Study Guide

Brideshead Revisited Analysis

  • Tone

    Wry, Nostalgic

    The comic exchanges between Charles and his misanthropic father are some of the most famous in the novel, or even in Waugh’s collective work. This type of sardonic humor pervades Brideshead Revisited. The novel ruthlessly satirizes the extravagance of the British aristocracy. Just look at Julia’s diamond-studded tortoise and the reactions it provokes: Lady Marchmain wonders if it eats the same things as an ordinary tortoise, and Samgrass wants to know if they can stick another tortoise in the shell when it dies. You’ve also got "life-size effigy of a swan, moulded in ice and filled with caviar," a "chilly piece of magnificence," in Charles’s words, "dripping at the beak." (Hilarious.) Waugh also mocks the careless attitudes of the spoiled rich, mostly through Boy Mulcaster, who rings a fire alarm one night in order to "cheer things up" at a boring nightclub.

    But this wry wit it in constant balance with the novel’s melancholy nostalgia. This sadness really hits home in passages like this one:

    How ungenerously in later life we disclaim the virtuous moods of our youth, living in retrospect long, summer days of unreflecting dissipation, Dresden figures of pastoral gaiety! Our wisdom, we prefer to think, is all of our own gathering, while, if the truth be told, it is, most of it, the last coin of a legacy that dwindles with time. (1.3.6)

    Remember that the older, narrator Charles is telling the story, which means the attitude with which he reflects on his past experiences will largely define the novel’s tone. Because in the 1940s he is "homeless, childless, middle-aged, loveless," it is with a sense of longing that he looks back the "Arcadian days" of his youth. The novel may end on an "unusually cheerful" note (see "What’s Up With the Ending?"), but narrator Charles is melancholy for the all of his remembrance.

  • Genre

    Family Drama, Romance, Tragicomedy

    Family seems to the source of everyone’s problems in Brideshead Revisited. Familial conflict certainly drives the novel’s plot and themes, from Lady Marchmain’s machinations to Lord Marchmain’s bitter resentment to Sebastian’s impenetrable suffering. Charles’s own story only begins once he becomes entrenched in the Flyte family web. If Charles’s friendship with Sebastian dominates the first book of Brideshead, his romance with Julia controls the second. The ups and downs of their respective marriages, divorces, and of course their affair are at the core of the post half-time drama. As far as "tragicomedy" goes, Waugh manages to combine his wry, mocking sense of humor with the very serious subject matter of religion and lost love. Sebastian’s end in Morocco and Charles’s doomed love with Julia is no picnic, but at the same time the sarcastic commentary on war, society, and wealth keeps us smiling.

  • What’s Up With the Title?

    (Note: This section is about the title of the novel, "Brideshead Revisited." For a discussion of the two internal titles, "Book One, Et in Arcadia Ego" and "Book Two, A Twitch Upon the Thread," see Shmoop’s "Symbols, Imagery, Allegory.")

    Brideshead refers to the country estate where the Flytes live. Charles’s relationship with Sebastian is almost eclipsed by his relationship to the Brideshead estate itself. (Notice that, at the start of his recollection, Charles first recounts his initial visit to Brideshead Castle and only then steps back in time to reveal his first meeting with Sebastian.) His dream of marrying Julia is similarly overwhelmed by the possibility of his inheriting the estate. And though the characters around Charles come and go and his relationships with them shift, evolve, and even disintegrate, it is always Brideshead that remains – the frame story is the clearest proof of this.

    Part of the reason for Charles’s utter fascination with the estate is his profession: he’s an artist. He appreciates beauty, and in particular architecture, which we know becomes his specialty. Check out this passage: "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." Remember also that Charles paints a medallion on the wall of the garden-room at every one of his visits. The house is literally a record of his growth as an artist. So Brideshead itself hits on one big theme in the book: aesthetics.

    After you read Charles’s "Character Analysis," you should be comfortable with the idea that, for him, art is a religion. Or at least it’s his initial substitute for a belief in God. This means that Brideshead – the epitome of architectural beauty and Charles’s gateway into a world of aesthetics and art – is very much tied to the second of the novel’s central themes: religion.

    Lastly, Charles draws a parallel between Brideshead and his younger, happier days. He doesn’t consciously become an adult until the moment he drives away from Brideshead. He narrates: "As I drove away and turned back in the car to take what promised to be my last view of the house, I felt that I was leaving part of myself behind. […] I had left behind me – what? Youth? Adolescence? Romance? The conjuring stuff of these things." This means we can connect Brideshead to another focus of the novel: youth.

