Books: Sentimental Egoist

HUGH WALPOLE (503 pp.) — Rupert Hart-Davies—Macmillan ($5).

Something was the matter with Hugh Walpole's pants. "Suddenly the back of my bags split." says his diary in October 1906, "and I had to rush home." Same thing at a dazzling ball in 1914: "Saw everyone—great fun only my trousers split." But it was not only his trousers which kept leaving Walpole open to ridicule. All prepared to lecture on Charles Dickens, he would mount the platform only to find the subject was expected to be "Life Begins at Fifty." In Westminster Abbey, at George VI's coronation, it was Walpole's invitation card which...

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