns, and eventually finds God.
In Brideshead Revisited (after the long passage about the significance of buildings which was cut from the 1960 edition, quoted above), Waugh also presents Charles's declaration (retained in the revised version) of his love for buildings "that grew silently with the centuries, catching and keeping the best of each generation, while time curbed the artist's pride and the Philistine's vulgarity, and repaired the clumsiness of the dull workman" (198 ). In the revised edition, however, with the long elaboration omitted, this point is more strongly emphasised in the structure of the book. The section (Book Two) title "Brideshead Deserted" brings focus to the aspect of the building while at the same time constructing a balanced set of three. Furthermore, the revised division underlines both the gravity of the loss in the narrative and the importance of the house as a symbol for the church and for faith, and eventually for redemption. After entering the house in courtship in youth, and deserting it in crisis, the house is re-entered in the end, both before the conversion at the end of Book Three and for solace and consolation in the Epilogue. (3) Similarly, in A Handful of Dust the house is deserted in crisis and reoccupied in an air of consolation.
The Catholic chapel of Brideshead, which has been moved to the site and rebuilt by the previously Protestant Lord Marchmain as a wedding present for his devout Catholic wife (48 ), is a strong rhetorical argument in the novel. (4) The descriptions of the chapel are first reported by the agnostic youth Charles Ryder, only cautiously reaching for the glamour of Catholicism and referring to the "arts-and-crafts style of the last decade of the nineteenth century," the "triptych of pale oak, carved so as to give it the peculiar property of seeming to have been moulded in Plasticine," and the "sanctuary lamp... of bronze, hand-beaten to the patina of a pock-marked skin" (48 ). After Lady Marchmain's death the chapel is closed, and the next description is one by her most devout daughter, Cordelia, watching the priest reverse the act of consecration with his wordless action. Cordelia's description of the chapel shows the same structures and details as Charles Ryder's, but it paints a different picture, focussing on the priest taking out "the altar stone and [putting] it in his bag," burning "the wads of wool with the holy oil on them and [throwing] the ash outside," emptying "the holy-water stoop and [blowing] out the lamp in the sanctuary," finally leaving "the tabernacle open and empty, as though from now on it was always to be Good Friday," and leaving Cordelia, not in a chapel, but in "just an oddly decorated room" (252-53 ).
During the Second World War the chapel is reopened by the elder Marchmain sister, Lady Julia, and Charles Ryder visits it again upon his return to Brideshead in the Epilogue. Again, the chapel is the same, but the words are different, more commonplace at first, but eventually rather respectful, and the description becomes more abstract by referring to buildings in general. Most importantly, this description "before the eyes" of the reader is now experienced "by conversion" (DeCoste 41) and given by a man of faith:
Something quite remote from anything the builders intended, has come out of their work, and out of the fierce little human tragedy in which I played; something none of us thought about at the time; a small red flame--a beaten-copper lamp of deplorable design relit before the beaten-copper doors of a tabernacle; the flame which the old knights saw from their tombs, which they saw put out; that flame burns again for other soldiers, far from home, farther, in heart, than Acre or Jerusalem. It could not have been lit but for the builders and the tragedians, and there I found it this morning, burning anew among the old stones. (395 )
Hetton manor, too, has housed a chapel, which had been in use until Tony Last's succession (HD, 21). After the death of Tony, there is a suggestion that the chapel be opened as a chantry, but nothing seems to come of it (146). This is a relevant detail as Tony, unlike Charles Ryder, is not saved by faith. However, the small local church has a central role in the novel. It is a place that Tony frequents as his obligation, and it is also where his wife Brenda wants to be seen with her husband to establish her loyalty and the perseverance of their marriage. The absurdity of the space of church/chapel created by Reverend Tendril's preaching in A Handful of Dust and even to some extent by Charles's initial impression of the Brideshead chapel (see above), occurs on the level of the social satire. Although Waugh at the time of his conversion in 1930 suggested that "all the finest ecclesiastical buildings are in the hands of the Anglican Church" and thus the Catholic Church cannot compete with "the purely aesthetic appeal" (Essays 103), he still depicts special solace in the ageless stone and timber of the chapel, and here he uses the hallowed building as a symbol for tradition and continuity.
Brideshead Revisited and A Handful of Dust also carry strong symbolic references to the cycle of the Resurrection on a number of levels. Firstly, the above-mentioned references to the structural presence of Brideshead castle in Brideshead Revisited and the English Gothic theme in A Handful of Dust, as well as, even more explicitly, the chapel-image, are all presented in threes. Jeffrey Heath suggests that Waugh in A Handful of Dust "is not yet in a stage where he enshrines affirmative values in character or symbol," but that his readers "must seek them instead in his language and structure" (104-05). However, the linguistic structure and the structure of the novel are too intertwined here to be ignored or read separately. This is as such a conventional narrative technique. However, it receives its specific religious significance from its thematic structure: in Brideshead Revisited, first, the (worldly) introduction to the temporal world, referring to Christ the man; secondly, the de-consecration and blowing out of the lamp in the sanctuary, denoting Good Friday and the death of Christ; and finally, the re-entrance, this time of the believer, to a re-consecrated chapel representing Resurrection. In A Handful of Dust the same structure prevails: the first English Gothic chapter presents the worldly, temporal view; the second chapter, like "Brideshead Deserted," denotes death and despair. In the final chapter there is "a light breeze in the dewy orchards; brilliant cool sunshine over meadows and copses; the elms were all in bud in the avenue" (218). Here, too, the biblical cycle frames the narrative and gives it its resonance, and the final chapter points to rebirth and, eventually, to Resurrection.
