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Brideshead connexion

Anthony Andrews and Jeremy Irons, who played Sebastian Flyte and Charles Ryder in Granada TVs 4.5m lavish production of Brideshead Revisited.

Anthony Andrews and Jeremy Irons, who played Sebastian Flyte and Charles Ryder in Granada TVs 4.5m lavish production of Brideshead Revisited.

It would seem that the final version of Evelyn Waugh’s novel Brideshead Revisited first saw the light of day in our own Bohemia. At the time, 1944, Waugh was using Alex McLachlan of St Peter’s Road as his typist. Hastings Library confirms that Kelly’s Directory for 1940 shows McLachlan as living at number 34 and he appears on the 1945 voters’ list, but by 1948 only Mrs McLachlan is shown. Waugh completed the book in June 1944, sending the final section to Mr McLachlan with instructions to change the name of the hero from ‘Charles Fenwick’ to ‘Charles Ryder’ and of the child ‘Bridget’ to ‘Cordelia’.
Brideshead Revisited was first published in 1945. Waugh wrote that the novel “deals with what is theologically termed ‘the operation of Grace’, that is to say, the unmerited and unilateral act of love by which God continually calls souls to Himself”. This is achieved by an examination of the aristocratic Flyte family, as seen by the narrator, Charles Ryder.
Time magazine included Brideshead Revisited in its list of “All-time 100 Novels.” In various letters, Waugh himself refers to the novel a number of times as his “magnum opus”. In 1950 he wrote to Graham Greene saying “I re-read Brideshead and was appalled.” In Waugh’s preface to the 1960 revised edition of Brideshead the author is mildly disparaging of the novel, saying; “It was a bleak period of present privation and threatening disaster – the period of soya beans and Basic English – and in consequence the book is infused with a kind of gluttony, for food and wine, for the splendours of the recent past, and for rhetorical and ornamental language which now, with a full stomach, I find distasteful.”
Brideshead Revisited was brought to the screen in the ITV drama serialisation of 1981, produced by Granada Television. A film adaptation of the book is currently in pre-production, scheduled for release in 2008, which will concentrate solely on the relationship between Charles and Julia.
[Our thanks to Jackie Hayles of St Peter’s Road for bringing Alex McLachlan to our attention]

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