July 16th, 2008


From generation unto generation

I see it's over two years since I wrote here about Alexander Waugh and his forebears. Now I've read the book which the television programme was a puff for. It's hard to find a niche when your father and grandfather are so famous and Mr Waugh has had a varied career. You might wonder what can be added to the world's Waviana but in this 'Autobiography of a Family' the author has had access to previously unpublished letters and of course to his own memories. The most interesting part of the book is probably the story of the obsessive love which Arthur Waugh, Evelyn's father, felt for his elder son, Alec, at Evelyn's expense. There is also a lot about Alec which I never knew before and which makes him a surprisingly attractive character. Ironic that Evelyn, settled in marriage, hard working, religious, was far more like his father than the better beloved son. The present head of the family has many irritating stylistic tricks; in particular the repeated use of the word 'homosexualist'. It must be a family trait as I'm quite sure that, like his illustrious relatives, he is not at all homophobic. It's still a very readable book. I went from this to other biographies on the shelf and dipped yet again into the brilliant Way of The World. Now I'm getting an urge to read Brideshead again. I'd watch the DVD if the machine weren't broken.