From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
We have changed our privacy policy. In addition, we use cookies on our website for various purposes. By continuing on our website, you consent to our use of cookies. You can learn about our practices by reading our privacy policy.
© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
Brideshead Revisited

Brideshead Revisited


by Evelyn Waugh

Analysis: What’s Up With the Epigraph?

Epigraphs are like little appetizers to the great entrée of a story. They illuminate important aspects of the story, and they get us headed in the right direction.

"I am not I; thou art not he or she; they are not they."

First of all, it’s not an epigraph – it’s the author’s note. But we figured this is as good a place as any to talk about it and, besides, it functions a bit like an epigraph; it’s just that the quote is from the author himself, not from another source. (Think of it as an egotistical epigraph.)

So what’s up with the author’s note? This here theory seems to be your best bet: Scholar Jane Mulvagh believes that the author’s note is Waugh’s little way of saying that Brideshead and the Flyte family are not fictional – they are based on a real family and a real estate – Madresfield. (Read all about it here.) If you buy it, then "I am not I; thou art not he or she; they are not they" is the author’s way of saying that Charles isn’t just Charles, Sebastian isn’t just Sebastian, etc. His novel is a mingling of the fictional and the real.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...