Author Topic: Arthur and Alex Waugh  (Read 295 times)


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Arthur and Alex Waugh
« on: May 19, 2021, 09:10:37 PM »
The New Yorker magazine of 2 July 2007 prints an interesting review of Alexander Waugh's "Fathers and Sons" by Joan Acocella. The book is about father-son relationships in five generations of the Waugh family. The Brute begat Arthur who begat both Evelyn and his older, but now less well known brother Alec. Evelyn begat Auberon who begat Alexander. I hope all is clear. Here is a quotation:

"No man ever loved a child more than Arthur loved Alec - 'son of my soul,' as  he called him. He seems to have spent almost every hour of his non-work time talking to the boy, reading to him, taking walks with him. When Alec went away to his father's alma mater, Sherborne, the child and the school fused, in Arthur's mind, into one refulgent idol. He spent every weekend at Sherborne, visiting Alec and his friends, whom he wooed to become his friends. He said that he dreamed every night of being a new boy at the school. He and Alec wrote to each other daily, and Arthur awaited Alec's letters, Alexander says, like a teen-ager in love".

Now, this is far from exactly the same as the relationship between JMB and Michael, but it is striking to think that at more or less the same time as daily letters were going back and forth between Eton and the Adelphi, the same was happening between Sherborne and Golders Green, and I wonder how common this kind of obsessive communication was. We only know about these two cases because of the celebrity of some of the people involved, and because they committed their thoughts to paper. Now of course we have emails, text messages, whatsapp and so on, which leave little trace - except in that big computer in the desert. So here's a plea for more understanding of Barry's loneliness and emptiness: he wasn't/isn't/never will be the only one. As the review continues:

"Alexander thinks that Arthur, because of his tortured relations with the Brute, never had a proper childhood. Now he had one: Alec's".

« Last Edit: May 20, 2021, 02:25:55 PM by Nicholas »


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Re: Arthur and Alex Waugh
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2021, 11:43:53 AM »
Spot on, Nicholas - and "thanks for sharing" (yuk). Most of us weirdos are more or less lonely souls, and when one finds a kindred spirit, there's the temptation to "grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel", perhaps the more so when they're your own progeny, or - in Barrie's case - those of a lost love.