    All these connections add up to one big conclusion: Charles isn’t just "revisiting" Brideshead. He’s revisiting everything that Brideshead stands for – his artistic growth, his journey towards Catholicism, his youth, even his romance with Julia. We’re not just talking about a building here.

    The other thing to address in the title is the little addendum, "The Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder." "Profane" isn’t talking about swear words here – it actually means "secular." So the book is devoted both to the sacred (or religious) and the profane (or non-religious). As the title suggests, religion is…complicated in Brideshead Revisited. Waugh supposedly intended the novel to be a portrait of divine grace, but many believe it is pitted against Catholicism. Charles, initially an agnostic and eventually a Catholic, struggles deeply with both the magnetic pull of religion and the desires of his secular life – both the sacred and the profane.

  • What’s Up With the Ending?

    Surprise! Charles is now a Catholic. Did you notice? If not, don’t worry, because we only get two small clues that Charles has converted by the time he’s in the army in the 1940s. The first hint actually comes in the prologue, when an army man named Hooper tells Charles of their new lodgings at Brideshead: "There's a sort of R.C. church attached. I looked in and there was a kind of service going on – just a padre and one old man. I felt very awkward. More in your line than mine." "R.C." means "Roman Catholic," and Hooper’s comment that it’s "more in [Charles’s] line than [his]" is the clue we’re talking about. (We know, it’s subtle, but it’s there.) The second comes in the epilogue, and is part of this big ending we’re trying to talk about here. Charles enters the chapel and "sa[ys] a prayer, an ancient, newly learned form of words." The "newly learned" bit is our second clue and confirms that Charles has in fact recently converted. This is the twitch upon the thread we’ve been waiting for. We know that Charles was raised in religion ("I was taken to church weekly as a child" he earlier confessed), so his newfound Catholicism is actually a return to God.

    Despite appearances, this conversion doesn’t come out of the clear blue sky. It has its roots in Lord Marchmain’s death scene, when Charles watches the old man and "suddenly [feels] the longing for a sign, if only of courtesy, if only for the sake of the woman [he] love[s], who [kneels] […] praying […] for a sign." To Charles, "it seem[s] so small a thing that was asked, the bare acknowledgment of a present, a nod in the crowd." This is where Charles first drops his anti-religion stance and begins to suspect the presence of a God.

    It’s also the first place where this odd "actors in a universal tragedy" motif comes up. Charles comments that "all over the world people were on their knees before innumerable crosses, and here the drama was being played again by two men – by one man, rather, and he nearer death than life; the universal drama in which there is only one actor."

    Fortunately for you, this leads right into the last big important passage in Brideshead Revisited, at the heart of the novel’s conclusion:

    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.

    The flame to which Charles refers is the candle that is kept lit at the tabernacle on Catholic altars. In the Catholic tradition, the bread and wine consumed during mass represent the body and blood of Christ. This bread is kept in a special place on the altar and always accompanied by a burning flame signifying the presence of Christ. Charles finds solace in this ever-presence and walks away from the chapel newly buoyed by his visit.

    Remember when we talked in "The Book" about Brideshead’s stance on religion? Some believe that the novel negatively portrays Catholicism, while others are convinced that the novel shows how everyone – even an agnostic like Charles – finds his way to the grace of God. And remember how in Charles’s "Character Analysis" we talk about the way that Charles makes art his own secular religion? Right, well those who think that Brideshead is pro-Catholicism argue that Charles’s attempt to substitute art for God was wrong and in fact impossible. He comes to learn the error of his ways, leaves art behind, and instead becomes a Catholic. That’s why in this passage he is so rejuvenated by the presence of Christ at the altar.

    Sounds reasonable, right? Sure, but take a look at that long final passage one more time. Notice anything? "…a beaten-copper lamp of deplorable design…" Wait a minute…is Charles talking about art here? Why yes, yes he is. In fact, he’s talking about the ugly modern art he sees in the chapel at Brideshead. Remember that a big part of Charles’s aesthetic education was leaving behind the modern art he first embraced in his young days at Oxford and concluding that it was "bosh" later in his narrative. He might be a Catholic by the end of the novel, but he is definitely still an artist.

