Arcadia was a region of the Peloponnese in Ancient Greece, the home of simple herdsmen who worshipped the god Pan and sang to the accompaniment of pipe music. Over time, various poets (including Virgil in his 'Bucolics') began to depict Arcadia as a rural paradise inhabited by idealized shepherds, a theme which was repeated in many versions of pastoral poetry.
'Et in Arcadia Ego' is the title of two paintings by Nicolas Poussin (1594-1665). In the later of the two paintings (also known as 'The Arcadian Shepherds'), shepherds are gathered around a tomb on which the Latin words are inscribed. They may be translated as, 'And I too am in Arcadia' (where 'I' is the personification of death) or as 'I also used to live in Arcadia' (where 'I' refers to the person in the tomb). Either way, the words may be taken to imply that 'in the midst of life we are in death'*, and the painting may be seen as an example of memento mori, works of art designed to remind us of our mortality.
Later in Brideshead Revisited, we learn that Charles Ryder has a memento mori, namely a skull with Et in Arcadia ego inscribed on its forehead. The quotation is particularly relevant to the theme of 'Book One' in that the characters do find an 'earthly paradise', but one whose duration is short-lived.
* Words of the burial service in the Book of Common Prayer.
Listen on Spotify:
and a musical memento mori... Danse Macabre by Saint-Saens
Meadowsweet (Filpendula ulmaria or Spiraea ulmaria), also known as bridewort, queen of the meadow and meadwort, is a perennial plant with creamy white flowers.
The plant contains salicylates (the compounds used in the manufacture of aspirin) and is a well-known herbal remedy.
Eights Week is an Oxford University rowing and social tradition dating back to the early 19th century. It takes place in the 5th week of the Trinity (summer) Term, in late May or early June, and lasts for four days.
Eights Week features what are known as "bumps" races between 8-person rowing crews ("eights") from different colleges. The eights have staggered starts, as the Isis (that part of the River Thames on which the races take place) is not wide enough for boats to row side by side. The goal is to "bump" the boat ahead, either literally (sometimes involving significant damage) or by persuading the cox ahead to concede. The following day, the starting order for the two crews involved in a bump is reversed. A crew that bumps on all four days of Eights Week wins "blades", meaning that each crew member is awarded an inscribed oar and their names are chalked up in their college quads.
Lyonness, usually written Lyonesse,is the name given to a mythical land that once bordered Cornwall before being submerged beneath the sea. The Isles of Scilly are sometimes said to be the last remnant of it.
It is thought to be the native land of Tristan, the knight in the story of Tristan and Iseult. However two other places, Leoneis (Lothian, in Scotland) and Leonois (in the Saint-Pol-de-Léon area of Brittany), are also linked to the name Lyonesse, and it may be that Tristan came from one of these.
In Tennyson's poem Morte D'Arthur, King Arthur's final battle is set in Lyonness, the spelling of which matches Waugh's in Brideshead Revisited.
So all day long the noise of battle roll'd
Among the mountains by the winter sea;
Until King Arthur's table, man by man,
Had fall'n in Lyonness about their Lord.
Cardinal John Henry Newman (1801-1890) was a Roman Catholic priest, poet and writer on theology.
His works include The Dream of Gerontius (1865) and Apologia Pro Vita Sua (1866), an autobiography whose title may be translated roughly as A Justification of One's Life.
Newman was something of a controversial figure, having left the Anglican Church in 1845 to join the Roman Catholic Church. This aspect of his life may have been of particular interest to Evelyn Waugh, who was himself received into the Catholic Church in 1930.
Claret Cup is an iced drink made with claret (red Burgundy) and a range of other ingredients which may include soda water, brandy, sherry, curaçao, maraschino, fruit juices, sugar, cucumber and fruit.
It was a popular drink during Victorian times, and there are two references to it in the Rev. Francis Kilvert's diary* entry for July 12th. 1870, where he notes the following:
A crowd in the drawing room drinking claret cup iced and eating enormous strawberries;
High tea at 7.30 ... More than 40 people sat down. Plenty of iced claret cup, and unlimited fruit ...
Recipe for Claret Cup (Mrs. Beeton 1831).
*The Rev. Francis Kilvert, Kilvert's Diary 1870-1879 (Jonanthan Cape, 1964).
The Isis is the name given to the River Thames as it flows through Oxford, above Iffley Lock;
The River Cherwell, which rises in the Midlands, is a tributary of the Thames and joins the larger river at Oxford (as marked on the map).
