Auchincloss, Louis 1917–
Auchincloss, Louis 1917–
(Louis Stanton Auchincloss, Andrew Lee)
Surname pronounced Auk-in-klaus; born September 27, 1917, in New York, NY; son of Joseph Howland (a corporate lawyer) and Priscilla Auchincloss; married Adele Lawrence, 1957 (deceased); children: John Winthrop, Blake Leay, Andrew Sloane. Education: Attended Yale University, 1935-39; University of Virginia Law School, LL.B., 1941. Religion: Episcopalian.
Home—New York, NY.
Lawyer and writer. Admitted to the Bar of New York State, 1941; Sullivan & Cromwell (law firm), New York, NY, associate, 1941-51; Hawkins, Delafield & Wood (law firm), New York, associate, 1954-58, partner, 1958-86. President, Museum of the City of New York; trustee, Josiah Macy, Jr., Foundation; former trustee, St. Barnard's School and New York Society Library; life fellow, Pierpont Morgan Library; former member of administrative committee, Dumbarton Oaks Research Library. Military service: U.S. Navy, 1941-45; served in Naval Intelligence and as gunnery officer; became lieutenant senior grade.
National Institute of Arts and Letters, Association of the Bar of the City of New York (former member of executive committee), Century Association, American Academy of Arts and Letters (president), Phi Beta Kappa.
D.Litt., New York University, 1974, Pace University, 1979, University of the South, 1986, State University of New York at Geneseo, 2002; New York State Governor's Art Award; National Medal of the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, 2005.
(Under pseudonym Andrew Lee) The Indifferent Children, Prentice-Hall (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1947.
Sybil, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1952.
A Law for the Lion, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1953.
The Great World and Timothy Colt, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1956.
Venus in Sparta, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1958.
Pursuit of the Prodigal, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1959.
The House of Five Talents, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1960.
Portrait in Brownstone, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1962.
The Rector of Justin, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1964.
The Embezzler, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1966.
A World of Profit, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1968.
I Come As a Thief, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1972.
The Dark Lady, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1977.
The Country Cousin, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1978.
The House of the Prophet, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1980, reprinted, with a new introduction by the author, Transaction Publishers (New Brunswick, NJ), 1991.
The Cat and the King, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1981.
Watchfires, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1982.
Exit Lady Masham, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1983.
The Book Class, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1984.
Honorable Men, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1986.
Diary of a Yuppie, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1987.
The Golden Calves, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1988.
Fellow Passengers: A Novel in Portraits, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1989.
The Lady of Situations, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1990.
Three Lives, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1993.
The Education of Oscar Fairfax, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1995.
Her Infinite Variety, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2000.
The Scarlet Letters, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2003.
East Side Story, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2004.
The Headmaster's Dilemma, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2007.
The Injustice Collectors, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1950.
The Romantic Egoists, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1954.
Powers of Attorney, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1963.
Tales of Manhattan, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1967.
Second Chance: Tales of Two Generations, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1970.
The Partners, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1974.
The Winthrop Covenant, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1976.
Narcissa and Other Fables, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1982.
Skinny Island: More Tales of Manhattan, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1987.
False Gods, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1992.
Tales of Yesteryear, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1994.
The Collected Stories of Louis Auchincloss, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1994.
The Atonement and Other Stories, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1997.
The Anniversary and Other Stories, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1999.
Manhattan Monologues, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2002.
The Young Apollo and Other Stories, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2006.
The Friend of Women and Other Stories, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 2007.
Contributor of stories to periodicals, including New Yorker, Harper's, Good Housekeeping, Town and Country, and Atlantic Monthly.
Reflections of a Jacobite (essays), Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1961.
Edith Wharton, University of Minnesota Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1961.
Ellen Glasgow, University of Minnesota Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1964.
Pioneers and Caretakers: A Study of Nine American Women Novelists, University of Minnesota Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1965.
On Sister Carrie, University of Minnesota Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1968.
Motiveless Malignity (essays), Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1969.
Henry Adams, University of Minnesota Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1971.
Edith Wharton: A Woman in Her Time (biography), Viking (New York, NY), 1972.
