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Anglo-Saxon Attitudes

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  321 ratings  ·  28 reviews
An Angus Wilson revival is underway with the joint publication of Margaret Drabble's biography Angus Wilson and this reissue of Wilson's most brilliant work. First published to phenomenal success in 1956, Anglo-Saxon Attitudes is the complex story of a 60-year-old man and the failed elements of his life. Wilson depicts social relationships of English society with an unexpe ...more
Paperback, 347 pages
Published May 1st 1996 by St. Martin's Press (first published 1956)
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Feb 12, 2013 Lobstergirl rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: buskers
Shelves: own, nyrb, fiction

Anthony Burgess blurbed that this was one of the five greatest novels of the [20th] century! I didn't see it, myself.

I had no idea what the book was about when I bought it. I was sucked in by that NYRB cover and John Tenniel's delightful Through the Looking Glass illustration. Once inside, I was pleased to find that the story took place within academia's sordid walls and involved an archeological excavation - a priapic wooden fertility idol is found in the tomb of a 7th century Christian bishop,
The star of the show is estranged wife Inge. She's a Northern European dream ... if she didn't invent the Moomins, then it must have been someone very like her. I love that she's happy to be nice to her son's thieving labourer, but is all hysterical when anyone suggests that it isn't just "Radio Times" and cups of cocoa when they climb into bed together. I love her social democracy and her snobbishness. I love how infuriating and exasperating she is. I really love her little deals with God.

Roderick Hart
It is clear that the author had big ambitions for this book. One sign is the cast list at the beginning. There are numerous references to the excavation at Melpham, and the lengthy appendix on this subject must mean it is very important. Right? So it's strange to find it isn't. The pagan artefact found in the Christian tomb had either been placed there at the time or later. It turns out to have been later, as the joke of an embittered individual. But really, all this creaking apparatus is of no ...more
The hype is that this book is one of the 20th C classic British comedies, which only increased my overall disappointment as I plowed through page by page of not funny acid. I don't know if other readers have this experience but this is a book where I constantly looked at the page numbers and did the mental arithmetic to calculate what fraction of completion I had reached and how much trudging remained (on the plus side I did spend more time practicing my fractions).

The story of itself of a hist
Wilson, Angus. ANGLO-SAXON ATTITUDES. (1956). *****.
This is a marvelous novel, which, in spite of my high rating, will certainly not be to everyone’s taste. The story is set, primarily, in England, between the two wars – although the focus of the story occurred during an archeological dig in the years 1912-1914 by Professor Stokesay, Regius Professor of English History, and an authority on the 7th century. It was during his discovery and excavation of what was found to be the tomb of Bishop Eo
This is the second of Angus Wilson's books I've read, allowing me to engage in generalizations. 1950s England, a father of adult children is having a late mid-life crisis - there is also a significant gay theme, of which Wilson was noted as an unusually frank explorer for the time. This book is also a good early example of the campus novel, following Lucky Jim by only two years.
This was such an immense fun! It took me some time to warm up to the story, because there seemed to be a tad too many characters and I couldn't tell where it was going... But then! I don't remember when I started to like it, but it might have had something to do with the appearance of Vin and his set. I liked them a lot, the lowlifes! Especially Frank.
Inge was also fun to read about, but she was scary, even more than the horrible Alice or what was his name, Ives? Now that dude was evil! But fun.

I struggled like a novice hanging wallpaper to understand the author’s reason for writing this novel, which strangely entirely failed to awaken and enthuse my interest.

I must have restarted it at least five times; every time thinking that if I could JUST maintain my concentration & get into the plot & sub-plots, then I’d be bound to enjoy it. I am instead forced to be honest, admit failure, and face up to the fact that I have no shortage of other books queued up, and which I’d prefer to
I thought when I started that this book was going to be satire, and particularly vicious satire at that. And then at some point, without my really even realizing it, there was a core of humanity that sprang up and surprised me. It made the characters more symapthetic, except the most truly awful ones (Yves, Alice Cresset), and these latter it made horrible rather than funny.

