NO AMERICAN did more to resuscitate Evelyn Waugh's reputation than the late William F. Buckley. By Waugh's death in 1966, the reactionary Catholic novelist's standing had fallen almost as low as Jay Mclnerney's has today, yet Buckley's devotion introduced Waugh to a new generation. For Waugh's 1982 apotheosis, the monumental 13-episode "Brideshead Revisited" miniseries, Buckley was rightly hired to host the show on PBS.After [Sebastian Flyte] drinks himself into a monastery, Ryder's ingenuous "romantic friendship" with Sebastian is followed by a mature love affair with Sebastian's sister Julia She's unhappily married to the crass politician Rex Mottram, whom Waugh modeled on Winston Churchill's right-hand man, Brendan Bracken. Rex is willing to give her a divorce, but Julia's vestigial Catholicism raises qualms in her about remarriage.While the 2008 "Brideshead Revisited" is certainly tasteful and efficient, those are just about the last words you'd associate with Waugh's grand but sprawling bestseller, half-masterpiece, half-embarrassment. Waugh had achieved near-perfection in Scoop, his 1938 satirical novel. In the more melodramatic Brideshead, however, he wore his heart on his sleeve ("The languor of Youth-how unique and quintessential it is! How quickly, how irrecoverably, lost!"), revealing the easily bruised soul over which he had grown his carapace of malicious wit.