“…his days in Arcadia were numbered.”
‘I remember the dinner well - soup of oseille, a sole quite simply cooked in a white wine sauce, a caneton a la presse, a lemon souffle. At the last minute, fearing that the whole thing was too simple for Rex, I added caviar aux blinis. And for the wine I let him give me a bottle of 1906 Montrachet, then at its prime, and with the duck, a clos de beze of 1904…
The cream and hot butter mingled and overflowed, separating each glaucous bead of caviar from its fellows, capping it in white and gold… The soup was delicious after the rich blinis, hot, thin, bitter, frothy.
‘We ate to the music of the press - the crunch of the bones, the drip of the blood and marrow, the tap of the spoon basting the thin slices of breast.’
‘I rejoiced in the Burgundy. It seemed a reminder that the world was an older and better place than Rex knew, that mankind in its long passion had learned another wisdom than his. By chance I met this same wine again, lunching with my wine merchant in St James’s Street in the first Autumn of the war; it had softened and faded in the intervening years, but it still spoke in the pure, authentic accent of its prime, the same words of hope.’
From Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh. The book was written during the Second World War, at a time of rationing and great shortage, and Waugh later observed, with a little distaste, that as a consequence that it is laced with a ‘kind of gluttony’
Personally I wouldn’t have it any other way! The book’s excesses are a big part of its charm and this section has always stuck in my mind. Along with the book, the film and TV adaptations, I also have the unabridged audiobook read by Jeremy Irons and often listen to it falling asleep. No matter if I go to bed full, hearing this passage while half asleep is guaranteed to make me hungry again!
George Orwell said that Evelyn Waugh was about as good a novelist as one could be while holding untenable opinions and that last paragraph about the wine pretty much epitomises this for me; it’s a perfect example of the sort of romanticised conservatism that pervades the book, the contempt for the ‘modern world’ that all too often translates into hideous snobbery, but it’s just so perfectly written, every time I find myself drinking in every word, a literary glutton in every sense of the term…
(The image of the duck dish is ‘borrowed’ from a blog called Jet City Gastrophysics, in an excellent post about recreating the recipe.)
Sometimes I forget that Cordelia has a pig named St. Francis Xavier. Upon remembering, I am instantly happy.
Neat, adorable(?) picture of Simon as Bridey in Brideshead Revisited(1981)
Ah, Simon’s role is in the title!
Bridey is one of the characters Simon performed perfectly well.
Ingredients(?) of Bridey : Dr. Sheldon Cooper in The Big Bang Theory, the ‘big brother’ responsibility, etc.
“Et in Arcadia Ego”
“Even in Arcadia I.” Even in Arcadia I am there, or under the shadow of death I am in merriment. Memento Mori. Remember your mortality ya’ll.
Remember this phrase from Brideshead? Well, now,we all know what it actually means! (Because I for one DID NOT) Don’t get me started about how understanding this phrase deepens the whole meaning of the book…
And yes, I got half of this information from the fact that I take Latin, but i also may have looked a tiny bit at wikipedia. I don’t care what anyone says, I love wikipedia.
Do you remember when Anthony Blanch is threatened to be put in the “Mercury” fountain by those Bullingdon boys? Well here they are, in all their glory. Common activities the incredibly exclusive Bullingdon club members partake in is drunken revelry and trashing restaurants. Twice, in 1894 and again in 1927, Bullingdon club members smashed all 468 windows of the Peckwater Quad of Christ Church after a night of drinking. Former members include David Cameron, Boris Johnson, Prince Edward VIII (later banned from participating by his mum Queen Mary), and George Osborne.
After several attempts I still haven’t made it past the first episode of 1981 Brideshead Revisited. The novel was easier though, if you’re looking for nice reading for the summer.
Photos from Castle Howard, Yorkshire. Exterior location for TV and film versions of Brideshead Revisited.
It is time for bed, but since gnossienne mentioned Brideshead, I thought I would do a quick rendition of Sebastian and Aloysius. Miles Malpractice to come tomorrow!
“Oddly enough, I’ve just been talking about Brideshead to a funny little man who seemed to know us very well. He said he was called Mr. Samgrass. Apparently he’s one of Lord Copper’s middle-aged young men on the Daily Beast. I tried to feed him some paragraphs, but he seemed to know more about you than I do. He said he’d met me years ago at Brideshead. I wish Julia had come in; then he could have asked her about him.”
Celia to Charles at the art show, p. 248 in my edition.
Evelyn Waugh (via misswallflower)
Not Evelyn Waugh. I repeat: not Evelyn Waugh. The 2008 ‘Brideshead’ movie, yes, but not Evelyn Waugh.
Taken by me