Louis Auchincloss, author of prep-school classic “The Rector of Justin,” plus many novels and stories set among New York’s Old Money, died Tuesday night. The New York Times’ coverage is here.
And from 2008, The Washington Post’s book critic Jonathan Yardley looks back on “Justin.”
Great article. I had picked up “Rector of Justin” a while ago, but dropped it (I’d just read 3 old-school novels in a row and needed a break). Now I’m going to go back and pick up “East Side Story” instead. Thanks for posting this.
Eric, what else have you been reading?
He’s an acquired taste, to be sure. Sometimes I figure if I want something that sedate I might as well just read Henry James, the original. But he’s a rare figure in American letters and ultimately wins you over; it’s especially interesting to read his historical works, where you’re aware that he’s writing about a world that’s long vanished. You don’t get that sense of loss and distance in James.
Always enjoyed Auchincloss. For those who have no read him the short stories are a good place to start.
I haven’t had much time to read lately. As a high school English teacher and father of two, my time isn’t exactly my own. The novels I was referring to were Tobias Wolff’s “Old School” and Richard Yates “The Good School” and “Revolutionary Road” (not really about a school, but still in the same, depressing, preppy vein). I read Wolff’s because it was discussed on this site. I think Yates’ was as well, but can’t remember.
A couple others that might be interesting, although not strictly “Ivy League” would be Meredith Nicholson’s “Lords of High Decision” (not sure if you can even find it in print, I read a 1910 copy) and “The Magnificent Ambersons” by Booth Tarkington. They both deal with old money, etc. Neither of these are great lit., but they are interesting snap-shots of a time now gone.
“Ambersons” is certainly a great movie. I love when George is asked what he wants to be, and he says, “a yachtsman.”
Wow…hard to believe there won’t be any more novels or anthologies. He was really the last of a breed of writers. RIP.
Apart from “Rector of Justin”, which of his titles would you recommend? I’ve reserved “East Side Story” because I thought the generational story of a family coming up and dealing with society sounded interesting. Are there others that anyone’s read that stand out?
“A World of Profit” is of my favorites.
Well, I finished “East Side Story”. It was okay. Hopefully, his other novels go a little more in depth. It was a good “primer” to the blue-bloods. It was interesting to get a dynastic perspective on this culture.
What do you mean by dynastic?
It’s hard to remember what I meant, but I think it’s interesting how the culture is passed down from generation to generation and how it became (becomes) something different for each generation (that’s a lot of generations…).
On another note, I’ve just picked up “The Late George Apley” by Marquand and it is great! Marquand’s name had been floating around out there for me for awhile, but I hadn’t picked up one of his novels. I really enjoy the pride the narrator takes in this close-knit community. It also is an incredibly warm novel so far. So many times, this culture gets a pretty cool treatment (maybe because they are written about by outsiders), but Marquand makes them feel very fresh and alive. They are very human, which is refreshing. It makes me feel that I’ve been allowed to not only peek behind the curtain, but to actually come in and have a drink.