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The Winged Host: Memory, Trauma and Loss in Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited

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posted on 2023-01-19, 11:24 authored by Ase Anneli Bjorasen
Submission note: This thesis is submitted in total fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy to the School of English, College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce, La Trobe University, Victoria, Australia.

This thesis analyses the role of memory in Evelyn Waugh’s novel Brideshead Revisited to communicate experiences of loss. It traces the impact of trauma on its characters in the aftermath of the First World War in responses to grief, social disillusionment, modernity and despiritualization. It focuses on English society and culture during and relating to the interwar period with particular attention to the circumstances and experiences of the younger generation of the upper class. Brideshead Revisited makes a unique contribution to understanding the perspectives of the young generation of the interwar period and provides significant material for the study of the role of memory in fiction. Drawing connections between modern memory theory, modern and historic trauma theory, spirituality, modernity, place and war, and advancing the theory of subjunctive memory, this thesis examines the collective identity and trauma of Waugh’s generation through the examples of Charles Ryder, Sebastian Flyte and Julia Mottram in Brideshead Revisited. The Introduction of this thesis examines the motif of return and analyses the multiple layers of narrative and memory that merge in the novel. Chapter One looks at the relationship between place and narrative within the novel to elucidate Waugh’s disillusionment with the modern world during the Second World War. Chapter Two discusses the relationship between morality and motherhood as a method for discussing the use of feminine memory in the novel. Chapter Three analyses the narrative impact of the First World War to discuss the visibility of collective memory and generational trauma in the novel. Chapter Four examines the influence of Waugh’s relationship with Alastair Graham on the development and memories of Sebastian Flyte. The Conclusion considers how the reader contributes to the layering of memory within the narrative and continues to shift the meaning of the novel.


Center or Department

College of Arts, Social Sciences and Commerce. School of English.

Thesis type

  • Ph. D.

Awarding institution

La Trobe University

Year Awarded


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This thesis contains third party copyright material which has been reproduced here with permission. Any further use requires permission of the copyright owner. The thesis author retains all proprietary rights (such as copyright and patent rights) over all other content of this thesis, and has granted La Trobe University permission to reproduce and communicate this version of the thesis. The author has declared that any third party copyright material contained within the thesis made available here is reproduced and communicated with permission. If you believe that any material has been made available without permission of the copyright owner please contact us with the details.

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