Beyond Sins and Symptoms: Suffering in Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited
Sarah Elizabeth Miller
This project interrogates the ongoing appeal of Evelyn Waugh’s 1945 novel Brideshead Revisited: The Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder as it responds to the nostalgia for the past and the relentless onset of modernity in the wake of World War I. The novel’s enchanting yet tragic protagonist Sebastian Flyte finds himself struggling with alcoholism and is caught in the no-man’s-land between two systems of meaning-making: his pious Catholic mother Lady Marchmain seeks to remedy his condition through religious intervention, while his worldly future brother-in-law Rex Mottram hopes to use psychological treatment to cure him. Sebastian’s trajectory provides a window into the shortcomings of religious and secular approaches to modern suffering. Employing close readings of the novel as well as historical and theological contextualization, I argue that Brideshead Revisited reckons with the failures of religious condemnation and secular diagnosis as ways to understand human frailty. Instead, the novel illustrates the healing power of love that is willing to suffer with the beloved
David J. Fine, Susan L. Trollinger, Thomas A. Wendorf
Primary Advisor's Department
Stander Symposium project, College of Arts and Sciences
"Beyond Sins and Symptoms: Suffering in Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited" (2021). Stander Symposium Projects. 2184.