Commem. is an abbreviation of Commemoration, and refers to the Commemoration balls at Oxford University.
These are formal balls held during the 9th week of Trinity (Summer) term. As Oxford terms are eight weeks long, this means they take place one week after the ending of the academic year.
Commemoration Week was set up to honour and remember the benefactors of the university.
Each major college will host a commem. ball once every three years. Smaller balls are held, often on an annual basis, at other colleges.
Charvet is an up-market tailoring firm, founded in 1838, with headquarters in the Place Vendôme, Paris.
Originally, the firm specialised in the production of shirts, but its range was extended to include suits, ties and pyjamas, both made-to-measure and ready-to-wear.
In the late 1920s, influenced by the Art Deco trends of the time, the firm produced a range of boldly-patterned, colourful ties, which were particularly popular in America.
Both produce sweet wines of the Sauternes appellation. Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey was already established as a top-quality wine by 1855, whilst production of the equally admired Château Clos Haut-Peyraguey began after 1879, when a family quarrel led to the original business splitting into two branches.
Either of these wines could, therefore, have been available to Sebastian Flyte in 1920s Oxford.
Morris-Cowley was the name given to various styles of car produced by the company between 1915 and 1958.
As mentioned earlier, there is some evidence that Evelyn Waugh in Brideshead Revisited drew on real events in the lives of the Lygon family of Madresfield Court:
Two members of the family, Hugh Lygon (on whom, it is said, Sebastian Flyte is partially based) and his elder brother, Lord Elmley, were known to Waugh at Oxford. During the early 1930s, their father, Lord Beauchamp (William Lygon, 7th. Earl Beauchamp), divorced his wife and went to live abroad in exile after it was revealed that he was a practising homosexual.
The events surrounding the self-imposed exile of Sebastian Flyte's father in the novel are, however, substantially different from those which led to Lord Beauchamp's enforced exile.
The Canning Club is a University of Oxford student society founded in 1861. It was established as a forum for discussing and promoting Conservative political ideology.
It is not to be confused with another Canning Club (formerly the Argentinian Club) which is a gentlemen's club in St. James' Square, London.
J.C.R. stands for 'Junior Common Room'. This is a college-based organisation which represents undergraduates in the University administration, as well as being responsible for co-ordinating practical matters and arranging social events. It is also the name given to an actual room which is available for the use of undergraduates.
Oxford colleges also have 'Middle Common Rooms' to which postgraduate students belong, and 'Senior Common Rooms' to which fellows (teaching staff) belong.
Other British Universities, including Cambridge, Durham and Reading, also use the 'Common Room' system.
The Fuller's cake and confectionary company was established in the last decade of the 19th century by American William Bruce Fuller, whose first shop was on Oxford Street in London.
By 1909 the company had 24 teashops which used a distinctive white china with 'Fullers' stamped on it in red; by the 1950s, Fullers had 82 shops selling a range of cakes, Easter Eggs and chocolates.
Fuller's walnut cake was a layered sponge cake containing ground walnuts, with soft icing between the layers. It was topped with a crunchier icing (the colour of which is sometimes described as café au lait) and decorated with walnut halves.
Click here to see a modern-day lookalike.
Journalist and author Max Hastings recalls being sent Fuller's walnut cakes and Fuller's chocolate cakes (which cost six shillings!) when he was at boarding school in the 1950s.
In literature, Fuller's walnut cake is often portrayed as something quintessentially English. For example, Polly in Nancy Mitford's Love in a Cold Climate recalls how she became nostalgic for it whilst living abroad:
Fuller's! You'll never know how much I used to long for Dover sole and walnut cake and just this sort of day, in Sicily.
Another kind of Fuller's cake, 'angel-cake', also gets a mention in John Betjeman's poem, Myfanwy.
It is not clear whether Arkwright was an actual Oxford don. Does anybody have more information on this?
Like the Canning, Oxford University's Carlton Club (not to be confused with the London gentlemen's club) is a Conservative association.
The Grid (short for Gridiron Club) is an all-male Oxford University dining club, founded in 1884.
The Oxford Union, founded in 1823, is a debating society, rather than (as in most universities) a political/welfare organisation (a role played by the Oxford University Student Union).
It also arranges social events and visits by outside speakers. Notable guests have included Mother Teresa, Henry Kissinger, Ronald Reagan and the Dalai Lama.