    What does this mean? If Charles tried to replace God with art, doesn’t he have to give up art to truly embrace God? One possible answer is this: Charles doesn’t reject art in favor of God; he finds God through art. Go back to that passage we talk about in Charles’s "Character Analysis," when he says of his painting, "I had felt the brush take life in my hand that afternoon; I had had my finger in the great, succulent pie of creation." That’s not blasphemy – that’s divine inspiration! Charles experiences God through his work. He may have given up his profession, but he hasn’t at all given up the strongest connection he has to God: beauty.

  • Setting

    England, from 1922 to the early 1940s

    The prologue and epilogue of Brideshead Revisited take place during the early 1940s, in the midst of WWII. Charles’s flashback – the main narrative comprising the novel – goes back to the 1920s and takes the reader forward through the following two decades. Brideshead Castle and the surrounding estate is of course at the center of the novel’s setting, as it comes to represent all the novel’s major themes and is of course the trigger for Charles’s recollection. But you can read all about that in "What’s Up With the Title?"

  • What’s Up With the Epigraph?

    "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.

  • Writing Style

    Lush, Lovely, and Full of Enough Semi-Colons and Well-Placed Metaphors to Last You a Lifetime

    Brideshead is written with rich, evocative language perfectly suited to the nostalgic nature of Charles’s recollections. If you get down to the level of the nitty-gritty, you’ll notice that Waugh is no stranger to the semi-colon either – we even found an article devoted entirely to his use of this particular punctuation mark (see "Links"). But the artistic device which most captures our hearts in Brideshead Revisited is the metaphor. (Or simile, you nit-picker you.) There was….this one:

    She told me later that she had made a kind of note of me in her mind, as, scanning the shelf for a particular book, one will sometimes have one's attention caught by another, take it down, glance at the title page and, saying "I must read that, too, when I've the time," replace it and continue the search. (1.7.1)

    And of course…this little one right here:

    His constant, despairing prayer was to be let alone. By the blue waters and rustling palm of his own mind he was happy and harmless as a Polynesian; only when the big ship dropped anchor beyond the coral reef, and the cutter beached in the lagoon, and, up the golden slope that had never known the print of a boot there trod the grim invasion of trader, administrator, missionary and tourist – only then was it time to disinter the archaic weapons of the tribe and sound the drums in the hills; or, more easily, to turn from the sunlit door and lie alone in the darkness, where the impotent, painted deities paraded the walls in vain, and cough his heart out among the rum bottles. (1.5.205)

    And it doesn’t get much better than that.

  • Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory

    The "Et in Arcadia Ego" Skull

    We’re referring to the slightly morbid dorm-room décor which Charles has lying around early in Book One. We might have missed it altogether if Waugh hadn’t rather pointedly entitled Book One "Et in Arcadia Ego" and told us to look closer.

    The phrase is Latin and literally translates to, "And in Arcadia I am." (The "to be" verb is implied.) But it is most often translated to reflect its meaning and not just its words, in which case it reads, "Even in Arcadia I exist." ("Arcadia" is another word for a pastoral paradise.) The quote is famous as the title of this painting, but Waugh likely had this painting in mind instead. There are different ways to interpret the line. It could be that a dead person is speaking it – "even in Arcadia I existed," as in, "even though I’m dead now, I used to live happily in a paradise of green grasses and such," or it could be that death is speaking it, as in, "I’m around threatening to end your life even when you’re in paradise."

    This second one sure makes for an ominous reading of Book One of Brideshead Revisited. Charles is in Arcadia, but the threat of death (and the very tumultuous Book Two) is ever-present. Of course, considering that we get hints of Sebastian’s depression and straight-up prophecies of his impending alcoholism every third page doesn’t exactly help either. On the other hand, the first interpretation fits nicely with the image of Charles the narrator, now essentially ‘dead’ since he is loveless, childless, middle-aged, etc., looking back on the Arcadia in which he once existed.

    The word "Arcadia" also has a religious connotation, which sadly we cannot ignore when talking about anything in Brideshead Revisited. Charles says that he "believed [him]self very near heaven during those languid days at Brideshead," so here is yet a third interpretation of the phrase, this time viewing "Arcadia" as a very specific paradise: heaven. Remember how we talked in "Character Analysis" about Charles using art to replace religion? Right, well here he is using youth to replace the Catholic concept of heaven. Lends a little support to that title addendum "the Sacred and Profane Memories," doesn’t it?

