Brideshead Revisited is the story of a young man’s aesthetic education as he discovers a world of architectural beauty and struggles to build a life as an artist. Nearly all the novel’s main relationships revolve around aesthetics, from love affairs based on beauty to friendships based on friendships built solely around artistic instruction. One idea explored in the novel is the threat of charm to artistic sensibilities. British charm in particular, claims one aesthete, is deadly, as it will strangle artistic passion by keeping it all neat and orderly.
Questions About Art and Culture
- Trace Charles’s aesthetic growth throughout the novel. What does he learn, when, and from whom?
- Who is the greater influence on Charles’s artistry – Sebastian or Anthony? What do they each do for Charles? What about Celia – does she encourage or stifle his abilities?
- How much of Charles’s love for Julia has to do with her beauty? For that matter, how much of his friendship with Sebastian is based on his "epicene beauty"?
- Charles finds Julia’s sadness to be "the completion of her beauty." What kind of connection is THAT? Why would being sad and wondering if her life holds any value make her more beautiful? Weird
Chew on This
In Brideshead Revisited, Charles finds God through art.
Through his novel, Waugh condemns Charles’s attempt to replace God with art.