Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Waugh vs. Undset

Our high school literature group discussed Waugh's Brideshead Revisited the other night, as Love2Learn Mom reported. I find the book, and Waugh in general very tedious. I am too much a dinosaur, I suppose. I just find myself completely out of sympathy with the whole disillusionment environment of the upper class English in the time of the decline of the Empire. I just want to say to the spoiled brats, "Go do something worthwhile!" There is enough disillusionment in real life for me to want to read more about it. I know, you can argue that the message is actually one of hope in the face of the experience of disillusionment, and I'll buy that, but what my soul needs is a belief in the possibility of real heroism, purpose, direction in this life. That is why I am so glad that the next book we are reading is Undset's Kristen Lavransdatter. I've already read the first chapter of the first volume and I feel like I'm breathing fresh air again after the stale air in Waugh's world. Lavrans is someone I'd like to emulate both as a man and as a father. There is no one in Brideshead I'd want to emulate.

That is why I am such an admirer of Servant of God John Paul II. He was able to live a truly heroic, manly life in the very 20th century that Waugh was writing about. (I'm not canonizing his every decision or action, by the way. I am pretty disappointed about his apparent inability to confront the crisis in the Legionaries of Christ head on). Lavrans wasn't perfect, either. It does say in the intro of the new translation that Undset patterned Lavrans after her father.


Love2Learn Mom said...

Interesting - I suppose it depends partly on what sort of thing you tend to get out of literature. So far (I've only read Kristen once) I've enjoyed Brideshead a lot more. I enjoy the Waugh because I'm always curious about what makes people tick (especially in the context of the faith) and there's so much to unravel there.

Robert Gotcher said...

I'm more of a sinner than a hero, so I'd rather read more about heros than sinners.