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Caldwell

The biography of Erskine Caldwell is very well-written. So far I am forming a picture of this young man that I don't particularly like. He was socially not adept, was stiff and seemed incapable of having real fun, was humiliated in college because of his poor background and lack of social sophistication, and he tried dressing and acting the part of someone more sophisticated, even lied about his background. Yet in his later years he made himself out to be courageous, fun-loving, well-liked. His later tales often presented himself inaccurately, made himself out to be better than he actually was at the time. This tendency to distort his own truth bothers me.

I also note that he did poorly in school, was forever failing subjects, and would blame the schools later for his lack of attention. He did not learn grammar or spelling easily.

Yet he did absorb his father's passion for the correcting of social injustices and for treating blacks equally, certainly an unusual attitude in the south at the time. He became an atheist while his father was a pastor in a rigid religion (yet his father gave him the freedom to decide for himself).

I have not read Tobacco Road or anything else of Caldwell's but now I want to. I should prowl around Leon's to see what is there, as well as to see what of Iris Murdoch I can find.

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