Sunday, July 13, 2008

Five best: books on father-son relationships

Alexander Waugh is the author of Fathers and Sons: The Autobiography of a Family.

For the Wall Street Journal, he came up with a five best list of books that "capture the complexities of father-son relationships."

Number One on his list:
Father and Son
By Edmund Gosse
Scribner's, 1907

Sir Edmund Gosse (1849-1928), an eminent man of letters and a distant relation of mine, first brought the Waughs to literature by arranging my great-grandfather's first job, as a publisher's reader, in the 1890s. His "Father and Son" is a touching and original work in which he chronicles his relationship with his father, Philip Henry Gosse, a botanist and fundamentalist Christian. "With me," Gosse senior once said, "every question assumes a Divine standpoint and is not adequately answered if the judgement-seat of Christ is not kept in sight." This was the same person who invented the Creationist defense against Darwin according to which God made fossils only as a ploy to test the faith of mankind. Edmund was "ground to powder" by his father's relentless religiosity and eventually rejected it. The book outlines a terrible clash of personalities in a chilling account of a miserable, pious Victorian upbringing.
Read about the other books on Waugh's list.

--Marshal Zeringue