Richelieu (biography), Viking (New York, NY), 1972.
A Writer's Capital (autobiography), University of Minnesota Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1974.
Reading Henry James (essays), University of Minnesota Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1975.
Life, Law, and Letters: Essays and Sketches, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1979.
Persons of Consequence: Queen Victoria and Her Circle, Random House (New York, NY), 1979.
Three "Perfect Novels" and What They Have in Common (lecture; first delivered at Pierpont Morgan Library, January, 1981), Bruccoli Clark (Columbia, SC), 1981.
(Editor) Adele Florence Sloane, Maverick in Mauve: The Diary of a Romantic Age, Doubleday (New York, NY), 1983.
(Editor) Quotations from Henry James, University Press of Virginia (Charlottesville, VA), 1984.
False Dawn: Women in the Age of the Sun King, Anchor Press (New York, NY), 1985.
The Vanderbilt Era: Profiles of a Gilded Age, Scribner (New York, NY), 1989.
(Editor) Hone & Strong Diaries of Old Manhattan, Abbeville Press (New York, NY), 1989.
J.P. Morgan: The Financier as Collector, H.N. Abrams (New York, NY), 1990.
Love without Wings: Some Friendships in Literature and Politics, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1991.
(Author of text) Deborah Turbeville's Newport Remembered: A Photographic Portrait of a Gilded Past, H.N. Abrams (New York, NY), 1994.
The Style's the Man: Reflections on Proust, Fitzgerald, Wharton, Vidal, and Others, Scribner (New York, NY), 1994.
The Man Behind the Book: Literary Profiles, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1996.
Woodrow Wilson, Viking (New York, NY), 2000.
Theodore Roosevelt, Times Books (New York, NY), 2001.
Writers and Personality, University of South Carolina (Columbia, SC), 2005.
Also author of pamphlets Edith Wharton, 1961, Ellen Glasgow, 1964, and Henry Adams, 1971, all published by University of Minnesota Press. Contributor of essays to Partisan Review and Nation. Member of advisory board, Dictionary of Literary Biography.
(Editor) Edith Wharton, An Edith Wharton Reader, Scribner (New York, NY), 1965.
The Club Bedroom (one-act play; published in Esquire, December, 1966), produced on television, 1966, and Off-Off Broadway at The Playwright's Unit, 1967.
(Editor) Anthony Trollope, The Warden [and] Barchester Towers, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1966.
(Editor) Fables of Wit and Elegance, Scribner (New York, NY), 1972.
(Editor) Edith Wharton, Selected Poems, Library of America (New York, NY), 2005.
Author of four unproduced full-length plays and several one-act plays.
Although he also writes short stories and criticism, Louis Auchincloss has established himself as a highly prolific novelist of manners, the chronicler of New York City's old-money elite and those in satellite around such "aristocrats." Christian Science Monitor contributor James H. Andrews called Auchincloss "the Anthony Trollope of America's Mayflower set," praising the author for his "urbane, erudite prose … and the careful explorations of his characters' intricate psychological landscapes and of the moral quandaries they face."
It is through Henry James, however, that Auchincloss himself claims his genealogy. James Tuttleton, in a New Criterion celebration of Auchincloss at 80, reported that "Auchincloss called himself a Jacobite because so much of his youthful reading was ‘over the shoulder of Henry James.’ To read the fiction of Proust, Trollope, Meredith, Thackeray, George Eliot, and Edith Wharton in the light of the criticism, fiction, and letters of James, Auchincloss observed, is to be exposed to the full range of possibility for the novel of manners, ‘to be conducted through the literature of [James's] time, English, American, French and Russian, by a kindly guide of infinitely good manners, who is also infinitely discerning, tasteful and conscientious.’ James, for Auchincloss, has been a ‘starting point,’ a ‘common denominator.’" Tuttleton went on to observe that "once started, Auchin- closs has always gone his own way—often qualifying and contesting, as well as defining and enlarging, the social insights of the nineteenth-century novelist of manners."
