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Revisiting Brideshead

I’ve recently finished re-reading Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh – and re-watching on DVD the 1981 BBC TV series, produced by Granada Television.

Brideshead Revisited is probably Evelyn Waugh’s best-loved novel, first published in 1945.

It’s the epic story of a great Catholic family in a doomed aristocratic age prior to the second world war and over sixty years has delighted many readers – including myself .

In haunting prose it captures the dying years of an era of British aristocracy and opulence, which would never again return after the war. Another major theme, as Waugh says in his preface (1959) to a modified re-issue of the novel, is “the operation of divine grace on a group of diverse but closely connected characters.”

In the book there are many passages of lilting prose – somehow wistful and with a lingering melancholy. And in re-reading, I experienced all over again my initial delight.

Here’s an example … [Read more…]

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The Storyteller

Unshaved, unkempt,
black nails, black teeth
and an old, tattered coat.
You’d dismiss him as derelict
and walk straight past.
Yet when he spoke
eagles soared,
mountains talked
and I glimpsed infinity.
“I’m a storyteller”
he said.
His stories wove spells
of dreaming and meaning.
The universe expanded,
and I felt for a moment
that I touched its limits.
Derelict,
Storyteller,
Spellbinder …
The essence of truth
lies perhaps in all three.

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How Many Times

Through the work Chris and I do, we have the privilege of hearing the stories of people from all kinds of places, spaces and backgrounds.

So often I am humbled by their wisdom, resilience, humour and strength – often under circumstances that could leave them bitter, bowed or defeated. And I feel honoured they have felt able to open their hearts and share their stories with us.

It’s a reminder in this busy, media-saturated world of ours that the most powerful stories are not necessarily those of the rich and famous.

How often do we give our time, our spirits and our hearts to listen – really listen – to the stories of others? Ordinary people, with extraordinary stories.

Here is a song from one of my favourite Aussie singer-songwriters, Judy Small, which asks much the same question.

 

How many times do they tell their tales to strangers,

Who turn away in silence and pretend they didn’t hear.

How many times do we throw away such chances,

Never knowing what we might have learned with open ears.

(From How Many Times, by Judy Small)