Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1945. First American edition. Octavo, original red cloth stamped in black, original dust jacket. Small tear to lower corner of rear pastedown, minor wear to top edge of the jacket. A nearly-fine copy. Item #1034
"TO KNOW AND LOVE ONE OTHER HUMAN BEING IS THE ROOT OF ALL WISDOM" True first American edition of Evelyn Waugh's most enduring novel—an excellent copy in the original dust jacket designed by Lester M. Peterson. Written early in 1944 and animated by a wistful portrait of undergraduate life at Oxford University in the 1920’s, Brideshead Revisited was a stylistic pivot from the biting satire which had characterized Waugh’s earlier work. "Several of the themes and characters introduced here take on darker hues as the story progresses, but the early days, as Waugh depicts them, are cloudless and golden" (Russell Shaw, Revisiting Brideshead Revisited). The book consists of four parts: Prologue: Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder, Book One. Et in Arcadia Ego, Book Two. A Twitch upon the Thread, Epilogue: Brideshead Revisited (dated, "Chagford, February-June, 1944."). The novel capped a personal transformation as well: "Waugh completed the metamorphosis from ultramodern to ultramontane and in doing so passed from fashion to anti-fashion" (Joseph Pearce, Literary Converts). Waugh's nostalgia for the 1920's and 30's struck a chord with readers as the world began to emerge the Second World War and Brideshead was published in multiple English and American editions by the end of 1945. Brideshead Revisited "sold exceedingly well on both sides of the Atlantic. In England, the Tablet acclaimed it ‘a book for which it is safe to prophesy a lasting place among the major works of fiction.’ In America, Time described Waugh as a stylist unexcelled among contemporary novelists" (Joseph Pearce). Contrary to standard publishing practice, the Book of the Month Club edition actually preceded the first trade and limited editions. With Waugh’s epigraphic Author’s Note: "I am not I: thou art not he or she: they are not they. E.W." Ahearn, 19e. Shaw, Revisiting Brideshead Revisited (in The Catholic World Report, August 2020). Pearce, Literary Converts: Spiritual Inspiration in an Age of Unbelief.