by Evelyn Waugh
Brideshead Revisited Memory and The Past Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Book.Chapter.Paragraph)
He told me and, on the instant, it was as though someone had switched off the wireless, and a voice that had been bawling in my ears, incessantly, fatuously, for days beyond number, had been suddenly cut short; an immense silence followed, empty at first, but gradually, as my outraged sense regained authority, full of a multitude of sweet and natural and long-forgotten sounds – for he had spoken a name that was so familiar to me, a conjuror's name of such ancient power, that, at its mere sound, the phantoms of those haunted late years began to take flight. (prologue.95)
It seems that Charles has shut away the past and moved on completely from Brideshead and the Flyte family. Revisiting the estate, then, is more than just a trip down memory lane – he’s forced to deal with the past that he has shut away.
"Just the place to bury a crock of gold," said Sebastian. "I should like to bury something precious in every place where I've been happy and then, when I was old and ugly and miserable, I could come back and dig it up and remember." (1.1.20)
Indeed, Charles "digs up" this idea again, towards the end of Book One, Chapter Six. He drives away from Brideshead and feels he will return again "as ghosts are said to do, frequenting the spots where they buried material treasures." Interesting…
It is easy, retrospectively, to endow one's youth with a false precocity or a false innocence; to tamper with the dates marking one's stature on the edge of the door. I should like to think – indeed I sometimes do think – that I decorated those rooms with Morris stuffs and Arundel prints and that my shelves were filled with seventeenth-century folios and French novels of the second empire in Russia-leather and watered-silk. But this was not the truth. (1.1.28)
Charles admits the embarrassing "truth" here about the artistic preferences of his youth – but can we trust him elsewhere in his narration?