More Brideshead

Alex Massie wonders if by referring to Brideshead Revisited as one of Waugh's "more serious novels," I meant to imply that "Scoop isn't a serious commentary on journalism?" Of course the answer is no: Had I been more careful in my choice of words, I would have described Brideshead as one of Waugh's less hilarious novels, which I think is a more apt way of distinguishing between elegies and his (extremely serious) comedies.

I would take issue, though, with Massie's willingness to forgive the new adaptation's screenwriters their apparent intention to turn Brideshead into a story about how Catholicism can ruin your life - because, he writes, "there's little necessity for an adaptation to be faithful to the original author's intent." Well ... up to a point, Lord Copper. Of course it's possible to take considerable liberties with an adaptation and produce something that's as good or better than the original - or at least something that's more trashy and fun. But especially where classic (and somewhat politically-incorrect) novels are concerned, the more violence an adaptation does to the central themes of the source material, the more likely you are to end up with something like this.

(Though admittedly, I'm someone who absolutely loathes Julie Andrews' cheery take on Mary Poppins because it's a betrayal of everything that makes the novels great, so maybe I tend toward a certain extremism on this point.)