…to Brideshead Revisited.
Quomodo sedet sola civitas… How doth the city sit solitary
…”I thought: 'The builders did not know the uses to which their work would descend; they made a new house with the stones of the old castle; year by year, generation after generation, they enriched and extended it; year by year the great harvest of timber in the park grew to ripeness; until, in sudden frost, came the age of Hooper; the place was desolate and the work all brought to nothing; Quomodo sedet sola civitas. Vanity of vanities, all is vanity’…”
"My theme, says the narrator in Evelyn Waugh's book, this most carefully written and deeply felt novel, "is memory, that winged host." And, with that, the bright devastating satirist of England moved from one world to another. From the lunacy of a burlesqued Mayfair, to a world in which people credibly think and feel. For Mr. Waugh was very definitely an artist, with something like a genius for precision and clarity not surpassed by any novelists writing in English at that time.
It tells an absorbing story in imaginative terms. By indirection, it summarizes and comments upon a time and a society. It has an almost romantic sense of wonder, together with the provocative, personal point of view of a writer who saw life realistically. And, the moralist remained. For Mr. Waugh was, of course, a moralist after his fashion, and always would be; when you look even slightly beneath the hilarity of those Mayfair studies, you see that he is performing the satirist's ancient function: he is excoriating the morals and standards of a society. Needless to say, he was too much the artist-and too astute as an entertainer- ever to be didactic; but inevitably it is there, in the satirist's way with absurdity, including the absurdity of empty tradition; the moralist's hatred of injustice and his unspoken belief in the values of intelligence and simple decency.
“Quia fecisti nos ad te et inquietum est cor nostrum donec requiescat in te.” (Our hearts are restless ‘till they find rest in Thee.)