While some critics have found fault with Auchincloss for writing almost exclusively about one class of people, others have commended him for, as Tuttleton put it, quoting Anthony Burgess, "the power with which [his] fiction ‘presents the real twentieth century world, very sharply, very simply, very elegantly.’" Tuttleton continued: "We cannot fully understand the workings of power in the United States—legal, financial, and social—without attending to his fiction, as Gore Vidal has rightly observed." A Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook: 1980 contributor observed how Auchincloss's choice of genre has affected his popularity, noting that his reputation as a writer "has been influenced by factors somewhat external to it. Both the novel of manners and the fictional characters called WASPs are not fashionable."
Sandra Salmans reported in the New York Times that "some academics and publishers praise him as one of the few authors who write about the business world with a real understanding of its complexities and conflicts." Michael Upchurch, reviewing Auchinchloss's 2002 volume of short stories, Manhattan Monologues in the Seattle Times, took it a step further, writing: "Still, there's a sense in Manhattan Monologues—sharper than in his previous work—that beyond these individual dramas Auchincloss is training his eye on a larger picture: the century-long struggle between totalitarianism, socialism and capitalism that has unfolded in his lifetime. Capitalism clearly is the victor, but he is nothing if not cautionary about where its excesses can lead—which makes Auchincloss, who is sometimes regarded as an old-fashioned writer in his method and content, suddenly feel like a crucial voice of the post-Enron Zeitgeist. Perhaps, decades after his 1960s heyday, his time has come once again."
Auchincloss writes about Manhattan and its wealthy denizens because he himself can lay claim to such a background. The son of a successful attorney, he grew up in a life of privilege, attending the exclusive Groton School and Yale University. Aware that he wanted to be a writer and somewhat uncomfortable among the elite, he nevertheless left Yale after three years and took a law degree at the University of Virginia. After serving in the Navy during World War II he returned to New York City, where he worked as a trust and estate attorney for nearly forty years. A great many of his fifty-plus titles were written while he worked for a Wall Street law firm. According to Morris Dickstein in the Times Literary Supplement, Auchincloss's "work on wills and trusts, separation and divorce, gave him access to his characters' business as well as social lives. He got to know Wall Street as [Henry] James wished to but never did, and focused on money as much as on manners, betraying his class simply by writing about it."
The family as a social unit is important to Auchincloss's novels, many of which are multi-generational sagas. The House of Five Talents, which New York Herald Tribune Book Review contributor E.C. Dunn called "the story of human beings, their complexity, their insecurity, [and] their magnificent failure to grasp and hold the full meaning of life," takes an originally middle-class New York family from 1873 to 1948, from a social-climbing grandfather to his heiress granddaughter. In another novel, Portrait in Brownstone, the author relates the history of the Denison family from the turn of the century to 1951. Granville Hicks stated in the Saturday Review that Auchincloss "tells the story in a neat, dry style that repeatedly gives great pleasure." Hicks continued: "What distinguishes the novel is its subtlety." As Fanny Butcher wrote in the Chicago Tribune: "The warmth of the family ties, the family traditions make the novel a happy reading experience." Butcher went on to write that "when Portrait in Brownstone is good it is very good. The author has a sensitive eye for human foibles, a sensitive ear for conversation, and a sensitive mind that ferrets out human emotions." Citing an occasionally disjointed plot, however, Butcher added: "If the book were more technically cohesive, it would be a fine novel instead of just a good one."
With The Rector of Justin, which critics regard as one of his best works, Auchincloss relates the story of Francis Prescott through the testimony of friends, coworkers, and relations. Hicks explained in another issue of the Saturday Review that the subject of The Rector of Justin "does not seem to promise excitement—the octogenarian headmaster of a small private school—and yet I was swept along by it, for the revelation of Prescott's character is fascinating." Hicks also wrote: "We do come to feel the reality, the complicated reality, of Francis Prescott." On the other hand, Tuttleton noted that "Auchincloss's dramatic technique in this ‘conventional novel of character’ creates a built-in ambiguity comparable to that of James's The Awkward Age or, for that matter, to Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom!" The House of the Prophet also uses the testimony of other characters to portray Felix Leitner (based, some critics have claimed, on editor and journalist Walter Lippmann), a lawyer, columnist, and public figure, who, in his later years, leaves his wife and betrays his best friend. While admitting that Auchincloss's style and "formal prose [are] so well crafted, so consistent, and so entertaining that you forgive him lapses you wouldn't forgive in a less talented writer," Christian Science Monitor reviewer Anne Bernays contended that "the people in this novel … don't really breathe; they carry ideas, rather than blood, in their veins." However, Times Literary Supplement contributor Charles Wheeler wrote of the novel as "a taut and elegant study of a distinguished American whose closest friends cannot decide whether they like or detest him."
