by Angus Wilson, introduction by Jane Smiley
Gerald Middleton is a sixty-year-old self-proclaimed failure. Worse than that, he's "a failure with a conscience." As a young man, he was involved in an archaeological dig that turned up an obscene idol in the coffin of a seventh-century bishop and scandalized a generation. The discovery was in fact the most outrageous archaeological hoax of the century, and Gerald has long known who was responsible and why. But to reveal the truth is to risk destroying the world of cozy compromises that, personally as well as professionally, he has long made his own.
One of England's first openly gay novelists, Angus Wilson was a dirty realist who relished the sleaze and scuffle of daily life. Slashingly satirical, virtuosically plotted, and displaying Dickensian humor and nerve, Anglo-Saxon Attitudes features a vivid cast of characters that includes scheming academics and fading actresses, big businessmen toggling between mistresses and wives, media celebrities, hustlers, transvestites, blackmailers, toadies, and even one holy fool. Everyone, it seems, is either in cahoots or in the dark, even as comically intrepid Gerald Middleton struggles to maintain some dignity while digging up a history of lies.
After Evelyn Waugh, what? The answer is Angus Wilson, a master of mimicry, diction, intention and wit.
— Edmund Wilson
One of the five greatest novels of the century.
— Anthony Burgess
...[B]rilliant and ambitious...In every generation one or two novelists revise the conventional picture of English character. Mr. Wilson does this.
— V.S. Pritchett, New Statesman and Nation
It's Dickens for the smart set, or Edmund Wilson with a dash of savage silliness.
— Susan Salter Reynolds, The Los Angeles Times
So read this splendid novel and you will find yourself not only entertained and at times vastly amused, but actually wiser about human nature. You will not only experience vicariously some interesting slices of postwar English life, but you will be conducted into a world of fine moral and ethical distinctions, which are this novelist's particular forte. Much wisdom and humanity are to be found in the pages of Anglo-Saxon Attitudes.
—Martin Rubin, The Washington Times