Ninety-Nine Novels: Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
In 1984, Anthony Burgess published Ninety-Nine Novels, a selection of his favourite novels in English since 1939. The list is typically idiosyncratic, and shows the breadth of Burgess’s interest in fiction. This podcast, by the International Anthony Burgess Foundation, explores the novels on Burgess’s list with the help of writers, critics and other special guests.
In this episode, Andrew Biswell heads back to the era of the Bright Young Things to examine Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited with writer, academic and editor Barbara Cooke.
Brideshead Revisited is perhaps Evelyn Waugh’s most famous novel. It follows Ryder as he remembers his life, from his undergraduate years at the University of Oxford in the golden age before the Second World War, to his wartime enlistment in the army. His life is coloured by his obsession with the Flytes, an aristocratic Catholic family who live in the stately home of Brideshead. In Ninety-Nine Novels, Burgess writes, ‘I have read Brideshead Revisited at least a dozen times and have never failed to be charmed and moved, even to tears.’
Evelyn Waugh was born in 1903. At the age of 24, he published his first book, a biography of the artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and the following year he published his first novel, Decline and Fall. Sixteen more novels followed, including A Handful of Dust, Scoop and Vile Bodies. His last novels were the Sword of Honour trilogy, which were published in 1965. He died in 1966.
Barbara Cooke is a Senior Lecturer in English at Loughborough University. She is also Co-Executive Editor of the Complete Works of Evelyn Waugh, published by Oxford University Press, a series which brings together all of Waugh’s published and previously unpublished writing with comprehensive introductions, contextual writing and annotations. She is the author of Evelyn Waugh’s Oxford, published by The Bodleian Library, and has recently written the introduction to Penguin’s new edition of Decline and Fall.
Books mentioned in this episode
By Evelyn Waugh:
- Decline and Fall (1928)
- Vile Bodies (1930)
- A Handful of Dust (1934)
- Helena (1950)
- The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold (1957)
- A Little Learning (1957)
- Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (1865)
- Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers (1935)
- I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith (1948)
- Crooked House by Agatha Christie (1949)
- A Grain of Wheat by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o (1967)
- Ruling Passions by Tom Driberg (1977)
- Evelyn Waugh (Two Volumes: The Early Years 1903-1939 and The Later Years 1939-1966) by Martin Stannard (1989-94)
(This list contains affiliate links)
In Series One and Two of Ninety-Nine Novels, we learnt about authors including James Joyce, Thomas Pynchon, Iris Murdoch, Ian Fleming and William Golding, among others. These episodes are available at your favourite place to get podcasts.
You can join the conversation and tell us which 100th book you would add to Burgess’s list by using the hashtag #99Novels on Twitter.
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The theme music for the Ninety-Nine Novels podcast is Anthony Burgess’s Concerto for Flute, Strings and Piano in D Minor, performed by No Dice Collective.