04 December 2012

Wine & Hope

I rejoiced in the Burgundy. How can I describe it? The Pathetic Fallacy resounds in all our praise of wine. For centuries every language has been strained to define its beauty, and has produced only wild conceits or the stock epithets of the trade. This Burgundy seemed to me, then, serene and triumphant, 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 and, that day, as at Paillard’s with Rex Mottram years before, it whispered faintly, but in the same lapidary phrase, the same words of hope.

Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited (1945)


Anonymous said...

I trust that you will forgive my friend. The wines were too various. It was neither the quality nor the quantity that was at fault - it was the mixture. Grasp that and you have the very root of the matter. To understand all is to forgive all.

DEK said...

Yes, of course: the mixture of the wines. I think those lines were my first alert that Brideshead was something special. And can you imagine an undergraduate plausibly saying such a thing today, whatever his school? Even in Waugh’s time this was a lost world he was taking us to.
My wife and I watch the Jeremy Irons version every New Year’s Day with champagne and runny cheese. There was a new version made recently. I read that the persons in charge said that they intended to leave out all that Catholic stuff. Unsurprisingly, this new version seems to have disappeared without a trace.

Anonymous said...

When I first saw the TV version of Brideshead, I phoned one of my brothers and said, you must see this. Why? You'll hear English spoken as you've never heard it before. How's that? Properly.
DEK, I saw 5-10 minutes of the recent movie. It was unbearably awful.

Anonymous said...

Do I dare even to view the more recent version when the Irons version inhabits such a perfect location in my mind?

Leave out the Catholic aspects? What's the point of the story without it?