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Will This Do? The First Fifty Years of Auberon Waugh: An Autobiography [Hardcover]

Auberon Waugh
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1991
Born into the vastness of Pixton Park in Somerset, Auberon Waugh was drawn early into class warfare; he pretended he had seen evacuees and children of servants eat rat poison so they would all have their stomach pumped. His father despised him. Bron responded in kind, finding his father hypocritical and pretentious. Some of Evelyn's friends, such as John Betjeman and Graham Greene were kind to Bron, but it is those who snubbed him such as Cyril Connolly, Maurice Bowra and Anthony Powell who loom larger. Embarrassing early sexual fondlings, an inglorious early exit from Oxford, a failure to get into M15 and an army accident which left him confined to a hospital bed and unable to escape from a friend of his mother's who insisted on reading him Lawrence Durrell and a humiliating time spent writing captions for Page 3 girls, reduced the now declasse Waugh to friendships with journalists on the fringes of respectability - Richard Ingrams, Paul Foot, Peter Cook and Nigel Lawson. Now in his 50th year he sums up a literary achievement, asking the august creator of this being, "Will This Do?".


Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Century; 1st edition (1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0712637338
  • ISBN-13: 978-0712637336
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 16 x 4.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 92,248 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

'Both an exuberant chronicle of English literary life and a very funny sendup.' -- James Atlas, The New Yorker

'Terrifically entertaining...funny, acerbic, and a little sad.' -- Michiko Kahutani, The New York Times --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE MAN IN THE IRONIC MASK 3 Mar 2001
Format:Hardcover
.
The death of Auberon Waugh in January 2001 marks the end of an era. Auberon and his father Evelyn were masters of the English language. Together they perfected the use of ironic wit.
"Will this Do?" is much more than an autobiography. It is an encapsulation of an era and a culture. His work covers that incredible period of British history (1960 - 1980) where the "old order" Establishment, with its upper class "born to rule" social structures were overthrown.
In that period political satire became part of popular culture. Witness the rise of "smart" young men like David Frost and the circle of comedians that arose from the Cambridge Footlights. The weekly newspaper "Private Eye" was one of the most influential outlets for Auberon Waugh where he wrote a column for many years. The "Eye" did more for exposing political and social scandal In Britain than any other forum.
Waugh's membership of both the "upper" class and influential, activist intellectual circles put he him in a unique position to observe and comment on the quirks and absurdities of his Britain.
Occasionally he was overtly a political activist. The most prominent example was his very public support of the Biafran cause in the Nigerian Civil War in the early 1970s. This put him at loggerheads with the British government.
In Waugh's biography his ironic tone is pervasive. Even those readers who know his work well, will at times struggle to figure out whether he is joking, serious or merely "going over the top".
Auberon's humour didn't travel too well across the Atlantic. He found American's far "too earnest", who take his words too literally.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Will This Do? Well, yeah but........... 11 Jun 2011
Format:Hardcover
Waugh was a fine writer and could be insightful, a brilliant analyst and funny with it. How could such a talented and sensitive man be such a monster in the way he lived his life and treated his family (and almost anyone he came into contact with)? The snobbery and arrogance is breathtaking but, like Alan Clarke and his diaries, makes for a terrific read. Highly recommended to anyone interested in good writing and the social history of upper middle class post war English society.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.2 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars This will do 23 April 2001
By Jay Dickson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
There's something almost irresistible about the memoirs of a child of Evelyn Waugh, and there's much pleasure to be had in the first half of the autobiography. Auberon Waugh's dealings with his splenetic, conservative father--among the posh country houses of his family and their relatives--makes the stuff of a fine story, and Waugh brings great ironic humor to the table. Unfortunately, Auberon's own literary career is much less interesting, and concerns mainly petty squabbles and encounters with figures who are only of passing interest today: it's hard to get very worked up one way or the other, for instance, about Claire Tomalin's libel suit against him.
Waugh's humor (like his father's) is not to everyone's tastes, but if you find his snobbish summaries and appreciations for the bizarre droll (as I do), you'll enjoy yourself very much. He is very much aware of his snobbism, as well as his father's, and his self-deprecating awareness of both men's failing is greatly appreciated, and makes the entire matter much easier to take.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE MAN IN THE IRONIC MASK 26 Jan 2001
By "hurburgh" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
.
The death of Auberon Waugh in January 2001 marks the end of an era. Auberon and his father Evelyn were masters of the English language. Together they perfected the use of ironic wit.
"Will this Do?" is much more than an autobiography. It is an encapsulation of an era and a culture. His work covers that incredible period of British history (1960 - 1980) where the "old order" Establishment, with its upper class "born to rule" social structures were overthrown.
In that period political satire became part of popular culture. Witness the rise of "smart" young men like David Frost and the circle of comedians that arose from the Cambridge Footlights. The weekly newspaper "Private Eye" was one of the most influential outlets for Auberon Waugh where he wrote a column for many years. The "Eye" did more for exposing political and social scandal in Britain than any other forum.
Waugh's membership of both the "upper" class and influential, activist intellectual circles put he him in a unique position to observe and comment on the quirks and absurdities of his Britain.
Occasionally he was overtly a political activist. The most prominent example was his very public support of the Biafran cause in the Nigerian Civil War in the early 1970s. This put him at loggerheads with the British government.
In Waugh's biography his ironic tone is pervasive. Even those readers who know his work well, will at times struggle to figure out whether he is joking, serious or merely "going over the top".
Auberon's humour didn't travel too well across the Atlantic. He found American's far "too earnest", who take his words too literally. However the gulf in styles of humour between the Anglo and the American world must have been closed to some degree thanks to Waugh's writing.
Waugh's influence on the world of wine was huge. For many years he wrote a wine column in the English "Spectator". In the early 1980's he "discovered" New World (Australian and Californian) wine. Although the Spectator at that time had a subscription base of only 14,000, it was hugely influential. The cellars of the House of Lords were probably restocked on the advice of Waugh. When you look at the exponential growth of New World wine exports since that time we may have a perfect example of viral marketing, thanks to one man's words in an obscure journal.
Many people who are not familiar with the style and wit of Waugh may find his writing pompous and haughty. It is well worth persisting though. He was probably the first writer to do a demolition job on Political Correctness. His favourite targets were the self-righteous. If they happened to be humourless as well (a strong correlation?) they would get both barrels from Waugh.
The influence of both Evelyn and Auberon Waugh will be felt for many years. Any body who loves the English language should read Auberon's autobiography. His work is the ideal example of that old aphorism " The Pen is Mightier than the Sword".
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Particularly enjoyed his account of his formative years 7 Jan 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The recollections of Waugh are particularly funny when he describes his childhood up through his service in the army in Cyprus. After that, you have to be a student the British literary establishment and a confirmed anglophile to follow and tolerate all his comings and goings and shameless name-dropping. The first half of the memoir, though, more than justifies the investment. Waugh is a very funny man. Droll is the best way to describe his humor. Or "withering."
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Funny, Beautifully Written 6 Oct 2005
By R. Hossain - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I enjoyed the book a great deal. It is a series of interconnected vignettes, which almost encourages the reader to open the book on any page and start reading (certainly my preferred technique for reading this book). Funny, yet with a lingering sadness, written in a prose style that is precise while being still extraordinarily natural and carefree. I am not sure everyone will like the book, but those who do will tend to love it.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pithy and Tart 7 Nov 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Auberon Waugh paints a tragicomic portrait of life as the scion of a literary giant who manages to do a thing or two of importance and artistic merit in spite of himself.
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