Angus Wilson was once celebrated for his clear-eyed interrogations of moral behaviour and fretful liberalism, so how did he end up penniless in a French apartment block? DJ Taylor on a cautionary tale of a writer who lost touch with his timeTwenty-eight years ago this month, BBC’s Newsnight offered its audience a bona fide literary sensation. So inimical to him had conditions in Thatcher’s Britain now become, it declared, that one of our greatest living novelists had opted for self-imposed exile. There followed an extended camera-shot of Sir Angus Wilson – damson-faced, snow-haired and looking as if he had enjoyed quite a decent lunch – gravely descending the front steps of the Athenaeum to inform the waiting interviewer that he had had enough. He was insufficiently appreciated. He had always loved France, and the French had a greater respect for writers than the benighted English. He would go, in the words of his loyal biographer, Margaret Drabble, “where he was wanted”.It was not, all things considered, one of Wilson’s better performances. There was talk of empty gestures and thrown-in towels. Even his friends thought the sight of this quintessentially establishment figure – knight of the realm, president of the Royal …read more

Via: The Guardian | Books