THINGS PAST by Malcolm Muggeridge


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Memories, manifestos, and maledictions of a 20th-century prophet. Hunter has sifted through almost 50 years of Muggeridgeana, and put together a generous anthology of this witty, irascible, and passionately opinionated writer. Muggeridge has had a colorful career, as a teacher in India, a foreign correspondent in Moscow in the early 1930s, a spy in World War II, as editor of Punch, and most recently an unorthodox lay preacher and modern-day Jeremiah. He can chat entertainingly about Chesterton, Kipling, or Harold Ross, and reminisce about de Gaulle, whom he once interviewed, or Kim Philby, whom he knew intimately. But Muggeridge seems most himself when he climbs into the pulpit and starts to pound it, raining Swiftian indignation down on the heads of his enemies--foggy-minded liberals, canting politicians, and materialists of every stripe. He rages with peculiar force against the brainless enormities of consumerism … l'am≤ricaine. ""What a gilded sty has been devised!"" he cries out in one intemperate passage, ""What ambrosial fodder! What perfumed rutting, melodious orgasmic grunts, down straw and succulent swill!"" Though he hedges about calling himself a Christian, Muggeridge has deep affinities with Augustine and Pascal, and makes a thoroughly convincing Nco-Puritan. Even unbelievers may find his ferocious sermons bracing. Every now and then his invective gets out of control, as in ""The Great Liberal Death Wish"" (1970), where he lashes out at everyone from anti-war protestors (""tousled, tangled, bearded baboons"") to trendy worshippers (when, he wonders, will they add LSD and stripteasing to their liturgy). At his worst Muggeridge is an amusing crank, but he never bores or plays favorites. And at his best he's a devilishly accurate, marvelously astringent social critic.

Pub Date: April 26th, 1979
Publisher: Morrow