Thursday, April 21, 2011

Top ten quest narratives

Robert Irwin has published six novels including The Arabian Nightmare, The Mysteries of Algiers, Exquisite Corpse, and Satan Wants Me. He is the author of ten works of non-fiction including The Arabian Nights: A Companion, Night and Horses and the Desert: The Penguin Anthology of Classical Arabic Literature and For Lust of Knowing. His latest book, Memoirs of a Dervish: Sufis, Mystics and the Sixties, is out this month in the UK.

For the Guardian he named a top ten list of quest narratives. One book on the list:
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh

Underlying all the satire, snobbery, nostalgia and hedonism, a strong spiritual theme provides Waugh's novel with both its structure and its underlying meaning. Brideshead Revisited is really a platonic, Roman Catholic allegory. From the moment he encountered Sebastian Flyte in 1920s Oxford, Charles Ryder, without realising it, had embarked on a quest that would bring him to God (though this is only implied, for the novel ends before the inevitable culmination). The beauty of Sebastian and Julia Flyte, as well as of Brideshead, are only foreshadowings of the ultimate source of all beauty.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Brideshead Revisited is one of Val McDermid's top ten Oxford novels and Christopher Buckley's best books.

--Marshal Zeringue