Two of Auchincloss's novels from the 1980s draw on his own background. In The Book Class, he exposes the power held by "unliberated" upper-class New York City wives in the early twentieth century. The story shows the inner workings of a book club's members; the tale is related by the son of the now-deceased founder, through the reminiscences of surviving members. Washington Post Book World contributor Jonathan Yardley claimed that while the women "get affectionate and clear-eyed tribute in The Book Class … Auchincloss never manages to make the reader care about them; they never seem to matter, to be of real consequence, and thus in the end neither does the book. Intelligent and craftsmanlike though it is, The Book Class is Auchincloss going through the motions, sticking to his last." With Honorable Men, Auchincloss attempted "to come to grips with a long-standing American obsession—how the values, if not the beliefs, of our Puritan forefathers still permeate some of their descendants, and what is won and lost by adhering to them," wrote A.R. Gurney in the New York Times Book Review. According to Yardley in the Washington Post, Honorable Men is "a novel about politics, but in no way is it a political novel. What concerns Auchincloss is … what shaped the men who determined the nature of [America's role in Vietnam] and pressed their cause even against clamorous public opinion. He is considering in fiction, in other words, the same men whom David Halberstam analyzed journalistically in The Best and the Brightest." And while Gurney saw "a tendency toward stuffiness in the writing that can occasionally settle over the book like dust," he added that with Honorable Men, "Auchincloss adds a significant work to his long and considerable canon."
Diary of a Yuppie focuses on antihero Robert Service, a man determined to succeed in the world of corporate takeovers and double crosses. As with some of his other books, Diary of a Yuppie prompted critics to compare Auchincloss to famous predecessors. According to London Times contributor Andrew Sinclair: "Not since rereading [Fitzgerald's] The Great Gatsby have I felt a whole new class so economically taken apart…. [Diary of a Yuppie is] the most significant novel Mr. Auchincloss has written in his distinguished career."
Critics also consider the author a skilled short-story writer. Skinny Island: More Tales of Manhattan involves a frequently implemented Auchincloss technique: that of revolving a collection of short stories around a central theme, in this case the "skinny island" of Manhattan. Paul Gray in Time suggested another unifying link: "The pieces are not just connected chronologically and geographically but by a common concern as well: the dilemma faced by comfortable people when they must choose between honor and expediency." Washington Post Book World contributor James K. Glassman commented that the work "conveys the insular, claustrophobic, dignified and rigid world that obsesses Auchincloss: Old New York." Glassman continued: "The death of society has always been one of Auchincloss's themes, but regular readers will find him here utterly pessimistic, his irony turned to cynicism. This writing on the edge of despair gives Skinny Island an urgency and an emotional kick that bring it close to his best books."
A story collection that also stands as a novel, Fellow Passengers: A Novel in Portraits reveals that the rich "are no different, emotionally or morally, from the rest of us; they just have money left in their checking accounts at the end of the month," according to Edward Hawley in Chicago's Tribune Books. Hawley advocated: "Readers familiar with Auchincloss's rich body of work will find much pleasure in Fellow Passengers, which is full of his characteristic insight and irony. For those who aren't, this is a good place to start."
Auchincloss once told CA that his retirement from law in 1986 gave him "lots more time to write … perhaps too much time." He has continued to produce novels, stories, biographies, and criticism, working most often with the publisher Houghton Mifflin. His 1990 novel The Lady of Situations was well received by critics, including Linda Gray Sexton, who described the book in the New York Times Book Review as "another stinging critique of American society and its poisonous snobbery." Gray Sexton added that the novel "has much in common with other distinguished novels of manners and mores: first impressions cannot be trusted, it tells us, and unexamined impulses can prove treacherous."
