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The Education of Oscar Fairfax Kindle Edition

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Length: 225 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this sedate and diverting fictional memoir, novelist-of-manners Auchincloss (Tales of Yesteryear) replays his favored themes: gentlemanly coping in New York society, practicing law, enjoying one's money, inspecting others' foibles. A sense of literary tradition permeates the narrative as characters revel in beloved authors: the Greeks, Wordsworth, Proust, Henry James, Edith Wharton. The title echoes the 1907 classic, The Education of Henry Adams, to point up an uneasy fit between upper-class schooling and the modern world. In chapters doubling as exemplary character studies, Oscar Fairfax, Yale grad and Wall Street attorney, fondly recalls his mentors?his Episcopal bishop grandfather and his academic masters?and how he adapted their quaint lessons to his own needs and passed his own wisdom on to chosen novices of the next generation. In the chapter "My Son, My Son," Fairfax fosters his own child's growth from shy boyhood to happy marriage. Another, "A Man's Reach," begins in elitist Bar Harbor, Maine, where Fairfax befriends the bright but resentful Max Griswold, teenage son of a hardworking hairdresser, whom he later sends to Yale and guides through life's mazes. Max's story typifies one Auchincloss model, that of the youth who rejects, then appreciates, society's values. "The Unhappy Warrior" first tracks the rise of the able but philandering lawyer who marries Fairfax's sister, then shows the woman's adjustment. Few surprises are offered here, but much satisfaction is generated as Auchincloss, in his 38th book of fiction, reliably affirms his craft, depicting the maturation of character through time.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Born into privilege at the turn of the century, Oscar Fairfax slides gracefully through life from St. Augustine's (a prestigious Episcopal school for boys) to Yale to Paris, Washington, and New York as a valued member of his father's law firm. True, there are little crises along the way?the friend who betrays a trust, the protege who goes against Oscar's principles, the son who is so principled he almost leaves the firm?but by and large Oscar's "education" is hardly a matter of earth-shattering revelations. It's gently incremental, like the novel itself; Oscar's life proceeds episodically in "chapters" that could almost stand alone as short stories. In the end, Oscar comes off as a man working slightly against the grain of his conservative background, an enlightened snob who takes up good causes for more than glory. "Do I do it to flatter myself that I am at least a good man?" he wonders, and the charm of this character?and of the novel as a whole?is that the answer to that question is not so clear-cut. An urbane, civilized read that Auchincloss fans will enjoy.
-?Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 440 KB
  • Print Length: 225 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (September 25, 1995)
  • Publication Date: September 25, 1995
  • Sold by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,557,194 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By S. Smith-Peter on June 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is a book about how the system is almost always stronger than the individual. Given the American focus on rugged individualism, this is almost subversive, which is ironic, given that the titular character, Oscar Fairfax, is the embodiment of the Establishment (WASP, well-bred, old New York family). In each story, a character comes up against the Establishment and finds they have to compromise. I title this the charm of the Establishment because the process is not about threats or violence, but about what the characters have to gain (and it is a lot) by conforming. The language is deliberately flat, but the message is very interesting.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Harlen on March 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book after the author's death this year. I met him some years back and heard him speak. He was quite gracious and inscribed a copy of his latest book. This book is stronger than East Side stories which I also just finished. I would recommend it without question although in the end I wasn't quite sure what Oscar was up to. What do you think?
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By Karen Toney on February 5, 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
read enough to get the drift
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