Critical Context

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Almost all important English male writers of this era attended a university, or could have done so. Pritchett’s formal education stopped when he was fifteen; he achieved his status by himself. Many of these writers have written personal accounts: J. B. Priestley, Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene. Pritchett’s is unique, not only in that it is notably unself-centered and has no ax to grind, but also in that it tells about a truly lower-class life. Unlike George Orwell, Pritchett lived naturally among the poor. His experience enabled him to rival Charles Dickens and Arnold Bennett in some of his lower-class scenes; his rendition of office life resembles those in the early novels of H. G. Wells and in D. H. Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers (1913).

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Although one reviewer called reading this volume a “depressing experience” because Pritchett appeared to say that his “childhood was not worth having,” most critics agree that A Cab at the Door is exceedingly evocative, captivating, and well written. One critic called it “one of the half-dozen autobiographies of our time which are works of art.”

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