In the fictitious but loosely autobiographical The Education of Oscar Fairfax, published in 1995, a Yale graduate and Wall Street attorney reminisces about the important people and pivotal events in his life. A Publishers Weekly contributor praised the work as "sedate and diverting," concluding that the novel "reliably affirms [Auchincloss's] craft, depicting the maturation of character through time."
Auchincloss continues to write, and another novel, Her Infinite Variety, was published in 2000. It is the story of what an attractive and determined woman must do to progress in the mid-20th century business world. Literal Mind Web site commentator Erin Stringer praised the language of the book but missed a deeper glimpse into the mind and feelings of Clara Hoyt, the protagonist. Carolyn See in the Washington Post declared that the heroine "isn't very infinite and doesn't have much variety. In fact, Auchincloss has invented his Clara as a bit of a self-absorbed fiend. Is he being ironic, wicked or simply accurate? At some level, as America's most refined storyteller and most delicate dinosaur, the author remains remarkably opaque in his intentions." New York Times contributor Megan Harlan saw too much of the soap opera in the fast-paced novel and concluded that "Clara seem[s] like merely the shiniest cog in this glittering yet mechanical tale of money, power and changing mores." Carey Seale, however, in the Yale Review of Books, noted that "from A Law for the Lion, which depicts socialite Eloise Dilworth's divorce from her unfeeling husband and her consequent ostracism, to 2000's Her Infinite Variety, which follows Clara Hoyt, daughter of a Yale college master, as she rises from New Haven obscurity through several marriages and her own considerable ingenuity to command a publishing empire, Auchincloss's novels constitute an admiring chronicle of the ways in which the women of prefeminist Old New York were able to achieve some measure of autonomy and, indeed, to take a central place in the city's cultural and artistic life."
In the short-story collection The Anniversary and Other Stories, Auchincloss's "mastery is apparent throughout," argued Patrick Sullivan in Library Journal. "These nine previously unpublished stories feature the author's usual preoccupations: the WASP aristocracy confronting moral dilemmas in the boardrooms, prep schools and churches of Manhattan, Westchester and Newport from the Gilded Age to the present," commented a Publishers Weekly contributor. Though the Publishers Weekly contributor found the stories dated, Mary Ellen Quinn in Booklist claimed that Auchincloss's themes are universal, and that it is "easy to get lost in the author's elegant and restrained prose."
Auchincloss has also drawn commendations for his ability to portray the feelings and aspirations of women. "It is when he writes from the point of view of women, … rather than about their function from the strategic vantage point of men, that Auchincloss is at his best," declared Andrew Delbanco in a New Republic review of the author's Three Lives. "[Auchincloss] is on key when he follows the slowly dying spirit of rebellion in rich girls growing up in a world that still honors the principle of dowry. From the first kiss, they are handled with an air of possession by men who seek to purchase them as tickets to social position, and later we see them submitting—sometimes bitterly, sometimes with dignity—to the fact that they are thickening and losing their youth before the desire of their man subsides. It is through such Jamesian portraits of women that Auchincloss best conveys the hurt that sooner or later afflicts even his insulated rich—the … discovery that the self is worthless when separated from what it owns."
In 1994 Auchincloss released a collection of his favorite short stories, written over four decades. Chicago's Tribune Books reviewer Judith Wynn noted that The Collected Stories of Louis Auchincloss confirms the author's wisdom in writing about a subject matter some have deemed too exclusive and remote from modern concerns. "His bankers and heiresses gleam with drama and wit," the critic wrote. "His boardrooms, salons and business clubs bask in an affectionately ironic glow. Even his snootiest, least likeable characters are granted their distinctive moments of integrity and insight." Wynn continued: "Auchincloss's elegant prose and his clear-eyed moral acuity reveal the convoluted beauty of an intense social world that is sometimes mistakenly regarded as too WASPy, too exclusive, to interest readers of serious contemporary fiction. The Collected Stories makes that fading old Ivy League empire sparkle again, and it may well win this remarkable author the wider audience he deserves."
