Literary Family Rivalries

Booksellers Barnes & Noble have posted a list of rivalries within literary families. The Waugh family makes the list:

Evelyn, Auberon, and Alec Waugh
Evelyn Waugh is one of the most celebrated writers of all time, with books like Brideshead Revisited lodged firmly in the global imagination. Many have forgotten that there was a time when his older brother Alec was the more famous writer; The Loom of Youth made a huge splash in 1917, and Alec continued to publish throughout his life, even as his younger brother overtook him in reputation. When Alec’s novel Island in the Sun became a big hit 40 years after Loom, Evelyn damned it with faint praise, saying it was “rather good if you think of it as being by an American, which he is really” (trust us when we say Evelyn Waugh describing you as “American” was a terrible insult). Evelyn’s son Auberon summed up the family’s opinion of Alec’s literary output with the Britishly savage quip that Alec “wrote many books, each worse than the last.” As with all things British, you kind of have to translate that through a Sick Burn Filter to get a real sense of just how brutal a takedown it was meant to be.

Others on the list include Kingsley and Martin Amis (father/son), Margaret Drabble and A S Byatt (siblings) and Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath (husband/wife). Except for Sylvia Plath, they were all British. Comments welcome on what a “Sick Burn Filter” might be?

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