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A Little Learning: The First Volume of an Autobiography
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A Little Learning: The First Volume of an Autobiography

3.87  ·  Rating Details ·  151 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
A Little Learning The author's childhood was warm, bright and serene. The Hampstead and Lancing schooldays which followed were sometimes agreeable, but often not. His life at Oxford - which he evokes in Brideshead Revisited - was essentially a catalogue of friendship. This title presents a portrait of his recollection of those hedonistic days. Full description
paper, 234 pages
Published August 5th 2010 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published 1964)
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Jul 11, 2013 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Evelyn Waugh never completed his autobiography, unfortunately. This volume takes us through his first job after college, where on the last page, his attempt at suicide is thwarted by discovering jellyfish in the seawater, so of course he can't stay in. This dark humor and self-deprecation runs through his fond and wry narrative of his early years.

We meet many of the archetypes in his books, naturally, from his youth and education; much of his college experience is repeated with little change in
Mark Nenadov
This is the first and only volume of an unfinished autobiography. It masterfully covers Waugh's youth, including his genealogy, parent's life, early upbringing, school boy days, days at Oxford, and his working life as a young adult. While it isn't a book I'd re-read, it was a pleasure to read and I'm glad I read it. On rare occasions, it got slightly tedious, but there were quite a few excellent nuggets to make up for that.
3.5 stars. I love Waugh's leisurely, dry-humored, very British (to me) way of writing. His earnest recollections of his youth and adolescence in a boarding school and at Oxford, respectively, are interspersed with comments such as these:

"My predecessor in the office, Loveday, had left the university suddenly to study black magic. He died in mysterious circumstances at Cefalu in Alistair Crowley's community and his widow, calling herself 'Tiger Woman' figured for some time in the popular Press,
Oct 02, 2016 Martin rated it it was ok
Meh. Once is enough indeed! What was I expecting? Something in the same vein as his novels? At first I was like, 'Oh, too bad he never finished his autobiobraphy', but in the end, well, I'm glad this is all there is to it. It was interesting to get an insight into the author's early life (and also to learn about English schooling back then), but absolutely none of this was essential reading. For Waugh completists only.
Sherwood Smith
May 06, 2009 Sherwood Smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: autobiography
I don't know why Waugh never finished this--I strongly suspect he came up against the reality of his intense gay romances, and couldn't slide over the surface, yet of course couldn't talk about them. Anyway, for sheer beauty, the prose when he describes the various places of learning and what they meant to him are some of his very best.
Susanne Clower
I probably would have liked this more if I understood more of his references, but it was engaging enough that now I want to read a full biography. It's too bad he never finished the autobiography. It's also astonishing (to my 2016 American brain) how casually child abuse and child sexual abuse was regarded in his time/culture.
Persephone Abbott
Sep 12, 2016 Persephone Abbott rated it liked it
In my apartment I display books here and there scattered in nooks and crannies, about a hundred or so at a time. Anyone who wanders in will assume that these are my cherished possessions, but, in fact, most are not. The books on view are for the greater part volumes I have not yet read. Waugh’s autobiography winked at me from a shelf for about a year, and looking at it from time to time my appetite grew so that I launched myself into the battered almost shredded (had a moth gotten at it or a rai ...more
Aug 12, 2010 umberto rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir
I fairly enjoyed reading this memoir since, of course, there were related characters and episodes he had to describe. I think his readers can learn and know a lot of figurative words, for instance, nagging debts, Asiatics abounded, frustrated pugnacity, etc.

My Former Review:
When I first saw the book title, it reminded me of a quote by Alexander Pope, "A little learning is a dangerous thing," and I still think this is a wise one worth reflecting and thus keeping in mind to be aware of our own lea
Jan Frederik Solem
Dec 27, 2011 Jan Frederik Solem rated it it was amazing
This delightful autobiographical account of his youth, ending with Evelyn Waugh walking off after not drowning himself after all - turning back after being stung by a jellyfish - should probably be read *before* Paula Byrne's biography "Mad World". Much background to "Brideshead revisited" of course, in his own - surprisingly candid as well as witty - words. Although only mentioned in passing, I didn't know that Waugh counted G. K. Chesterton and Graham Greene among his friends. Given recent hig ...more
"Today...there are reporters of the popular papers who interview authors rather than review their work; there are the charmers of television; there are the state-trained professional critics with their harsh jargon and narrow tastes, and there are the impostors who cannot write at all, but travel from one international congress to another discussing the predicament of the writer in the modern world."

c 1968

"An artist must be a reactionary. He has to stand out against the tenor of the age and not
Oct 08, 2008 Greg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this autobiography without having read in Waugh fiction. I tremendously enjoyed it. Why this is not more highly recommended reading, I do not know. I went to Evelyn Waugh's house in Oxford, essentially only because I was there and knew his name from a joke in the movie "Lost in Translation". If that's all you know, read this book!
Sep 15, 2008 Tracy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you're into Waugh enough to want to read about his life, you'll enjoy this. He brings his characteristic wit and irony to the narration, especially in his masterful depiction of the various characters in his life, but he seems only tepidly enthusiastic about the project (which went unfinished) and it's nowhere near as much fun as his novels.
Phillip W.
Feb 09, 2014 Phillip W. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you love Waugh you will enjoy his autobiography. Such a shame memoirists like this have disappeared and a pity Waugh died before authoring subsequent volumes. Though he is discreet in his tellings, one can glean much of the man, his milieu and his many associations.
Nov 28, 2009 Mk100 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
If you're a Waugh fan, this is a real tgreat. His acerbic wit and close eye for foibles, including his own, are present throughout the book. And it is very apparent that Waugh did much more than a little learning during his youth.
Feb 12, 2012 Gordon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
I would definately recommend this to all Waugh fans.
Don't be put off by chapter one, it goes through his family tree, and although some may have enjoyed it, I found it one of the most boring things I've ever read. The rest of the book is splendid though, so I forgive him.
Gerard De bruin
Jun 15, 2015 Gerard De bruin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english, biografie
Such a pity he never finished a real biography
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Evelyn Waugh's father Arthur was a noted editor and publisher. His only sibling Alec also became a writer of note. In fact, his book “The Loom of Youth” (1917) a novel about his old boarding school Sherborne caused Evelyn to be expelled from there and placed at Lancing College. He said of his time there, “…the whole of English education when I was brought up was to produce prose writers; it was al ...more
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“Only when one has lost all curiosity about the future has one reached the age to write an autobiography.” 1 likes
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