This response by Charles Ryder to his wife’s question is striking.  While change is inevitable, I am not sure it is ‘evidence of life’.  The dead also change.

Yet given the state of his marriage when his wife posed the question, and the about-to-bloom love with Julia, it might be taken as a personal realisation that only by changing his life (wife) was he likely to start living fully. It is also a cleverly evasive response, among others, that avoids his having to reveal his lack of feeling for her, at least explicitly.

“‘D’you want to change?’

‘It’s the only evidence of life.'”

Source: Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited: The Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1968 (1945)), p. 220

Photo credit: Mickey O’neil at


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