    The Crock of Gold

    Another place to see this paradise/death dichotomy is in two passages from Book One. The first happens at the very start of Charles’s flashback, when Sebastian says while picnicking, "[This is] Just the place to bury a crock of gold. […] 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." Later, when Charles leaves Brideshead behind having "disappointed" Lady Marchmain by supplying her alcoholic son booze, he remarks: "As I drove away and turned back in the car to take what promised to be my last view of the house, I felt that I was leaving part of myself behind, and that wherever I went afterwards I should feel the lack of it, and search for it hopelessly, as ghosts are said to do, frequenting the spots where they buried material treasures without which they cannot pay their way to the nether world." This is quite a twist on Sebastian’s original meaning. The "crock of gold" was initially a part of the beautiful Arcadian landscape of Charles’s youth. But then it is the gold used to pay passage to the underworld. It’s a lot like the image of a skull in the midst of a pastoral paradise. Oh, wait…

    "That Low Door in the Wall"

    Before his first luncheon with Sebastian (a peace offering after the puking incident), Charles pauses to consider whether or not he should go. He was uncertain, he says, "for it was foreign ground and there was a tiny, priggish, warning voice in my ear which […] told me it was seemly to hold back." But look at his eventual reasoning for attending:

    But I was in search of love in those days, and I went full of curiosity and the faint, unrecognized apprehension that here, at last, I should find that low door in the wall, which others, I knew, had found before me, which opened on an enclosed and enchanted garden, which was somewhere, not overlooked by any window, in the heart of that grey city.

    Enchanted garden…sounds a bit like "Arcadia," doesn’t it? Charles certainly gets what he was looking for when he dives headfirst into this friendship with Sebastian. As we talk about in "Character Analysis," Sebastian truly does open up a whole new world for Charles – a world of youth, care-free days, wine, and, most importantly, of art and beauty.

    But much later, when Sebastian has become an alcoholic and Lady Marchmain is angry with Charles for supplying him booze, Charles drives away from Brideshead for what he thinks will be the last time and remarks, "A door had shut, the low door in the wall I had sought and found in Oxford; open it now and I should find no enchanted garden." This is more of that paradise/death stuff we’ve talked so much about in regards to the phrase "Et in Arcadia Ego." That ever-present skull tainting the perfect pastoral landscape has brought to an end those "heavenly days at Brideshead."

    The Twitch Upon the Thread

    This is the title of Book Two and also a phrase we hear twice inside the text. The first occurrence comes at the end of Book One, when Charles is out to dinner with Cordelia at the Ritz:

    "D'you know what Papa said when he became a Catholic? […] He said […]: 'You have brought back my family to the faith of their ancestors.' […] The family haven't been very constant [in regards to religion], have they? There's him gone and Sebastian gone and Julia gone. But God won't let them go for long, you know. I wonder if you remember the story Mummy read us the evening Sebastian first got drunk – I mean the bad evening. Father Brown said something like 'I caught him' (the thief) 'with an unseen hook and an invisible line which is long enough to let him wander to the ends of the world and still to bring him back with a twitch upon the thread.'"

    Cordelia paints the image of God with essentially a fishing line tied to every Catholic. A given Catholic – like Julia, for example – might wander away from God, but God can pull on the thread (or give it a "twitch" in this case) and yank him right back at any time.

    As the titles of Book One and Two of Brideshead suggest, Book One is the wandering away part and Book Two is when everyone gets yanked bank by the twitch. Sebastian wandered all the way to Northern Africa, but ended up where? At a monastery. Julia abandoned God and the sanctity of her marriage, but returns to her faith at the end of the novel. Lord Marchmain was never much for religion, but accepts the Last Sacrament on his death bed. Notice what Charles says when Lord Marchmain refuses the priest for the first time: "I felt triumphant. I had been right, everyone else had been wrong, truth had prevailed; the thread that I had felt hanging over Julia and me ever since that evening at the fountain had been averted, perhaps dispelled for ever." And notice Julia’s very reason for breaking up with Charles is right in line with Cordelia’s thread metaphor: "The worse I am, the more I need God," she says. "I can't shut myself out from His mercy."

    Most surprising of all is the twitch upon the thread which brings Charles to Catholicism. But we talk about that in "What’s Up With the Ending?"

