Ideas Matter: the boi podcast

Ideas Matter: ‘Brideshead Revisited: World wars and the end of the old elite’

December 22, 2021

From the series ‘The elite: old and new’, theme of the boi charity’s event The Academy, held online in November 2021.

Published in the weeks after VE day in 1945, just as British voters swept a Labour Government into power, Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited was a surprise bestseller in both the UK and America, and captured the imagination of generations of readers. The story follows the life of Captain Charles Ryder and his fateful obsession with the aristocratic Flyte family as they slowly fall from grace and fortune during the interwar years. So how does Waugh make sense of the decline of the British establishment? Is the destruction of the old order, as one character has it, ‘all on account of the war’? What drove Waugh’s attacks on modernism? And what can the decline of the old elite tell us about the elite of today?

Lecture by Helen Searls, chief operating officer, Feature Story News (FSN); founder, Washington Hyenas’ Book Club

THE ACADEMY ONLINE IV: The elite: old and new
To view the full programme and some suggested background reading to the talks, please visit  


For this lecture you may wish to read:-


In the context of today’s instrumental approaches to knowledge, The Academy summer school is a modest attempt to demonstrate the value of scholarship, and of the worth of the university as a place of free enquiry dedicated to the pursuit of truth.


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