Being elected to one of the offices of the Union (Secretary, Treasurer, Librarian, President) is traditionally seen as an important stepping stone to a career in politics.
Among those who have served as president of the Union are the British Liberal Prime Minister, Herbert Asquith; the Conservative Prime Minister, Edward Heath; the former Labour politician, Tony Benn; the former Liberal Party leader, Jeremy Thorpe; and Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London.
Boar's Hill (or Boars Hill) is a small hillside village situated about 3 miles southwest of Oxford. It is renowned for its particularly fine views of the surrounding countryside.
It is connected with a number of literary figures, including Matthew Arnold (for whom it provided the setting and inspiration for two poems: The Scholar Gypsy and Thyrsis), Robert Bridges, Robert Graves, Edmund Blunden and John Masefield, all of whom lived there are at various times.
It is not entirely clear why cousin Jasper should warn Charles against Boars Hill. Does anybody have any suggestions?
Leander Club is a prestigious rowing club, established in 1818, in Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire.
It began admitting women in 1998. The club colours are pink, and its full members are entitled to wear the pink club tie.
Anglo-Catholicism is the branch of the Church of England whose practices are closest to those of the Roman Catholic Church. Anglo-Catholic clergy may hear confessions and anoint the sick. It is sometimes referred to as 'High Church'.
It was promoted by the Oxford Movement (sometimes known as Tractarians) of the early Victorian period, whose leaders were John Keble, John Henry Newman and Edward Pusey. Newman, in fact, left the Church of England to join the Roman Catholic Church.
Gilly flower, or gillyflower, is the name given to a large number of different fragrant flowers, including carnations, pinks, stocks, sweet Williams and wallflowers.
The clove pink (Dianthus caryophyllus), for example, is known as the clove gillyflower.
Morris stuffs are fabrics designed by William Morris (1834-1896), an influential English textile designer and one of the founders of the Arts and Crafts Movement.
Arundel prints were produced by The Arundel Society for Promoting the Knowledge of Art, in existence between 1848 and 1897. The Society was formed in memory of Thomas Howard, 2nd Earl of Arundel, a renowned collector of works of art. John Ruskin, Sir Henry Austen Layard and Sir George Scharf were influential members of the Society, whose aim was to reproduce important literary and artistic works in order to improve public taste and provide guidelines for the work of contemporary artists.
Vincent Willem van Gogh (1853-1890) was a Dutch post-impressionist painter.
Between 1887 and 1889, he painted a series of paintings of sunflowers, four depicting cut flowers lying on the ground, and seven depicting sunflowers in vases.
Van Gogh's sunflowers were extremely popular and well-known works of art throughout the 20th century, and remain so today.
In 1913 he founded the Omega Workshops whose purpose was to invigorate the world of design with post-impressionistic concepts of colour and proportion. The workshops closed down in 1919.
He was an important member of the Bloomsbury group, and painted portraits of others in the group, including Virginia Woolf and Vanessa Bell.
The Poetry Bookshop, founded by Harold Munro, was based in Devonshire Street in the Bloomsbury area of central London. It was both a shop and a small publishing house which was in existence between 1912 (some sources say 1913) and 1935 (some sources say 1926).
It is particularly well-known for its production of small posters known as rhyme sheets which featured an illustrated poem. Rhyme sheets (sometimes referred to as broadsides) often had hand-coloured illustrations by well-known artists such as Claud Lovat Fraser. The series available for children was particularly popular.
Click here and scroll down to see an example of a Poetry Bookshop children's rhyme sheet.
It is a piece of musical theatre of the type known as a ballad opera. Ballad Operas have a satirical purpose; the focus of the satire in The Beggar's Opera is Italian opera.
A film version of the opera was made in 1953 starring Laurence Olivier as Captain Macheath, and Dorothy Tutin as Polly Peachum:
It was a popular and influential book which ranged broadly over the history of World Art and expressed clear and controversial viewpoints on many aspects of the creative process.
One of its main tenets is that 'form' is more important than 'content': a work of art should be judged primarily on its visual appearance rather than on its 'meaning'.
Written in a simple, engaging style, the poems' depiction of the English countryside, with their themes of youth, love and mortality, struck a chord with the reading public, and the collection was a great success during the early decades of the 20th Century.
From 'Loveliest of trees, the cherry now':
And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodland I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.
