THE ROMANTIC EGOISTS by Louis Auchincloss


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A selection of shorter pieces have the worldly- as well as literary- demeanour of his novels, and are associated, not only by the first person but undemonstrative commentary of Peter Westcott, but also by the social situations which define and direct the lives here, at a boys' preparatory school, in the navy, in a New York law firm, and even abroad. And here, in a world which is established at birth and protected by appropriate affiliations and unassailable traditions, there is the occasional violation of a predetermined code of conduct. At Shirley School, ""100 years of accumulated idealism"", a boy's defense of a ""new boy"" provokes a ruthless ostracism; Arlie Kane, stigmatized by his money in school, later finds that it is a barrier in the normal pursuit of a wife- and a career; Wally's applications for shore duty- during the war- is a nagging reminder of the worst in each of them; Ellis, a commanding officer, faces the freeze of the Harvard accents of his subordinates in the wardroom; Timmy Colt, an assiduous young lawyer, is gored by a wealthy client and sacrificed to mammon... These and others reveal a caste-iron world of pressures and prejudices, conformism and contempt, and after a commentary which is as implacable as it is impeccable.

Pub Date: May 11th, 1954
Publisher: Houghton, Mifflin