  • Narrator Point of View

    First Person (Central Narrator)

    Charles Ryder narrates two decades of his own memories over the course of Brideshead Revisited. We’re allowed into the thoughts of the twenty-something Charles he recalls as well as the reflections of the forty-something man he is when the novel begins. In fact, it’s sometimes hard to tell where one begins and the other ends. Charles admits that he’s tempted to imbue his younger self with qualities and maturities he didn’t actually have. He also openly admits to the unreliability of his memory. But, in a way, we actually trust Charles more on account of his openness. He’s not trying to manipulate the reader at all; if anything, he is himself a victim of memory’s manipulation.

    • Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

      Anticipation Stage and ‘Fall’ into the Other World

      Charles seeks a "low door in the wall" as an entrance to an "enchanted garden." Then he meets Sebastian.

      The ‘other world’ here is a metaphorical one, and consists largely of Sebastian’s appreciation for beauty. It all begins with the trip to the botanical gardens. Of course, Brideshead Castle plays a large role in constituting this ‘other world’ as well.

      Initial Fascination or Dream Stage

      Charles is captivated by Sebastian, his eccentricities, and the world he lives in, particularly Brideshead.

      As a burgeoning artist, it makes sense that Charles would be so taken in by the splendor of Brideshead Castle. He spends pages describing its design, architecture, and furnishings.

      Frustration Stage

      Lady Marchmain’s machinations, Sebastian’s drinking, Samgrass’s general existence

      The perfect world starts to crumble when Charles realizes the extent to which religion and family torment Sebastian. He chooses to side with his friend, which means making a temporary enemy of Lady Marchmain. Samgrass frustrates matters further, especially since he imposes restrictions for the boys even at Oxford.

      Nightmare Stage

      Charles is carrying on an affair with Julia and may be cheating Bridey out of his rightful inheritance.

      Charles has become a part of the world of Brideshead Castle, but it isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. He senses a darker side to himself correlating to what he discovered as the darker element of this ‘other world.’

      Thrilling Escape and Return

      After Julia breaks up with Charles, he converts to Catholicism and joins the army.

      Charles ‘escapes’ the world of Brideshead and returns to reality, leaving the Flyte family behind him completely. The interpretation of this conclusion as an ‘escape’ is certainly subject to debate, since he was really more evicted than anything else. It’s also subject to debate whether or not leaving was a positive thing for Charles, or an unhappy bit of tragedy.

    • Plot Analysis

      Initial Situation

      Sebastian pukes into Charles’s first floor window.

      This is the start of a beautiful friendship. Sebastian’s eccentricities captivate Charles’s attention and draw him into the "enchanted garden" he so hoped to find at Oxford.

      Conflict

      Sebastian’s family, religion, the danger of "charm"

      Anthony Blanche’s long lecture to Charles over dinner sets us up for all the novel’s greatest conflicts. He calls Julia a "heathen," points out that Sebastian is essentially just an insipid bore, warns Charles of the entire Flyte family but particularly Lady Marchmain, and draws our attention to what he considers the greatest threat to Charles’s artistry: charm.

      Complication

      Sebastian’s alcoholism, Samgrass, Julia and Charles’s love

      Sebastian’s attempt to solve the conflict (his family, his religion) by drinking only makes things worse. He grows more and more depressed as he sinks deeper into self-imposed isolation. On top of that, he and Charles both have to deal with Samgrass, a.k.a. The Most Annoying Family Friend Ever. And that’s all before Charles falls in love with Julia – despite each of their marriages to another.

      Climax

      The Big Twitch Upon the Thread

      After several months of anticipatory death-bed action, Lord Marchmain finally returns to Catholicism, moments before he dies. This is the event that spurs Charles’s own later conversion.

      Suspense

      The Big Twitch Upon the Thread

      Charles’s foreshadowing metaphor of the ice fisher minutes away from a devastating avalanche is a good clue that something’s up with Julia and his relationship. It’s only a matter of time before the situation comes to a head. We’re also wondering who is going to end up living at Brideshead, since Lord Marchmain has promised it to Charles and Julia, but we know but we know from the prologue that this isn’t the end result.

      Denouement

      Julia breaks it off with Charles; Charles gets final updates on everyone’s life from Nanny in the epilogue

      You can definitely feel the novel winding down even as Julia ends her affair with Charles. (And not just because you notice you’re twenty pages from the end, either.) When Charles hears the latest news from Nanny Hawkins, it’s classic denouement territory, as information is revealed and any lingering questions answered.