Listen on Spotify to a George Butterworth setting of 'Loveliest of Trees ...'
It is notable for dealing with these worthy figures in a lively, irreverential and witty way.
Georgian Poetry was a series of anthologies of English poetry, published between 1912 and 1922 under the editorship of Edward Marsh.
It was published in 5 volumes in 1912, 1915, 1917, 1919 and 1922 by Harold Munro of The Poetry Bookshop, and dealt with poems written between 1911 and 1922.
Poets whose work appears in the anthologies include Walter de la Mare, Rupert Brooke, John Masefield, Siegfried Sassoon and D.H. Lawrence.
Sir Edward Montague Compton Mackenzie (1883-1972) was an English-born Scottish novelist, best known for two novels: Monarch of the Glen (1941) and Whisky Galore (1947); the second novel was made into a film in 1948.
He was extremely proud of his Scottish roots and was one of the founder members of the Scottish Nationalist Party.
The novel South Wind is the best-known work of Norman Douglas (1868-1952), a British novelist and travel writer.
The concept of Significant Form was devised by Clive Bell (1881-1964) in his book Art (1914). Bell was an English art critic, a member of the Bloomsbury Group, and the husband of Vanessa Stephen (Virginia Woolf's sister).
Bell argued (rather like Roger Fry, whose ideas were discussed earlier) that the only relevant aspects of a work of art are its physical properties, and that its historical context and what it represents are both irrelevant to its appreciation.
The quote which Sebastian reads from Bell's Art ("Does anyone feel the same kind of emotion for a butterfly or a flower that he feels for a cathedral or a picture?") comes from the first chapter entitled 'The Aesthetic Hypothesis'.
Click here to read Art on-line.
Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) was a French artist whose work developed stylistically throughout his life. His later work falls into the Post-Impressionist category, and he is believed to have had a significant influence upon many 20th century artists, including Matisse and Picasso.
Sir Edwin Henry Landseer (1802-1873) was an English artist and sculptor, especially well known for his paintings of dogs and horses. He also created the Trafalgar Square lions.
Collins' argument is not entirely clear (to me, anyway!); possibly Evelyn Waugh did not intend it to be, thus illustrating how the complexity of the intellectual's style of thinking is actually less illuminating than Sebastian's simple and direct observations from personal experience.
However, if it is an argument meant to be understood and taken seriously, Collins is perhaps suggesting that if we accept the role of human perception in allowing us to see three dimensions in a flat canvas, we must also accept the element of human interpretation of meaning, based on knowledge and experience (which Fry and Bell would see as irrelevant), which is involved in the appreciation of any work of art.
Sebastian having his teddy bear at Oxford is said to be based on the actions of the poet John Betjeman who took his bear with him when he went up to Magdalen College in 1925.
Betjeman's teddy bear was called Archibald Ormsby-Gore ('Archie' for short!).
'The House' is the Oxford college, Christ Church.
'Great Tom' is a bell in Tom Tower, which forms part of the main entrance to Christ Church. Traditionally, 'Great Tom' was sounded 101 times at 9.05 p.m to summon students back to their colleges for curfew.
Discipline at Oxford colleges in this period was taken seriously and transgressions were dealt with by special officers of the University, known as proctors, and by the Bulldogs (the University's private police force).
The Meadow Building is that part of Christ Church College which overlooks Christ Church Meadow.
Interestingly, in view of Sebastian's aristocratic pedigree, it was not considered a fashionable part of the college in which to be accommodated.
Plovers' eggs are the eggs of the Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus), also known as the Green Plover or the Peewit. The eggs are laid on open ground.
When cooked, they may be served hot or cold; if the latter, they are often served, as here, on a bed of moss.
It is still in operation today, under the name Manufacture Nationale de Sèvres.
Honoré Daumier (1808-1879) was a prolific French printmaker, as well as a skilled draughtsman, caricaturist, painter and sculptor.
His work is noted for its astute observation and for its satirical take on French life of the period.
Cherwell Edge, built in 1887 as a private house, became a hostel for female Catholic students of Oxford University in 1907.
It appears also to have been used to house the students of St. Anne's College, possibly during the 1940s.
It is now Linacre College, a graduate-only institution.
Somerville College was founded in 1879 as an all-female college but amended its rules in 1992 so that male teaching staff and male undergraduate students could be admitted.
Charles Ryder is, therefore, suggesting that Anthony Blanche was a byeword for iniquity* amongst female students.
