Features May 2015
A burnt-out fairground
A selection from David Pryce-Jones’s memoir reveals the literary world, anti-Semitism, and changing politics of twentieth-century Europe.
Royaumont, a family home of David Pryce-Jones. Photo: David Pryce-Jones.
Coal was rationed in September 1948 when I went to Eton, and each boy could light the fire in his room only once a week. Ice formed on the water in the hand basin and I had chilblains on my hands and feet. Soon after arriving, I came shivering into my room to find a note on my desk: “Your mother is a dirty Jewess.” The boy in the room next door came from a well-known banking family; I recognized his handwriting and went to find the housemaster. Reading the note, Oliver Van Oss gave one of his deep chuckles, then sent for the culprit and said, quite possibly improvising, that there were now three people of Jewish origins in the room.1
Known by his initials as OVO, Oliver was an exceptional schoolmaster, genuinely interested in bringing out the potential of the boys in his care. Open-minded and generous, widely read and an artist at heart, he was ready to break the rules for a good cause. In the Easter holidays of 1949, Alan, my father, had received a proof copy of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four for the Times Literary Supplement to review. The excitement in the house prompted me to start reading it, but I had time only for the astonishing opening pages. Returning to Eton, I went to the school library to ask Mr. Cattley, the librarian, for the book. He was a bald, stooping, crotchety old man straight out of Dotheboys Hall. “I shall report you for asking for filth,” was his response. That evening, OVO came to find me in my room to say, “You must forgive Mr. Cattley, he is a very simple soul.”
I was familiar with the old Eton Calendar that printed the list of my father’s prizes, and I thought the right thing was to earn a longer list. At the end of every term, my parents would ask how I had done, and their faces would fall when I told them about winning this, that, and the other prize, not just for English or French but for neglected subjects like divinity. As an antidote, they arranged social occasions for me, until after a teenage dance, when for no discernible reason I was sick all over the floor in the composer Lennox Berkeley’s house, and my mother in her nightdress had to clean up. OVO told them that in time I would put this mark-grubbing to adult purposes and make a fortune as a banker. He nicknamed me “Monsieur le Maire.” One term, I wrote a short story in French for him, and his comment in red ink, “This is the real thing,” encouraged me to see myself as a writer. Others in the school at the time who were to become writers included the prolific Andrew Sinclair, Bamber Gascoigne, the mastermind of University Challenge and popularizer of the phrase “Your Starter for Ten,” the sociologists Garry Runciman and Benedict Anderson, the underrated novelist and travel writer Philip Glazebrook, the explorer and historian of Latin America John Hemming, and Michael Holroyd, who by himself banged a little black rubber ball up and down in the squash courts and has brought out massive biographies researched and written with the same solitary engagement—industrious but hardly a match for the Orwell and Connolly generation. At the moment when I must have bettered Alan’s list of prizes, the Calendar decided to save money by no longer printing the footnotes that recorded this voluntary competition.
The Eton Society, colloquially known as Pop, gave boys at the top of the school the freedom to select themselves to be what in effect were prefects. It was a sort of club in embryo, with a room of its own. The twenty or so members had the power to fine and even cane boys for minor offenses, and they were allowed the privilege of wearing clothes that distinguished their status, most visibly a fancy waistcoat when everybody else had to make do with a black one. Since then, authority everywhere has been busy centralizing power in all manifestations for fear that it might fall into uncontrollable hands, and even Pop has long since been reformed to exclude anyone who might get in just because he was popular. But election in my day meant the approval of my peers, and suddenly, badly, I wanted it. Everyone at home became anxious on my behalf. If I got in, my uncle Elie de Rothschild promised to give me a waistcoat the like of which nobody else would have. When I did, a waistcoat with show-off patterns of gold, green, and purple duly arrived, chosen and made by Dior. Uncle Elie had entered my life.
