Asterisk denotes entries on real places.
*Oxford University. Historic English university that is novel’s second great anchor. There Charles meets Sebastian and most of the friends he retains through the rest of his life. The heady charm of Oxford’s dreaming spires and intense friendships of youth influence Charles more than the university’s intellectual opportunities. The unimaginably wealthy and charming Sebastian introduces Charles to a new world of art and pleasure. Although Charles leaves Oxford without taking a degree and becomes a successful artist, Oxford continues to inspire him and remain a touchstone of his youth.
Ryder family home. Charles’s childhood home and his life there with his widower father serve as a counterpoint to the glamour of Brideshead and Oxford. After blowing his allowance too quickly at Oxford, Charles returns to a dull life with his father. Eventually it becomes clear his father’s bemused detachment is the model for his son’s inability to attach to his own wife and children, as the glamour of the Marchmains becomes his only reality.
*Venice. Italian city in which Lord Marchmain has lived with his mistress, Cara, for years. After Charles escapes the tedium of his family home, he and Sebastian decamp to Venice, where he finds that Sebastian’s father and mistress are a sedate middle-aged couple who are received in the best homes. The wise Cara is a counterpoint to the manipulative and devoutly religious Lady Marchmain at Brideshead. Charles’s Venice sojourn, like his earlier experiences at Oxford and Brideshead, are important learning experiences. Moreover, the lush beauty of all three places helps form Charles’s sensibilities as an artist.
*London. Capital of Great Britain and cultural and commercial center of the British Empire. Charles spends much of his adult life in London, where his Oxford contacts help advance his artistic career. Evelyn Waugh depicts London and Charles’s friends there as stagnant and without the allure of Brideshead, Oxford, Venice, and exotic places on which Charles bases his art. The chief characters of Brideshead Revisited do not thrive in London.
Ocean liner. Ship on which Charles and Sebastian’s sister Julia are reunited during a transatlantic voyage. At sea, attached to no firm ground, Charles begins an affair with Julia while his seasick wife is confined to her cabin.
*North Africa. After Sebastian becomes a confirmed alcoholic, he roams around North Africa, supported by family funds. He gains a sense of purpose caring for a German boy fleeing conscription by the Nazis but continues to drink. He finally turns up on the doorstep of a monastery in Tunis. Although he appears to be at the point of death, the monks nurse him back to life. He joins the remote monastery as a lay brother. The monks tolerate his alcoholism and come to believe him a holy man. Sebastian’s final fate and home in Tunis force Charles to ponder anew the connections between charm, religious faith, and a love of beautiful places in the Marchmain family.