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Showing results for tags 'John Osborne'.
Don't you just love it when a top literary journalist nominates as his favourite autobiography the one you, in this case meaning me, has always liked best. From today's Observer:- Robert McCrum's list - 1. A Better Class of Person by John Osborne. 2. Period Piece by Gwen Raverat. 3. Bring on the Empty Horses by David Niven. 4. Autobiography by Anthony Trollope. 5. In Parenthesis by David Jones. 6. A Sort of Life by Graham Greene. 7. Bad Blood by Lorna Sage. 8. The Time of My Life by Denis Healey. 9. The Autobiography by John Major. 10. My Early Life by Winston Churchill. of the first he writes: "The poster-boy of the self-pitiless autobiography is John Osborne in A Better Class of Person and Almost A Gentleman. Yes, he eviscerated Nellie, his poor old mum, and Jill Bennett ("Adolf"), an ex-wife, but he flayed himself, too. Osborne was a true artist and did not, to paraphrase Auden, confuse art with magic, as some try to do. For Osborne, art was a mirror whose proper effect was disenchantment. Searing honesty was Osborne's calling card."
I first read this first volume of Osborne's autobiography a few years ago but have bought my own copy now so that I can re-read as I found it so comic, comic in the sense that he draws on the snobberies and vulgarities of lower-middle-class life. This has always been a rich vein for some English writers. How about this description of his mother:- "My mother's hair was very dark, occasionally hennaed. Her face was a floury dark mask, her eyes were an irritable brown, her ears small, so unlike her father's ('He's got Satan's ears, he has'), her nose surprisingly fine. Her remaining front teeth were large, yellow, and strong. Her lips were a scarlet-black sliver covered in some sticky slime named Tahiti or Tattoo, which she bought with all her other make-up from Woolworth's. She wore it, or something like it, from the beginning of the First World War onwards.She had a cream base called Creme Simone, always covered up with a face powder called Tokalon, which she dabbed all over so that it almost showered off in little avalanches when she leant forward over her food. This was all topped off by a kind of knicker-bocker glory of rouge, which came in rather pretty little blue and white boxes - again from Woolworth's - and looked like a mixture of blackcurrant juice and brick dust. The final coup was an overgenerous dab of Californian Poppy, known to schoolboys as 'fleur de dustbins'.