Thursday, December 4, 2008

The real missing text in Brideshead Revisited

More so than whether the two boys were … or what they did … or whether they did, I would have liked to have read about Sebastian's tutorials—what they were like: did he bring Aloysius with him, did he and Aloysius talk about how tiresome their tutor became when he "pressed" a point, how Sebastian (with or without teddy) might have fared against the likes of Butley (to mix ages and genres) and so forth. Waugh could have stolen a march on Kingsley Amis and given us a lead into the academic novel. More realistically, perhaps, I do regret Waugh's not having given us that scene when Charles forbade Sebastian his rooms at the end of their first summer term so that he might stay up late, cramming himself with neglected texts, in order to pass his first schools. I miss it (and conceivably Waugh didn't write it) because I can't imagine it, there's no other conversation that Waugh presents that gives me an ear for it. By contrast, what don't we see of Falstaff? Well, supposedly Falstaff in love (as Her Majesty is reported to have said). If King George had been more of a reader, we might have had The Merry Laddies of Oxenford.

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