From the point of view of the overall rhetorical structure of Waugh's argument, it may be of interest to note how this biblical cycle of threes is also supported by the role of the women in the narrative. In Brideshead Revisited it is the male narrator who tells the story, and also recounts the chapel scenes; in the New Testament the gospel is related by men. Yet, the chapel is opened for a woman, like the child given to Mary. Cordelia observes the deconsecration in the corner of the chapel, much in the vein of the women who observed Christ's death in silence on Good Friday; and finally, as it was the women who brought the gospel of the Easter morning--relit the lamp, witnessed the Resurrection--so Lady Julia makes penance by perpetuating the sacred light. This is, of course, as such a very traditional and conservative (or biblical) reading of the narrative. The early Christian congregation often had to resort to meeting underground, often supported by wealthy women providing the secret meeting rooms (see Romans 16: 1-2), and thus it is only appropriate that the chapel in Brideshead Revisited is located--and is dependent upon--the home of Lady Marchmain. The conversion of Charles Ryder in Brideshead Revisited is accommodated by a woman, by his love for Julia (DeCoste 39), whereas the conversion as such is related by a male narrator, as in the Gospels and the Epistles. In A Handful of Dust, with a similarly biblical indication, it is the weakness and transgression of the woman that leads to demise, also of the man in the story. The vice of the woman and her responsibility for the man's fall, in all its irony, is almost Miltonic in scope, but eventually morality prevails, in the new generation of occupants of Hetton. Furthermore, Mrs Beaver and Mrs Rattery seem to carry the plot in a taciturn manner very similar to the silent women in the Bible. While Waugh does not make a point about gender in the plot of the novels, it is significant to note his use of the biblical allusion as a structural and rhetorical device.
In the later edition of Brideshead Revisited Waugh's textual additions and omissions are very subtle, but they do persistently direct the reader to follow the rhetorical point. Waugh seems to have omitted some obvious and perhaps too conspicuous religious references from the beginning of the revised edition. In the opening description of Charles's first visit to Brideshead, the phrase "when leaf and flower and bird-and sun-lit stone and shadow seem all to proclaim the glory of God" (20 ) has been omitted. Also, in a description of the "languor of Youth" the phrase "the sun standing still in the heavens and the earth throbbing to our own pulse" (71 ), with its rather direct reference to Joshua commanding the sun to stand still in the sky, (5) is omitted and only the more worldly description remains. Later still, when it is said of Julia that "[f]rom that moment she shut her mind against her religion" (167 ), the words "come to church [and]" are omitted from her priest's appeal for her to come to confession. It seems evident that Waugh wants to present the topic even more delicately in the revised edition, cutting the religious/biblical references from the episodes where they would draw unnecessary attention to the underlying design. Also, the religious references are not forced in the narrator's discourse at times of his life when he (the originally agnostic Charles Ryder) would not have been aware of the development himself, but rather through subconscious numerical structures.
There are also two significant additions in the revised edition of Brideshead Revisited. The first one is in the scene where Charles first enters Brideshead and makes his way with Sebastian up to see Nanny Hawkins at "the nurseries, high in the dome in the centre of the main block" (33 ). In the revised edition Waugh has added the observation: "The dome was false" (44 ). It is notable that this addition is introduced here, at a time when the building is entered for the wrong reason, as it were, for temporal, not celestial love. Secondly, a subtle but highly significant addition for the tone of the final "Book" of the novel is the adjective in the phrase "For nearly ten dead years after that evening with Cordelia" (259 ; emphasis added). Instead of an elaboration on memory, which is omitted in the revision, (6) Waugh inserts one little word, "dead," that describes the years away from Brideshead, away from true love--and away from God--and readjusts the focus of the story.