* a notable example of wickedness
A notoriously complex poem, full of esoteric allusions and references, it has by no means been universally acclaimed by critics or the reading public. However, it is generally accepted as one of the most significant poems of the 20th century.
It consists of five parts, whose titles are The Burial of the Dead; A Game of Chess; The Fire Sermon; Death by Water and What the Thunder Said.
The lines recited by Anthony Blanche are taken from The Fire Sermon.
Harold Acton, on whom the character Anthony Blanche is said to be partly based, did on one occasion lean out of his window at Christ Church and recite The Waste Land through a megaphone.
Grace Darling (1815-1842) was a renowned Victorian heroine.
In 1838, she and her father saved 13 people from the wreck of the S.S. Forfarshire which had gone aground on rocks off the coast of Northumberland.
Here, of course, Anthony Blanche's admiration is directed at the boatmen rather than at Grace Darling!
It may be drunk as an apéritif (before a meal, to stimulate the appetite) or as a digestif (after a meal, to aid digestion).
The poem (whose theme is the education of women) consists of a Prologue, 7 cantos and a conclusion. Home they brought her warrior dead is the first line of a section which stands alone at the end of the fifth canto; Gustav Holst arranged a musical setting for it in 1905.
Home they brought her warrior dead:
She nor swooned, nor uttered cry:
All her maidens, watching said,
'She must weep or she will die'.
A harmonium is a type of keyboard instrument.
Founded in 1621, the University of Oxford Botanic Garden is one of the oldest in Britain.
It is situated on the banks of the River Cherwell, on land belonging to Magdalen College, and contains over 8,000 different species of plants.
Merton, founded in 1264, is one of the oldest colleges in Oxford.
It was built as a hunting lodge for François I who wished its roof structure to imitate the skyline of Constantinople.
A cupola is a dome-shaped structure built on top of a roof or larger dome in order to let in light or air, or to act as a lookout point.
As previously noted, Brideshead Castle is partially modelled on Castle Howard in Yorkshire, which is a domed building.
All the features mentioned here can be found at Castle Howard.
There are, in fact, two fountains at Castle Howard: the well known Atlas Fountain and The Prince of Wales Fountain.
The temple at Castle Howard is known as the Temple of the Four Winds.
An obelisk is a tall, usually four-sided tapering structure, which may or may not have an interior space.
An oleograph is a coloured lithograph made to look like an oil painting.
The Sacred Heart is a devotion* of the Catholic church to Jesus' physical heart, which is seen as representing his love for mankind. Traditionally, it has been an important theme in Christian Art.
*a form of prayer which is practised by some Catholics, but which is not an official part of the liturgy
Queen Alexandra was the wife of King Edward Vll, whom she married in 1863.
The 50th anniversary of her arrival in London from Denmark, as Princess Alexandra, was marked in 1912 by the inauguration of the Alexandra Rose Day.
This was a fund-raising event, held in June, during which artificial wild roses made by disabled people were sold in aid of London hospitals.
The 'Rose Day' is still in existence; its purpose now is to collect on behalf of a wide range of charities.
The chapel at Brideshead is based on the chapel at Madresfield Court in Worcestershire, the ancestral home of the Lygon family. Click here to see a picture.
Art Nouveau was a style in art, architecture and design, at its height between 1890 and 1905. It is characterised by the use of curvy, sinuous lines, stylised images of fruit and flowers, and Pre-Raphaelite idealised female forms.
At the beginning of the war, the British Red Cross and the Order of St. John organised Voluntary Aid Detachments to work in hospitals and other settings, both in Britain and abroad. The name VADs was given to the women who staffed these units as nurses, first-aid workers and cooks.
In World War One, women members of the Red Cross and other organisations worked, and often died, in many European countries including Serbia, Russia, Romania, Egypt, Mesopotamia, Italy, France and Belgium.
The Grand Remonstrance was a document presented by the English Parliament to King Charles in December 1641.
It listed numerous grievances that had built up during the King's reign, and attributed blame to those considered responsible for perceived failings in the way the country was being run.
The failure of the King to respond adequately to this document contributed to the tensions which led to the outbreak of the English Civil War in August 1642.
Pindar (c.522-443BC) was one of the nine Ancient Greek lyric poets.
Orphic beliefs share some characteristics with Buddhism, holding that the soul must pass through several bodies in a "grievous circle" before being released to the spiritual plane.