Further short-story collections have followed: The Atonement and Other Stories (published on the occasion of Auchincloss's eightieth birthday) of which Tuttleton remarked: "some sense of the volume is suggested by Auchincloss's recurrent themes: advancing age, moral retrospection, the decline of the WASPs, and the desire to atone for past ills and, toward the end, to set things straight"; Manhattan Monologues appeared in 2002, and, according to Michael Upchurch in the Seattle Times: "In its pages, you can trace the changes in American sexual, marital, legal and corporate manners over the course of a century. If you're wondering what sort of people unleashed the hostile-merger craze on Wall Street or casually moved vast numbers of American industrial jobs overseas, Auchincloss can tell you. If you're speculating about the rules of adultery among our nation's elite in, say, 1937, he can tell you that too." As Reg Stout pointed out in the Journal Sentinel Online: "In these ten highly nuanced portraits, all infected with a Jamesian sense of language, Auchincloss turns to a select group of narrators—attorneys, bankers, diplomats, society matrons and sportsmen—engaged in a private monologue with readers as a way of explaining the true nature of their class."
As well as novels and short stories, Auchincloss has written well-received biographies (Edith Wharton, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Cardinal Richelieu, Henry Adams, for instance), an autobiography, literary criticism, historical sketches, essays, and he has edited books of other writers' works. Carey Seale, writing in the Yale Review, perhaps understood the source of Auchincloss's difficulties especially with popular reviewers when she wrote: "As one might surmise from the list of his nonfiction works … his roots lie instead in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, in an age dominated, especially in France, by the neoclassical ideals of order, economy, and lucidity. It is these ideals that give shape to Auchincloss's work, and he is indeed, as Hortense Calisher has observed, a ‘classicist’ at heart. Perhaps, then, it is his close attachment to his intellectual antecedents that explains his declining popularity."
Auchincloss has continued to produce novels, short stories, and nonfiction. In his novel The Scarlet Letters, Auchincloss tells the story of Amrose Vollard, a distinguished New York lawyer, and his family. Vollard's life seems perfect except that he has no son. When his daughter Vinnie marries Rodman Jessup, he becomes the son that Vollard always wanted. However, when Rod's friend Harry Hammersly appears on the scene, Vinnie, Rod, and even Amrose find themselves caught up in situations involving dishonesty and revenge. Robin Nesbitt, writing in Library Journal, noted that the author "has created a short tale of deceit, ambition, and disloyalty among the scions of society." Jennifer Armstrong, writing in Entertainment Weekly, noted the author's talent for "keenly observing how social status and morality interact."
East Side Story is a novel about the Carnochans, a fictional Scottish family who comes to American in the nineteenth century and prospers through a textile business in New York. The author tells the various family members' stories throughout the generations. In a review in Booklist, Margaret Flanagan called the novel "another illuminating historical glimpse into the rarified world of Manhattan's high society." Patrick Sullivan, writing in the Library Journal, wrote: "This is the kind of novel that Auchincloss renders with supreme skill."
In Writers and Personality, the author presents a collection of critical essays aimed at the nonacademic reader. The author primarily delves into writers and how their personalities influence their work, including authors such as Henry James, George Meredith, the Bronte sisters, and Marcel Proust. Brad Hooper, writing in Booklist, noted that the author's "ideas are couched in eloquent language that is free of jargon." A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that Writers and Personality "is suffused with Auchincloss's thoughtful, appreciative readings."
Auchincloss has also continued to produce short stories and plays. Library Journal contributor Patrick Sullivan called The Young Apollo and Other Stories an "elegant new collection of short fiction [that] continues his unflinching examination" of New York's social elite. The Friend of Women and Other Stories features five previously unpublished stories and a one-act play. Most of the stories focus on life in the mid-twentieth century and touch upon topics such as how a teacher influenced his students for both good and bad, McCarthyism and communism, and Auchincloss's pervasive themes concerning the rich and their self-absorption. Booklist contributor Margaret Flanagan noted that the stories contain "twists, turns, and gently humorous surprises."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Auchincloss, Louis, A Writer's Capital, University of Minnesota Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1974.
