after all the exertions of my wife's pleasures

Tea Addict

Senior Member
Republic of Korea Korean
Hello everyone. I would like to know what "after all the exertions of my wife's pleasures" means in the following sentences:

"My mind reeled; after the parrot-house fever of my wife's party, and unplumbed emotions of the afternoon, after all the exertions of my wife's pleasures in New York, after the months of solitude in the steaming, green shadows of the jungle, this was too much. I felt like Lear on the heath, like the Duchess of Malfi bayed by madmen. I summoned cataracts and hurricanoes, and as if by conjury the call was immediately answered."

This is an excerpt from Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh. Charles spent two years in Latin America in order to find inspiration for his paintings. After the long travel, he was met by his wife Celia in New York. Upon meeting him, she started to chatter about almost anything: her children, a change in their house, et cetera. On the ship sailing from New York to England, Celia invited everyone to the cocktail party and made dinner appoinments with everyone, whereupon Charles felt being overwhelmed by too much social intercourse.

Here, I could not grasp what the underlined part meant. All they (Charles and Celia) did in New York was a party, followed by his wife's endless talking, a sexual intercourse, and a couple of hours of sleep.
I would very much appreciate your help.
 
  • PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    I am sorry to disappoint you but, unless you have omitted some vital context, there is no reference to sexual intercourse.

    after all the exertions of my wife's pleasures in New York, = after my wife had done everything that she wanted to do in New York,
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    I've just skimmed through the chapter (and I'm afraid I disagree with PaulQ, sexual intercourse is very strongly suggested in the passage describing their first night together in the hotel: "she had neat, hygienic ways for that too").

    I think there are some days missing. Waugh keeps shifting time in the opening part of this chapter, and although only one night in New York is described, I expect they stayed there for some time. I dare say Celia dragged him off all over the place in New York, and this is what is being referred to (not sexual intercourse, in case you were wondering; I doubt that would warrant the word "all" here).
     

    Tea Addict

    Senior Member
    Republic of Korea Korean
    Dear PaulQ and Uncle Jack,

    Thank you so much for the explanation!
    So there must have been some other events that Celia sort of forced to Charles, although they were not described in the book.
    I truly appreciate your help. :)
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    …… later we parted and lay in our twin beds a yard or two distant, smoking. I looked at my watch; it was four o’clock, but neither of us was ready to sleep ……​

    The above passage in particular confirms that they had sex, but that’s not really relevant to the question.

    It’s easy to see that the passage in the OP could be a little confusing since one of its three instances of “after” has a slightly different implication:

    My mind reeled; after the parrot-house fever of my wife's party, and unplumbed emotions of the afternoon, after all the exertions of my wife's pleasures in New York (partying, shopping, dining out?), after (= compared with) the months of solitude in the steaming, green shadows of the jungle, this was too much.​

    The point being made is simply that Charles – having spent so long living in quiet isolation – is feeling overwhelmed by all the recent hustle and bustle and noise and people. He feels he’s going mad and is comparing himself to classic theatrical characters who felt much the same.
     

    Tea Addict

    Senior Member
    Republic of Korea Korean
    Dear lingobingo,

    Thank you for pointing out that important part.
    The two afters that appeared earlier imply the time difference, whereas the third after implies comparison.
    Your explanation helped me see the text more clearly.
    I really appreciate your help. :)
     
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