All in all, the book was a pleasant surprise. I may try some of his others.
Justin Evans
I suspect this one will gain on a second reading--it's hard for me, a late twentieth century, transplanted Australian, to really get the class issues that Wilson is, I'm pretty sure, out to examine. It's funny in places, in a very English/ironic way, and the characters are fantastic. There's not really any story, which I don't mind. And yet somehow it didn't grab me. Partly, I suspect, this is because of the ludicrously long chapters (this goes double for those particularly intellectual authors ...more
An unexpectedly entertaining treasure from the mid-20th century. Wilson wrote like I wish Jane Austen had, with droll scenes that retain realistic harsh edges, refined conversations that absolutely sizzle with conflict, and diverse settings and threads of story that entwine in a satisfying, if soap-operatic, entirety of plot. His language is slightly antiquated (so many characters "cry" instead of simply speaking) but his grasp of human foible - and his capacity for compassion towards his suprem ...more
Scott Kelly
Anglo-Saxon attitudes is one of the greatest English novels of the twentieth century. As a self-conscious attempt to revive the 19th century tradition of novel as social commentary it is far more successful than Bonfire of the Vanities. Wilson is a sadly neglected author with much to say about the human condition.
Bonnie Fazio
Apparently I read this in 1976, but wrote it down as being called "Anglo-Saxon PERSPECTIVES." As there seems to be no such book, but this is close (and by Angus Wilson), I gather this is what I actually read, and I probably wrote the name down later and remembered it incorrectly.
Richard Thomas
I loved the book when I first read it nearly 50years ago and it is still a fine read.
spectacularly class-conscious, from the other side-- and quite witty.
I enjoyed this book once I stopped trying to figure out what people were talking about, and just enjoyed the cast of characters. They were annoying, sleazy, conniving, wretched people, and so many of them I was constantly checking the handy list to keep them straight. Or not.
This was a wonderful book. I went into it thinking that it would be a pointed satire in the manner of Lucky Jim, but it is really quite a different thing altogether. With a plotline that is compelling but not overbearing, it is the perfectly realized characters that draw the reader in and invest him or her fully in what is going on. I could not have less personal experience with the middle-upper crust of mid-century British society, but I thoroughly enjoyed the book from beginning to end.
Diana Eberhardt
Another British period piece, amusing.
A Dickensian list of characters and coincidences set in 1950s London. Hilarious caricatures contrast with all-too-fresh memories of wars and concentration camps giving a mysterious air to a generation that probably didn't see their circumstances as all that unusual.
Oh I didn't want this to end. Can't do it justice with a small soundbite review.
Turns out it was adapted for TV back in 1990 - with a small part by a young Kate Winslet. Skokie library has a copy, so I'll be intrigued to watch how they tackle it.
Overall, this was a reasonably good book. He had some nice passages, but it lacked depth — or something.
In some ways the British teleplay of the book was better than the book. Which is not a good comment about a book, I think.
Bobbie Darbyshire
Some great characterisations and amusing, witty set pieces, but far, far, far too many characters and competing story threads, so I didn't care about anyone and found it a chore to read.
A quirky book - set in the early 60s in England about an eccentric family. Definitely not to everyone's taste
Vastly peopled and vastly coincidental. More to come.
An interesting study of family and academic life.
Beautifully overwritten.
The universe in this book is astounding. It is unfathomable that someone could write this.
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NYRB Classics: Anglo-Saxon Attitudes, by Angus Wilson 2 7 Oct 19, 2013 04:01PM  
  • White Man Falling
  • Before Lunch
  • The Unbearable Bassington
  • The Adventures of Gil Blas
  • Fireflies
  • The Polyglots
  • Mister Johnson
  • England, Their England
  • The Wimbledon Poisoner
  • No Bed for Bacon
  • Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House
  • Titmuss Regained
  • The Mighty Walzer
  • Molesworth
  • Towards the End of the Morning
  • The Towers of Trebizond
  • Topper Takes a Trip
  • Brewster's Millions
Sir Angus Frank Johnstone Wilson, KBE (11 August 1913 – 31 May 1991) was an English novelist and short story writer. He was awarded the 1958 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for The Middle Age of Mrs Eliot and later received a knighthood for his services to literature.

Wilson was born in Bexhill, Sussex, England, to an English father and South African mother. He was educated at Westminster School an
More about Angus Wilson...
The Old Men at the Zoo Hemlock and After The Middle Age of Mrs. Eliot Late Call The Wrong Set and other stories

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