Bryer, Jackson R., Louis Auchincloss and His Critics: A Bibliographical Record, G.K. Hall (Boston, MA), 1979.
Dictionary of Literary Biography Yearbook: 1980, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1981.
Gelderman, Carol W., Louis Auchincloss: A Writer's Life, Crown (New York, NY), 1993.
Tuttleton, James A., A Fine Silver Thread: Essays on American Writing and Criticism, Ivan R. Dee (Chicago, IL), 1998.
Booklist, May 15, 1999, Mary Ellen Quinn, review of The Anniversary and Other Stories, p. 1666; February 15, 2000, Whitney Scott, review of Portrait in Brownstone, p. 1127; April 15, 2000, Mary Carroll, review of Woodrow Wilson, p. 1518; June 1, 2000, Donna Seaman, review of Her Infinite Variety, p. 1847; April 15, 2001, review of Woodrow Wilson, p. 1574; November 15, 2001, Gilbert Taylor, review of Theodore Roosevelt, p. 543; June 1, 2002, Mary Ellen Quinn, review of Manhattan Monologues, p. 1677; August, 2003, "Upcoming in Upfront-Fiction," p. 1928; October 1, 2003, Mary Ellen Quinn, review of The Scarlet Letters, p. 298; November 1, 2004, Margaret Flanagan, review of East Side Story, p. 462; June 1, 2005, Brad Hooper, review of Writers and Personality, p. 1741; February 1, 2007, Margaret Flanagan, review of The Friend of Women and Other Stories, p. 29.
Chicago Tribune, July 15, 1962, Fanny Butcher, review of Portrait in Brownstone.
Christian Science Monitor, May 7, 1980, Anne Bernays, review of The House of the Prophet, p. 17; March 15, 1994, James H. Andrews, review of Tales of Yesteryear, p. 14.
Entertainment Weekly, November 7, 2003, Jennifer Armstrong, review of The Scarlet Letters, p. 76; November 26, 2004, Rebecca Ascher-Walsh, review of East Side Story, p. 128.
Florida Bar Journal, April, 2004, Nestor Enrique Cruz, review of The Scarlet Letters, p. 47.
Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2003, review of The Scarlet Letters, p. 1137; September 15, 2004, review of East Side Story, p. 879; February 15, 2006, review of The Young Apollo and Other Stories, p. 144; December 1, 2006, review of The Friend of Women and Other Stories, p. 1184.
Library Journal, June 1, 1999, Patrick Sullivan, review of The Anniversary and Other Stories, p. 180; February 1, 2000, Ann H. Fisher, review of Her Infinite Variety, p. 115; April 15, 2000, Robert F. Nardini, review of Woodrow Wilson, p. 99; March 15, 2001, James L. Dudley, review of Woodrow Wilson, p. 124; November 15, 2001, Robert F. Nardini, review of Theodore Roosevelt, p. 74; October 15, 2003, Robin Nesbitt, review of The Scarlet Letters, p. 95; October 1, 2004, Patrick Sullivan, review of East Side Story, p. 66; March 1, 2006, Patrick Sullivan, review of The Young Apollo and Other Stories, p. 80.
New Criterion, October, 1997, James Tuttleton, profile of author.
New Republic, March 29, 1993, Andrew Delbanco, review of Three Lives, pp. 36-41.
New York Herald Tribune Book Review, September 11, 1960, E.C. Dunn, review of The House of Five Talents.
New York Times, October 28, 1985, Sandra Salmans, "Author Explores Business Ethics," p. 21; August 20, 2000, Megan Harlan, review of Her Infinite Variety, p. 17; October 27, 2002, Jeff Waggoner, "Books in Brief," p. 29.