Under some impression that I could combine a literary life and a diplomatic job, in the spring of 1959 I sat the Foreign Office entrance examination. Those who then interviewed me were sure that with my background I would insist on postings in France and Germany, and they were unconvinced when I said I rather fancied Mogadishu. At another interview a lady psychologist asked me what had been the happiest day of my life. My answer was that sunshine and clouds went together. And what, she went on, had been the unhappiest day? I had already answered that. Quite soon, I received a handwritten letter to say that out of a total of 150 marks, the minimum acceptable was fifty, and I had received thirty-five. In a sorrowing tone, the letter informed me that I would not be able to cope with life and advised that I go for professional treatment. This was not good news for my future father-in-law, soon to be Permanent Under-Secretary of the Foreign Office. Looking into it, he discovered that, according to the psychologist, failure to provide specific incidents of happiness and unhappiness were grounds for absolute and permanent disqualification from any responsible job. At that time, furthermore, the Foreign Office could not countenance anyone with a French and Jewish mother. Luckily, Harold had a sense of the ironic and the ridiculous, and never held it against me that by becoming a journalist I had enrolled in what the Foreign Office like to consider the Opposition.
I wrote finals and married Clarissa Caccia, whom I had met at a ball and fallen in love with at first sight, six weeks later in the twelfth-century chapel next to the house of Clarissa’s Barstow grandparents. I was twenty-three, Clarissa just twenty. Everybody encouraged us. Those who thought us too young kept their counsel. The gathering in the churchyard of my grandmother, the assembled Fould-Springers, and the Rothschilds prompted Aunt Marjorie, widow of a Caccia uncle in Florence and in her day a steadfast fascist and anti-Semite, to jot down in her diary, “All the noses were there.”
Always generous, Cécile de Rothschild gave us the wedding present of a week on a yacht, with a crew of a captain and a mate that we picked up on the Greek island of Hydra. In Austria on the way home, we visited the monastery of Stams. I was wandering by myself in the sacristy when a priest came in, advanced towards me, and without a word started hitting my head. I put my arms up to ward him off, and he knocked my watch to the ground. Outside the monastery was a police station. The priest charged me with breaking off the diamond pendulum of the clock in the sacristy, at which point a busload of German tourists entered the police station to testify that they had witnessed me doing it. The police sergeant on duty duly wrote down the particulars. If I had stolen the pendulum, it had to be on me. While I was trying to get him to search me, he asked why Clarissa spoke German like a native. Because her father had been the British High Commissioner in Vienna and she’d been at school there. And where were we driving to now? To Baron Elie de Rothschild at Scharnitz. The policeman stood up, saying that everyone knew the pendulum had been missing for at least ten years. Ordering the priest and false witnesses to leave, he begged us to take the matter no further. Apparently the priest had suffered a breakdown, we were to make allowances, but anyone who did not have the right credentials might very well have been framed. The false witnesses drove away before I could have it out with them, but they had given me a feel for the malice and lies of the Hitler period.
Every inch an earl, Lord Drogheda, the managing director of the Financial Times, had offered me a job on the paper as a feature writer. The features editor and future Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson gave the impression that he was bound for the top and had the generosity to be taking you with him—Roy Harrod, the economist and a fellow of Christ Church, Oxford, said he had never taught a better pupil. Gordon Newton, the paper’s experienced editor, gave me an early lesson in the way of the world when he called me in to listen to the politician R. A. Butler on the telephone, briefing against colleagues by leaking what they had just said in cabinet. After a while I was writing a daily column with William Rees-Mogg, who had the air of the editor of a great paper long before he actually was one. In a short space of time, then, I had acquired a wife, a house in Knightsbridge, the prospect of money one day in the future, and a career.
Time and Tide was a rundown weekly magazine that the rich and idiosyncratic Tim Beaumont—a priest into the bargain—had bought in order to revitalize. It was something of a gamble to accept its literary editorship. The foreign editor Mark Frankland and the home affairs editor Richard West both wrote books as well as articles. Among contemporaries whom I was the first to put into print were Martin Gilbert and Francis Hope, the novelists Margaret Drabble and Susan Hill, and Tony Tanner, Cambridge’s specialist on American literature. In the first interview I did for Time and Tide, Aldous Huxley described how his house in California had caught fire. Almost blind as he was, he had risked his life to save the manuscript of Island, his last novel. He said with an impressive lack of self-pity that to have lost his library, with its archive and letters from D. H. Lawrence, was a foretaste of death.
