Efforts at Truth: An Autobiography (British Literature Series)
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Nicholas Mosley brings the unblinking probing of a scientist to bear on the workings of the writer’s imagination. The result is a constantly stimulating, frequently startling, and always cheerfully unorthodox autobiography.
As a novelist, biographer, editor, and screenwriter, Nicholas Mosley has always been concerned with the central paradox of writing: if by definition fiction is untrue, and biography never complete, is there a form that will enable a writer to get at the truth of a life? In Efforts at Truth Mosley scrutinizes his own life and work, but examines them as a curious observer, fascinated by the constant interaction of reality and the written word.
As a life, it has been colorful, in settings ranging from the West Indies to a remote Welsh hill farm, from war action in Italy to battles with Hollywood moguls, from the Colony Room to the House of Lords. In print, the range has been as wide: editor of a controversial religious magazine, author of the acclaimed novel series Catastrophe Practice, screenwriter of his own work with Joe Losey and John Frankenheimer, biographer of his notorious father Oswald Mosley, and, in 1990, winner of the Whitbread Award for his novel Hopeful Monsters.
Efforts at Truth, Mosley’s distinctive autobiography, brings together the singular life and intricate mind of an important, multifaceted writer.
ever been hidden, screened, about my father? He had always been like some lighthouse visible for miles – his eyes flashing on and off to guide sailors or perhaps lure them to their doom. He had made all too little use of smokescreens for himself – seeming intent on publicising his own propensity to grandeur or doom. But in private life, in my childhood, he had often seemed to me to be the one grown-up who was willing to look at, to try to shed light upon, things around him; he had sometimes thus
could listen to – what? – myself? the murmurings of a road-mender’s drill? Of course there were times when in the writing of these plays I thought I was mad – the only person in step in an army of those who, if they had understood me, still might have thought I was mad; waiting for echoes to come from the caverns of my own head. And it did seem that I was spending more and more time with this ghostly family in my head rather than with my proper goodly family up the hill – to whom I had indeed
the hags – I mean myself performing in the role of the hags – with each person in oh-so-ordinary family life being or liking to see himself or herself in the role of the child– –Your father killed your mother and now you will kill me– –By saying this you show that it is you who want to kill me– And so on. With such savagery, so fruitlessly repeated, dissolving into chaos– –Into a black hole, a cosmic coal-hole, that is indeed like the death of a sun. And then suddenly there it was– Dear Sir,
to love. But still – look, listen (but do not talk about this too much!): might I not after all, the way things were going with this libel business, have a chance after a time of talking once more with Mary? But in the meantime – oh indeed a long winter! with nothing much seeming to be growing. Father Raynes came to stay with Rosemary and me. Rosemary’s grandmother had now died and her enormous house in Hertfordshire had been sold and some of her marvellous paintings and pieces of furniture had
signs of Raymond’s work have been destroyed. Sophiatown is a waste of rubble like a town in war. St Cyprian’s School is crumbling and weeds grow in the playground. Only the Church of Christ the King still stands, and people walk for miles to it on Sundays. For every growth in value the seed has to die. The work that Raymond did in Africa is now alive in thousands of homes that he never knew and never visited. The churches are in charge of Africans he taught, the schools are run by his own