Louis Auchincloss has carved himself a niche as the novelistic chronicler of a small but influential group in American life—the upper classes of New York. He was born into the group and has served it, as an attorney, for most of his life.
In A Writer’s Capital Auchincloss wryly describes his own experiences growing up and finding a place in that group. His view of life was shaped within the narrow confines of the class in which he came of age: He believed that his family was not rich because they had maids but no butlers. His father’s work at the practice of law eventually led to several nervous breakdowns, while his mother lived in the enforced idleness of the rich women of her time. Therefore, Auchincloss thought of women as a privileged group, while men were born to slave and suffer. As a child, he was aware of the pervasive anti-Semitism of his parents’ social set, but saw it as merely another of those mysterious rules of the adult world that would be explained to him when he came of age. He saw no prejudice against African Americans because there were none in his world, not even as servants.
After a few tolerable years in an elementary school that was beginning a rapid decline, he was sent to Groton, the classic New England prep school which was to form the basis of his best-known novel, The Rector of Justin (1964). Auchincloss is at pains to inform the reader that its protagonist was based more on the famed...
(The entire section is 409 words.)