Every Wednesday, Burgo Partridge, Julian Jebb, and other regular critics brought in their copy and we’d have lunch. Burgo was almost sure to talk about his parents Ralph and Frances Partridge. He hated their anything-goes Bloomsbury values so passionately that he had always wanted to murder them. As a little boy, he had shown his mother the grave he had dug for her in the garden. In a case of mistaken identity, the police did arrest him for murder. Assuming that trauma had wiped out the memory of his deed, he made a false confession and wept when his father came to fetch him from the cells. The tale made such an impression that I was to take it for the donnée of my novel Safe Houses.
One occasional contributor was David Jones, the poet and painter, for whom art had to be a genuine spiritual experience. Always in the wake of his masterpiece Darkness at Noon, Arthur Koestler never kept his promise to write for the magazine. His circle of friends included Paul Ignotus, who looked too frail to survive the persecution by Hungarian Communists that he recounts in Political Prisoner, a book that ought to be better known. The critics would gather in his house for a drink before lunch on Sunday, and on one of these occasions around 1963 I heard the journalist Goronwy Rees tell the assembled company that Anthony Blunt had tried to recruit him into the KGB. “Didn’t you know,” said John Mander standing next to me, “it’s Goronwy’s party piece.” The security services needed years to catch up with common knowledge in this room.
In London, The Spectator was looking for a literary editor. An interview with Iain Hamilton and Anthony Hartley, respectively the editor and his deputy, got me the job. The foreign editor was Robert Conquest, whose scrupulous study of Stalin’s Great Terror was dismissed as fascist by people I had been at Oxford with. One valued contributor was Evelyn Waugh, whose contributions were in longhand without a single erasure. A mildly experimental piece by a young writer making his first appearance in print failed to please him, so much so that he wrote to ask me to explain it. I got from Henry Green, most idiosyncratic of novelists, the last thing he wrote, a paragraph recommending the banning of Nabokov’s Lolita in order to protect elderly men like him from running into the park and making fools of themselves. Angus Wilson’s reviews were ungrammatical and incomplete scrawls in biro. “Do what you like with it, dear boy,” he’d say and then put the telephone down. Vidia Naipaul’s early books have an astonishing pure sense of comedy. Hoping to persuade him to write for The Spectator, I got to know him and his first wife, Pat, well. We talked about money and markets. On one of our walks in the park, he said that if he had been born into a wealthy family he would never have become a writer.
Hannah Arendt’s reportage on the Eichmann trial was published in October 1963, and Iain Hamilton agreed that I should review it. It took a very special type of intellectual to hold that banality was a word applicable to this man’s commitment to mass-murder. Cross-questioning had brought out his singular and sinister absence of human feelings. When she blamed Jewish officials for carrying out orders given by Eichmann and his staff, she revealed her inability to imagine the reality of Nazism. She excelled in passing moral judgments about events too frightful to be so simplified, and which in any case she had not lived through herself.
The Spectator’s owner, Ian Gilmour, had been in Oliver Van Oss’s house at Eton, though he had left before I arrived. A member of parliament, he was supposed to be an open-minded progressive Conservative, eventually earning the sobriquet “wet” when he was in Mrs. Thatcher’s cabinet. His resentment of Jews was obsessive, ignorant, and snobbish. I heard him inveighing against the Gaon of Vilna about whom he knew nothing, and he had an obsessive wish to attack the writings of James Parkes, a clergyman with a scholarly interest in Judaism and Israel. Jews, Gilmour believed like any Blackshirt or Islamist, by their nature conspire to do harm to other people, and to Palestinian Arabs in particular. A day was to come when he would post bail for two Palestinians who had tried to blow up the Israeli embassy. The strain of talking to me drained the blood from his face, tightening muscular striations and grimaces in his cheeks that became suddenly chalk-white.
Jessica Mitford, Decca to one and all, Had a library of thousands of books in her house in Oakland, which we took when I was teaching summer school at Berkeley in 1972. Clarissa discovered some in which Unity Mitford had written her name and a few marginal comments in a childish hand. Her passionate support for Hitler had been a phenomenon of the Thirties; that much was common knowledge. An essay about her, I thought, might shed light on the irrational mentality of fanaticism. When I mentioned the idea to Decca, she handed me the nine letters from Unity that she had preserved. Unity had been the fifth child of her parents, Lord and Lady Redesdale, and Decca the sixth. I understood that Decca couldn’t sort out in her own mind the closeness she felt for her sister and her abhorrence of Unity’s Nazism.