      Conclusion

      Charles visits the chapel at Brideshead

      Amazingly, Charles has found faith and become a Catholic in between the end of his narrative and the start of the epilogue. The novel’s conclusion is surprisingly optimistic, and you can read all about it in "What’s Up With the Ending?"

    • Three Act Plot Analysis

      Act I

      Charles meets Sebastian and makes several trips to Brideshead, where he is captivated by the estate and drawn into the Flyte family and all the baggage that goes with them.

      Act II

      Sebastian becomes an alcoholic, Julia’s marriage to Rex is on the rocks, Charles hates his wife, his paintings are easy and boring, and Lady Marchmain has died without reconciling with her son. The affair between Charles and Julia begins.

      Act III

      Charles and Julia eventually break up, Lord Marchmain dies, and Cordelia predicts Sebastian’s death.

    • Allusions

      Literature and Philosophy

      William Shakespeare, Henry IV ("Henry’s speech on St. Crispin’s day") (prologue.31)
      Edward Marsh (editor), Georgian Poetry (1.1.27)
      Compton Mackenzie, Sinister Street (1.1.27)
      Norman Douglas, South Wind (1.1.27)
      Gilbert and Sullivan (1.1.2)
      Alfred Edward Housman, A Shropshire Lad: Eminent Victorians (1.1.27)
      T.S. Eliot, The Wasteland (1.1.62-5)
      Alfred Lord Tennyson, The Princess (1.1.66)
      Pindar, Orphism (1.2.1, 1.2.21)
      Marcel Proust (1.2.25)
      André Gide (1.2.25)
      Jean Cocteau (1.2.25)
      Ronald Firbank (1.2.25)
      Antic Hay, by Aldous Huxley (1.2.29)
      Maurice Maeterlinck, a Belgian symbolist playwright (1.2.45)
      Bernard Shaw, Plays Unpleasant (1.2.56)
      David Garnett, Lady into Fox (1.2.58)
      George Byron (1.4.221)
      Trilby, by George du Maurier (1.5.21)
      Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1.5.194)
      Marcel Proust, À la recherche du temps perdu (The character referenced is Baron Palamède de Charlus, a gay man not open about his sexuality.) (1.5.194)
      Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland (1.5.204)
      G.K. Chesteron, The Wisdom of Father Brown (1.5.270)
      George Grossmith, The Diary of a Nobody (1.6.70, 1.6.198)
      J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan ("Tinkerbell" is the name of the horse Sebastian takes on the hunt) (1.6.67)
      Robert Browning, an English poet (1.8.209)
      William Shakespeare, King Lear (2.1.226)
      John Webster, The Duchess of Malfi (2.1.226)
      Anton Chekhov (2.1.340)
      Jane Austen (2.2.62)
      Mary Russell Mitford, an English novelist (2.2.62)
      Arthur Rimbaud, a French poet (2.2.63)
      William Shakespeare, Macbeth (2.3.55)

      Mythological References

      Xanthus, the river near Troy (prologue.31)
      King Arthur (prologue.31)
      Demosthenes (1.1.25)
      Narcissus (1.2.38)
      Penelope (Odysseus’s wife in Greek Mythology) (1.7.16)
      Aladdin (2.5.50, 175)

      Art References

      William Morris (1.1.27)
      The Earl of Arundel, the first great British art collector, during the early 17th century (1.1.27)
      Van Gogh, Sunflowers (1.1.27)
      Roger Fry, an art critic (1.1.27, 1.4.21)
      Edward McKnight Kauffer, an American designer while Charles was at Oxford
      Roger Fry’s Vision and Design (1.1.27)
      Cezanne (1.1.29)
      Sir Edwin Landseer (1.1.29)
      Clive Bell’s Art (1.1.29)
      William Hogarth, a 16th Century British painter ("Hogarthian page boy") (1.2.25)
      Sergei Diaghilev (1.2.25)
      Constantin Brancusi, pioneered modern abstract sculpture (1.2.33)
      Jean Ingres, a French painter (1.2.40)
      Sir John Everett Millais, "Bubbles" (1.2.47)
      Inigo Jones, an English architect (1.4.5, 1.4.9)
      Sir John Soane, an English architect (1.4.13)
      Thomas Chippendale, a very famous furniture designer (1.4.13)
      Giovanni Piranesi, an Italian architect (1.4.15)
      John Ruskin, an art critic (1.4.21)
      Jacopo Robusti, a.k.a. "Tintoretto," a Venetian painter. (1.4.178)
      Augustus John, a painter of portraits. (1.5.36)
      Piabia Francis Picabia, an artist of the French avant-garde (1.6.32)
      Eugène Delacroix, a French Romanticist painter (1.6.32)
      La Gioconda, another title for the Mona Lisa (2.1.131)
      Paul Gauguin, a post-impressionist painter (2.2.63)
      Titian, a painter of the Italian Renaissance (2.5.108)
      Raphael, a painter/architect of the Italian Renaissance (2.5.108)

