Evening Standard’s Waugh Twofer

The Evening Standard reviews a book by David Kynaston and Francis Green of UCL entitled Engines of Privilege: Britain’s Private Education Problem. According to the review by Ann McElvoy:

What interests these two centre-Left writers is the degree of insulation that a private education brings. Evelyn Waugh put it with (public school) languor in Decline and Fall: “One goes through four or five years of perfect hell at an age when life is bound to be hell, anyway, and after that, the social system never lets one down.” […]

The article goes on to conclude:

At its best, Engines of Privilege reminds us that many arguments recur down the decades. Yet exclusive education is only superior as long as it does better than the other kind. The best London state schools now beat their private neighbours on admissions to top universities. More of that, better investment in the development of teachers and a consistent policy on improving schools are better solutions than the long-threatened clampdown on private schools. They would, as philosopher and headmistress Mary Warnock once put it, probably find yet another “ingenious dodge” to beat the rap anyway.

The Standard also has a review of the new collection of Auberon Waugh’s writings, A Scribbler in Soho. This is by Melanie McDonagh who describes the book, edited by Naim Attallah as:

…an odd book, neither an outright anthology nor biography nor memoir, but something of all three, in which [Attallah] describes in detail all the events of Waugh’s career with which he was involved, especially as the proprietor of the persistently loss-making Literary Review, which Waugh edited. There’s too much space given to libel actions but we do get lots of his pieces, which remain subversive, funny and often to the point. He couldn’t survive now, and that, you know, reflects badly on us.

Auberon at one time wrote book reviews for the Evening Standard of a quite high quality, but none of these is collected in this book so far as has been revealed in this or previous reviews.


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