Last of the Old Guard
Many years ago the novelist Alison Lurie assured me that while there was an upper class in the United States, it played very little part in the lives of most Americans: that was why Louis Auchincloss (1917–2010), the prolific author of novels about New York’s WASP ascendancy, remained an acquired taste over there. Or as an American critic once put it, ‘For all its merits, [his work] is out of context today.’ What nonsense! growled Auchincloss’s distant kinsman, Gore Vidal, when I mentioned this to him shortly afterwards. The caste to which ‘cousin Louis’ belonged, and about which he wrote so perceptively, was still firmly in the saddle, so he was doing Americans a favour by showing how their rulers behaved ‘in their banks and their boardrooms, their law offices and their clubs’.