Brideshead Revisited is a novel about entering the house of God and about finding salvation. This topic was fundamental for Waugh. The novel may--and will--attract on several levels, but its primary aim was to tell the story of the conversion of Charles Ryder, thus "being God's creature with a defined purpose" (Waugh in 1946, Essays 302). Like Edmund Campion, he wanted to engage in a linguistic argument for his cause (Waugh Edmund 15). This is especially evident when discussing the changes between the editions of Brideshead Revisited and in comparison to his rhetorical techniques in A Handful of Dust. On the level of the overall structure of both novels discussed here, Waugh shifts the focus from the story to the symbolism of the building (i.e. Hetton as an emblem of forsaken values, or Brideshead as a symbol for the house of God). He underlines the movement to and from the building in the three-part division, and thus the actual geographical location of the characters (particularly of Charles Ryder and Tony Last) becomes relevant for the plot. (7)
As a symbol and framework for an abstract idea, the building is a solid construction. As with the Byzantine writers, however, creating depictions of imaginary or distant buildings carries an even stronger purpose. For Waugh, creating place with words, raising the image of the building, is larger than stone and timber, and while it is also more significant than any human being, by reflecting, illustrating and expounding man's life, his morality, and his faith, it is also "the highest achievement of man." Tony Last can be seen to fail in his quest for peace and, finally, even God, but Charles Ryder finds the lamp burning again in the chapel in the Epilogue. Tony cannot be saved because he "embodies the humanist endeavour to live a good life without religion" (McDonnell 73) and "without faith [humanism] is no better than barbarism" (Heath 105). Charles, however, receives "the strength to go on alone" (McDonnell 149), or perhaps more accurately owing to his awakened faith, with God. Even with the opposite endings, though--or perhaps very much because of them--both novels serve the same purpose: showing how "finding a way out of the waste land" goes "through the doors of the Church" (DeVitis 52).
Maybe, in Brideshead, we are structurally revisiting Hetton, in order to give the protagonist a chance for a happier ending.
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(1) For further discussion on Brideshead Revisited and Waugh's rhetorical purpose, see Salenius.
(2) The starting point for rhetorical ekphrasis can be found in Medieval Byzantine (4th-14th c.), with the practice of using verbal descriptions to validate religious art and to valorise God (James 2), preferably in minute detail (Webb Ekphrasis 67-68). Byzantine rhetors like Procopius of Caesarea (6th c. AD, especially in his final work, the panegyric of the Emperor Justinian, through the tribute to the great Constantinople church Hagia Sophia, De Aedificiis) developed this practice further, and for them the description of building became a vehicle to celebrate God (or, with Procopius especially, an emperor) (Elsner 40; Whitby 47). In Byzantine practice of ekphrasis, where the writers had often not seen the works (or buildings) that they were describing (James 3), the aim was almost literally "to bring before the eyes" an imagined image of that which could not be seen (Webb Ekphrasis, Imagination 20).
(3) If we look at the thematic value/information added by the structural alterations in the revised division of Brideshead Revisited, we can see that Waugh in the additional division retains Books One and Three with a number of subsections divisible by (the holy number) three whereas the middle section (Book Two) presents seven subdivisions in the narrative, thus introducing the particularly holy number seven. Here this number can be seen to signify the deserted house, Charles Ryder's journey (geographically and mentally) farthest away from Brideshead, and faith, his seven-year famine, as it were--what he refers to as the "ten dead years" (with the word "dead" added in this later edition). The section can also be further interpreted symbolically as a seven-day (re-)creation of the soul, or the Jewish seven-day purification. Furthermore, it is noteworthy that A Handful of Dust, too, is constructed in a format with seven chapters (see above).
(4) For a more detailed discussion of the chapel in Brideshead Revisited, see Polvinen and Salenius.
(5) "Then spake Joshua to the Lord in the day when the Lord delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. / And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day." (Joshua 10: 12-13)
(6) These memories are the memorials and pledges of the vital hours of a lifetime. These hours of afflatus in the human spirit, the springs of art, are, in their mystery, akin to the epochs of history, when a race which for centuries has lived content, unknown, behind its own frontiers, digging, eating, sleeping, begetting, doing, what was requisite for survival and nothing else, will, for a generation or two, stupefy the world, bring to birth and nurture a teeming brood of genius, droop soon with the weight of its grandeur, fall, but leave behind a record of new rewards won for all mankind; the vision fades, the soul sickens, and the routine of survival starts again. The human soul enjoys these rare, classic periods, but, apart from them, we are seldom single or unique; we keep company in this world with a hoard of abstractions and reflexions and counterfeits of ourselves--the sensual man, the economic man, the man of reason, the beast, the machine and the sleep-walker, and heaven knows what else besides, all in our own image, indistinguishable from ourselves to the outward eye. We get borne along, out of sight in the press, unresisting, till we get the chance to drop behind unnoticed, or to dodge down a side street, pause, breathe freely and take our bearings, or to push ahead, outdistance our shadows, lead them a dance, so that when at length they catch up with us, they look at one another askance, knowing we have a secret we shall never share. (197-8 )
(7) It has frequently been noted how travel played an important part in Evelyn Waugh's thinking and writing (see Patey; Wykes 103), which shows in how his work stretches to depictions of several continents. This also brings a further metaphorical level to his narrative.
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|Title Annotation:||"A Handful of Dust" and "Brideshead Revisited"|
|Publication:||Evelyn Waugh Studies|
|Article Type:||Critical essay|
|Date:||Dec 22, 2017|
|Previous Article:||Waugh and the Profession.|
|Next Article:||Anthony Powell: Dancing to the Music of Time.|