Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Fathers and Sons: The Autobiography of a Family

Magazine article First Things; A Monthly Journal of Religion and Public Life

Fathers and Sons: The Autobiography of a Family

Article excerpt

FATHERS AND SONS: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A FAMILY by Alexander Waugh Nan A. Talese, 480 pages, $27.50

Alexander Waugh's Fathers and Sons recounts the relationships that built one of the great English literary dynasties of the twentieth century. After an opening meditation on the death of father Auberon, Alexander looks back to great-great-grandfather Dr. Alexander Waugh, justly nicknamed "the Brute." The doctor's savagery toward son Arthur helps explain the latter's limitations as a father. Subsequent chapters record his sentimental preference, resented by the young Evelyn, for elder son Alec. Evelyn would later take revenge by lampooning his father's worst traits in successive novels, but he in turn showed a shocking aloofness toward his own children. Alexander does record moments of familial harmony, however. Several letters from Evelyn to son Auberon reveal a loving father who encouraged his son's literary ambitions, and Alexander describes his own bond with father Auberon. …

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