At the outbreak of war, Unity had put a bullet into her brain. Her friend Janos Almásy had taken charge of her papers and in due course he returned them to the Mitford sisters who deposited them in Chatsworth. A Nazi who flew a swastika flag above his castle, he had denounced his conservative sister Mädi to the Gestapo. What the Mitfords could not have known is that for purposes of revenge, Mädi had had time to appropriate one of Unity’s diaries and copy others. Mädi’s son, a priest, had inherited these papers, and stored them in the attics of the Sacré Coeur in Vienna, the school which once Clarissa had attended. He gave me what he found in a trunk. The projected essay could now enlarge into a book.
In the haul from the Sacré Coeur was the diary Unity had written in 1933, recording the affair that her elder sister Diana was having at the time with Sir Oswald Mosley of the British Union of Fascists. In a sense, Unity was trying to go one better than Diana. She knew Hitler and Goebbels but could only exclaim that they were “wonderful.” When I met Lady Mosley, I had the very different sense that she felt responsible for the fact that she was alive and Unity long since dead by her own hand. I had been born too late to understand Hitler and Goebbels, Lady Mosley thought, but I would live long enough to see statues to them put up in the capitals of Europe.
The Mosleys orchestrated a campaign to stop the biography I was writing. They put pressure on everyone they could think of to withhold their testimony, and then to say I had misrepresented them. The sixth and youngest Mitford sister, the Duchess of Devonshire, surely had forgotten that once she had put me through after-dinner paper games in Lismore. I wrote to inform her about the projected book. Her response was “Too many people are still alive who might be upset by it.” It was open to her to express love for Unity and abhorrence for her politics. Under cover of family solidarity, both these sisters instead chose to apologize for Nazism. In a letter to my father, the Duchess gave the order “Call your boy off,” as though summoning to heel a disobedient dog.
The Duke of Devonshire meanwhile was transmitting messages that I should on no account pay attention to what his wife was saying. At Chatsworth, I was told, argument at dinner became so heated that the Duke had to send the servants out of the room. Unaware of how I knew what I knew, Lady Mosley and the Duchess accused me of twice breaking into the house, the first time to burgle Unity’s papers, and the second time to replace them.
At the last minute, Mosley tried to bring an injunction. We had sent him an early proof copy, he had three small harmless complaints that were accommodated but reserved his right to take other legal measures. The judge wouldn’t have it. When Mosley’s lawyers then said that they could not be responsible for the consequences, my lawyer advised me to fetch my daughters from school and to ensure that nobody could tamper with the brakes of my car. Here was the authentic whiff of fascism. Invited to confront Mosley on television, I conscripted John Caute (nom de plume David Caute), the most politicized of my Oxford friends, to rehearse with me all possible questions and answers that might arise. I was sure that Mosley as usual would deny that he had ever been anti-Semitic so I jotted relevant quotes on index cards, and had them arranged in my pockets. He duly lied and I read out a selection of these cards. “Did you really say that?” Melvyn Bragg the anchorman asked, and Mosley’s snarl of an answer, “I suppose so,” was a clincher. When finally Mosley left for home, the driver of the taxi took one look and said, “He’s not getting into my bleeding cab,” and accelerated away.
My book, Unity Mitford: An Enquiry into Her Life and the Frivolity of Evil, became a nine-day-wonder, I can only suppose, because it brought out into the open collaboration with Hitler and the outlines of a British Vichy regime in the event of a successful Nazi invasion. The British flatter themselves that they had united to defeat a totalitarian enemy, and this was Our Finest Hour. Here I was pointing a finger at people whose beliefs and activities undermined this cozy national myth. I was to hear that I was “a traitor to my class,” a charge which concedes that England really did have its Quislings and Vichyites in waiting. Intending to analyze the social significance of my book, Bernard Levin, then the leading columnist on The Times, interviewed me over a period of several days. However many drafts he wrote, he finally told me, he couldn’t make sense of the storm, and gave up on the idea. It was left to Rebecca West to say what had to be said. She had known Meidling before the war and could remember seeing me there when I was a few days old. She had also studied the subject of treason. In a review she likened the moral atmosphere of my book to that of a burnt-out fairground.