New York Times Book Review, October 13, 1985, A.R. Gurney, review of Honorable Men, p. 3; May 8, 1988, Grace Glueck, review of The Golden Calves, p. 13; March 26, 1989, Isabel Colegate, review of Fellow Passengers: A Novel in Portraits, p. 8; May 28, 1989, Edith Johnson, review of The Vanderbilt Era: Profiles of a Gilded Age, p. 19; July 8, 1990, Linda Gray Sexton, review of The Lady of Situations, p. 11; February 10, 1991, Nancy Caldwell Sorel, review of Love Without Wings: Some Friendships in Literature and Politics, p. 7; February 27, 1994, Diana Postlethwaite, review of Tales of Yesteryear, p. 9; September 11, 1994, Lynn Karpen, review of The Style's the Man: Reflections on Proust, Fitzgerald, Wharton, Vidal, and Others, p. 26; December 4, 1994, Bruce Bawer, review of The Collected Stories of Louis Auchincloss, p. 62; April 9, 2000, Michael Lind, "Mr. Wilson Goes to Washington," p. 8.
Publishers Weekly, August 21, 1995, review of The Education of Oscar Fairfax, p. 44; August 4, 1997, review of The Atonement and Other Stories, p. 66; May 17, 1999, review of The Anniversary and Other Stories, p. 54; March 27, 2000, review of Woodrow Wilson, p. 61; June 12, 2000, review of Her Infinite Variety, p. 50; November 19, 2001, review of Theodore Roosevelt, p. 55; June 24, 2002, review of Manhattan Monologues, p. 37; September 29, 2003, review of The Scarlet Letters, p. 40; October 4, 2004, review of East Side Story, p. 66; October 18, 2004, Jessica Stockton, "A Novelist of Manners," p. 46; May 30, 2005, Margaret Flanagan, review of Writers and Personality, p. 53; December 4, 2006, review of The Friend of Women and Other Stories, p. 32.
Saturday Review, July 14, 1962, Granville Hicks, review of Portrait in Brownstone; July 11, 1964, Granville Hicks, review of The Rector of Justin.
Seattle Times, July 28, 2002, Michael Upchurch, review of Manhattan Monologues, p. K10.
Time, May 11, 1987, Paul Gray, review of Skinny Island: More Tales of Manhattan.
Times (London, England), January 29, 1987, Andrew Sinclair, review of Diary of a Yuppie.
Times Literary Supplement, May 2, 1980, Charles Wheeler, review of The House of the Prophet, p. 486; June 21, 1991, Morris Dickstein, review of The Lady of Situations, p. 20.
Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), March 19, 1989, Edward Hawley, review of Fellow Passengers, p. 4; January 1, 1995, Judith Wynn, review of The Collected Stories of Louis Auchincloss, p. 1.
Vanity Fair, December, 2004, "Louis Auchincloss; over the Course of More than 50 Years, Novelist and Biographer Louis Auchincloss Has Established Himself as One of America's Pre-eminent Chroniclers of New York's Upper Class," p. 414.
Washington Post, September 11, 1985, Jonathon Yardley, review of Honorable Men, p. F2; March 28, 1989, James K. Glassman, review of Skinny Island; August 11, 2000, Carolyn See, "The Scheme Rising to the Top," p. C02.
Washington Post Book World, July 22, 1984, Jonathon Yardley, review of The Book Class, p. 3; January 10, 1993, review of Louis Auchincloss: A Writer's Life, pp. 3, 10.
Women's Wear Daily, March 30, 2006, Elisa Lipsky-Karasz, "Social Graces" (profile of author), p. 16.
Yale Review of Books, spring, 2003, Carey Seale, review of Her Infinite Variety.
Atlantic Unbound,http://www.theatlantic.com/ (October 15, 1997), interview with Auchincloss.
Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee, WI), http://www.jsonline.com/ (July 2, 2002), Reg Stout, review of Manhattan Monologues.
Literal Mind,http://literalmind.com/ (March 4, 2004), Erin Stringer, review of Her Infinite Variety.
Mostly Fiction,http://www.mostlyfiction.com/ (November 14, 2003), Mary Whipple, review of The Scarlet Letters; (December 19, 2004) Mary Whipple, review of East Side Story.