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


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Carroll & Graf Pub; 1st Carroll & Graf ed edition (June 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786705191
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786705191
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #388,485 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

One senses Waugh doesn't really want his readers to answer the question in his title, because for many it won't do! Those without knowledge of or interest in English literary publications and feuds therein will wonder at so many tempests in such tiny teacups, and those put off by English upper-class pretensions will get an overdose. This eldest son of the curmudgeonly novelist Evelyn Waugh (Brideshead Revisited), who died in 1966, tries to have it both ways: he seems to want the spotlight as a famous man's son, but he also wants his own talent and mordant wit to be judged solely on merit. He tells a rather sad tale. It seems Evelyn Waugh didn't much care for his children, asserting in his diaries that they wouldn't be his first concern in a house fire. His son also claims that his father felt entitled "to advertise an acute and unqualified dislike of [his six children]." This particular Waugh has wandered around the world and written five novels, many book reviews and hundreds of acerbic, often witty columns for periodicals like the Spectator, Private Eye and the New Statesman. This possibly first installment of his autobiography was published in 1991 in the U.K. While offering juicy gossip for aficionados, it seems unlikely that U.S. readers in general will find the book sufficiently interesting. Photos.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In the "Apologia" to this interminable, name-dropping memoir, Auberon Waugh (b. 1939), editor of London's Literary Review, columnist for the Daily Telegraph, author, and son of writer Evelyn Waugh (1903-66) ponders his motives for writing his autobiography. Except during rare moments of limited insight into his curmudgeonly father, the reader remains just as perplexed. In spite of Auberon's somewhat disingenuous self-effacement, his desire for his father's approval, not forthcoming during the elder's lifetime, is apparent. The best portions of the book, which involve descriptions of Auberon's early career as a journalist and novelist, unfortunately, do not comprise the bulk of the memoir. Though smartly written and dryly humorous, this insider's look at British upper-class life, replete with nicknames like Toady, Slimy, and Pips, tales of Oxford, and near-deadly pranks in the army could only appeal to the most ardent Anglophile.?Diane Gardner Premo, Rochester P.L., NY
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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3.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Jay Dickson VINE VOICE on April 23, 2001
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.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By "hurburgh" on January 25, 2001
Format: Hardcover
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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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 6, 1999
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."
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By R. Hossain on October 6, 2005
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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 7, 1998
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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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas Martin on September 7, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Waugh was not only the best journalist of his generation, but also the funniest to boot. This book is a glorious romp through a life which added greatly to the gaiety of a nation.
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