Decca thrived on close combat and I had expected that she’d find some reason for turning against me. At her request, I had quoted in the epilogue her summing-up of Unity. The epilogue, she wrote to me, “Somehow lifts the whole book to a new (and far more desirable) plane.” But sure enough, she later took umbrage that I had depicted her Communism and Unity’s Nazism as two sides of the same coin. Once the book was in the shops, she published some critical comments about it and soon she was no longer in touch. In the literary pages of The Spectator, Anthony Lambton dismissed me as “a little white knight in armor, the champion of the Jewish nation,” and added an incoherent attack on George Weidenfeld for publishing the book—this from a man with no moral base at all, forced out of public life by his involvement with drugs and prostitutes.
John Gross, at that time the editor of the Times Literary Supplement, was a close friend who kept me in touch with news and views of who was in and who was out. He had given my book for review to Alastair Forbes, a writer whose long-winded style was a form of boasting that he had every inside story at his fingertips. His review was nothing but an ad hominem attack and John decided to reject it. Giving it the title “The Piece the Jews Rejected,” Forbes made a hundred photocopies and drove round London putting them into letterboxes, including mine. After some revisions had been made to this review, I found myself attacked in the pages that Alan had once edited.
Saul Bellow once suggested that my childhood spell in Vichy France had brought me close up to the Jewish experience. Paris in the Third Reich certainly touched on my background. Tom Wallace, the editorial director at Holt Rinehart, came to the house with a portfolio of photographs taken by Roger Schall during the German occupation. I was to write the text. Here were the stories and personalities mentioned in everyday conversation at Royaumont. Wartime conduct was as contentious as ever. Passed over in silence for the most part, surviving French fascists and collaborators led a conspiratorial existence in the shadows. Those who apologized were mostly insincere. One of them, Henri Coston, evidently thought he had been right to persecute Freemasons and Jews, and was still doing what he could within the law to carry on where he’d left off. Jean Leguay was the Vichy bureaucrat—the French Eichmann in fact—who had organized the deportation of Jews. He came to London specially and no doubt sincerely to tell me that he’d not done anything wrong. I got to know Ernst Jünger, whose account of occupied Paris is a tour de force, at the same time brilliant and inhuman. Arno Breker, the sculptor and doyen of Nazi art, had accompanied Hitler round Paris in June 1940, and the new work in his studio showed that he had learnt and forgotten nothing, Bourbon-style.
Up to that point, I had thought of myself primarily as a novelist but now political convictions began to matter more to me.
For the Telegraph, I specialized in Arab and Israeli subjects. When President Nasser moved troops into Sinai in May 1967, and uttered his menacing “Ahlan wasahlan” (welcome in Arabic), another Holocaust appeared imminent. The anxiety was global, overwhelming. The Israelis would not sit waiting to submit to extermination, I put it to John Anstey, the editor of the Telegraph Magazine. If you know so much about it, he said, you’d better go out there. On a specially chartered aircraft were men with skills that might be needed, including a team of orthopedic surgeons. Next to me sat a freelance demolitions expert from Rhodesia, and behind was the actor Topol.
A howling siren broke the country’s eerie silence. At the time, there was no way of knowing that the Israeli air force had destroyed the Egyptian air force on the ground, and the war was effectively won. No way of knowing either that the Israeli government had urged King Hussein of Jordan to stay out of the fighting. Shelling West Jerusalem and committing his Arab Legion to war, the king compelled the Israelis to respond, in effect handing them the West Bank and responsibility for the future of its Palestinian inhabitants. This misconceived tactic put in place the Israeli occupation and the cut and thrust it gives rise to. The decisive role of the individual in determining the course of history could hardly be demonstrated more clearly.
