LIKE IT WAS: The Diaries of Malcolm Muggeridge by Malcolm Muggeridge

LIKE IT WAS: The Diaries of Malcolm Muggeridge

Email this review


Why the humdrum title? And why the rush to print these excerpts (one-quarter of the complete ms.) while Muggeridge is still alive? The text hasn't been totally bowdlerized, because there are several entries about M.'s adulterous affairs in India, but readers will inevitably wonder whether they're getting a representative selection. At all events the diaries are what one would expect, the public M. and the private M. being essentially identical twins: a lively, frank, intense, alternately gruff and tender-hearted record of a very busy life. M. calls himself a ""knockabout journalist,"" and he's certainly seen more than his fair share of the world. Beginning with Moscow in the early 1930s, the diaries take us to India (1934-35), Lisbon and Lourenco Marques (1942), Washington, D.C. (1946-47), and China (1958), with lots of in-between time in England and elsewhere; they finally fade out in June, 1962. In the earlier entries M. is racked by desire and despair. He's an affable, energetic, virile, sharp-witted pagan with an Augustinian guilty conscience. Later entries show him turning away (but not quite) from the world and its madness, having at last found his roots in non-sectarian Christianity. At all times M. is a detester of cant, especially from the Left, and a merciless critic of himself and others. (""Slightly moved to read that Harold Laski had suddenly died . . . . Reflected that if he hadn't been a liar he'd have been a much more atrocious person."") Occasionally, M. plays the crusty doctrinaire (""went to see the ancient silent film Battleship Potemkin . . . . Not much good, rather to my relief; sentimental. . .""), but he feels too much passion and spiritual hunger to keep it up. A generous slice of Muggeridge--complementary, if far from equal, to his Wasted Time memoirs.

Pub Date: Feb. 4th, 1981
Publisher: Morrow