      Culture

      Isis magazine, the student mag at Oxford (1.1.2, 1.5.9)
      Polly Peachum, a leading opera lady (1.1.27)
      Honoré Daumier, a French caricaturist (1.1.54)
      George du Maurier, "Mrs. Ponsonby de Tomkyns" – a fictional cartoon character (1.2.37)
      Punch – a weekly satirical magazine in England (no longer in publication) (1.2.37)
      Madame Récamier (1777-1849), an early 19th century French socialite (1.2.45)
      Lionel Tennyson, a cricket player and grandson to the great poet (1.4.44)
      The Times of London (1.4.44, 1.6.201, 1.7.154, 1.8.196, 2.5.104)
      News of the World – A British tabloid (1.4.58)
      "Max" refers to William Maxwell Aitken, an influential man in politics and society. (1.5.36)
      "F.E." refers to F.E. Smith, the Earl of Birkenhead and a statesman (1.5.36)
      "Gertie" Lawrence refers to Gertrude Lawrence, an actor/singer (1.5.36)
      Georges Carpentier, a French boxer (1.5.36)
      The Star, a former London newspaper (1.5.158)
      Vogue (1.6.32)
      Continental Daily Mail, a conservative London newspaper (1.6.300)
      The Morning Post (1.7.154)
      The Blackbirds of 1926, a jazz revue (1.8.10)
      Warning Shadows, a German silent movie from 1923 (1.8.25)
      Florence Mills, a singer from the jazz age (1.8.28, 37)
      The Tatler (2.1.97)
      Captain Foulenough, a fictional character from By the Way, a long-running series in the Daily Express of London (2.1.205-211)
      Popeye (2.1.211)
      Wallis Warfield Simpson (2.2.35)
      The Tatler (2.2.43)

      Military and Political History

      Adolf Hitler (prologue.5)
      Prince Rupert of the Rhine (prologue.31)
      "The Epitaph at Thermopylae" – this epitaph reads: "Stranger, announce to the Spartans that we here lie dead, obedient to their words." (prologue.31)
      Bartolomeo Colleoni, general of the Venetian state in the 15th century. (1.4.221)
      The Prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII (1.5.36)
      Mustapha Kemal Atatürk, founder of the Republic of Turkey (1.6.5)
      Miklós Horthy, the Regent of Hungary during World War II (1.8.9)
      Abdul Krim, a political revolutionary in Morocco in the 1920s (1.8.83)

      Religion

      John Henry Cardinal Newman (1.1.2)
      St. Nichodemus of Thyatira (1.2.16)
      Sodom and Gomorrah – two sinful cities destroyed by God (1.2.45)
      Saint Augustine of Hippo, Confessions – Sebastian quotes this modified line: "God, make me good – but not yet" (1.4.56)
      St. Anthony of Padua (1.4.68)
      Saint Francis Xavier, a 16th Century missionary (Cordelia’s pig takes this name) (1.4.96)
      Jacques Maritain, a Catholic philosopher. (1.5.194)
      The Madonna (1.5.201)
      St. Joseph (1.5.201)
      Father Brown, "The Queer Feet" – The quotation which refers to a "twitch upon the thread" comes from this story. (1.8.194)
      Gethsemane (2.5.52)
      "Quomodo sedet sola civitas" (1.8.192, 2.1.101, epilogue.55)
      "Vanity of vanities, all is vanity," from the Book of Ecclesiastes (epilogue.55)

      Historical Figures

      Sigmund Freud (1.1.33)Galileo Galilei (1.8.209)