In Jerusalem, a colonel drove me out on the Bethlehem road. In the back of the jeep was James Cameron. This most celebrated British war correspondent was holding a bottle of whisky. A few dead Arab Legion soldiers lay where they had fallen. A shell had landed through the roof of the Church of the Holy Nativity in Bethlehem. In the nave, cloudy with smoke and dust, stood an archbishop. By the time I emerged, James Cameron’s empty bottle was rolling on the floor and he had passed out. Later in the fog of war somewhere near Nablus, I encountered Martha Gellhorn, instantly recognizable, her hair perfect, and wearing immaculate pressed denims in keeping with a lifetime spent reporting from battlefields. And later still, in the huge refugee camp of Aqabat Jaber, thousands of Palestinians were already abandoning their homes, their livestock, and in some cases relations too elderly to walk down to the bridge and over to Jordan. They hadn’t seen an Israeli, but seemingly the Arab threat to massacre Jews had reversed into fear of being massacred. The panic was collective. All were heading for a worse life, but I was unable to persuade a single one of them to stay.
In the small hours I was cabling my copy in the military censors’ office in Jerusalem when a white-faced and shaky James Cameron stumbled in. The censor, a studious young lieutenant, did not change expression as he read what was largely make-believe. Passing it, he commented, “Not one of your best pieces, Mr. Cameron.”
On a calm and beautiful summer afternoon, I drove towards the Syrian front, the obvious next battleground. Kibbutz Gonen was shelled intermittently in the night, and I was pleased to find that I could sleep through it even though not in a shelter. In the morning I passed a grove of eucalyptus trees, and under cover was a battery of heavy artillery. The sight and the sound of the barrage was impressive. The ground shook. At the foot of the Golan Heights, a company of soldiers were praying, swaying as Jews do. In the field the formation on the move looked familiar, and I recognized fire and movement, exactly as we had done it at Pickering. At one point, I took shelter in a signals truck. The Major inside had been in the Red Army and was taking down the fire orders spoken in clear and in Russian on the other side. The coordinates gave away the position of the guns, and aircraft then took them out. They were still shelling civilian targets, which could only maximize bad feeling. At the end of the day, I reached the Syrian trenches. A copy of Balzac’s Eugénie Grandet in Russian lay on the ground. I pocketed it. Appointed for political reasons, the officers had long since fled to Damascus. The men had evidently fought bravely to the end. Wandering by myself in the abandoned town of Quneitra, I came across a brand-new tank with less than ten kilometers on its dial and instructions in Russian. A Paisley scarf was on the seat, and I pocketed that too.
Sinai at all times is a stricken landscape of rock. The Mitla Pass was an enormous junkyard of wrecked Egyptian vehicles. At the Suez Canal I witnessed the Israelis sending the Egyptian army home. An Egyptian doctor was supervising the operation. He entered the name of each man in a large notebook, and made him press his thumb on an ink-pad and then again next to his name. These were fellahin, farm children who had not learnt to write. Fifty at a time, they were conveyed in barges across the canal. On the Egyptian side was a clubhouse protected by high wire fencing. In that arid setting, the watered green grass of this privileged place caught the eye. Half a dozen officers were lounging out there in deckchairs with drinks in their hands, and behind them up against the wire fence were thousands of Egyptian mothers come to search and scream for their sons.
For the Soviet Union, this defeat of their Arab clients was embarrassingly public. Soviet spokesmen and apologists retaliated with a campaign to smear Israel as the aggressor and Arabs as its victims. As a result of this inversion of reality, people who a moment before had been agonizing over the crimes Arabs were about to commit on Jews now agonized over the crimes Jews had no intention of committing on Arabs. The Two Minutes Hate is George Orwell’s phrase in Nineteen Eighty-Four for manipulations of public opinion dependent on politics rather than fact. Staying in the Dan Hotel in Tel Aviv, I happened to witness another guest, the photographer from one of the leading London dailies, taking a young Israeli waiter down to the beach after breakfast and making him kneel on the sand, hands behind his back in the fake posture of an Egyptian prisoner being brutalized. Amos Elon, by now an old friend, told how he had been in a jeep with Avram Joffe, a well-known General. When they came under fire, the General refused to duck and after a bit exclaimed, “Isn’t war boring?” Looking to the future, Amos and his wife Beth had already concluded that Israel had to avoid more boredom by handing back the West Bank and Gaza.
Soon returning to London, I was invited to speak to a meeting of Jewish writers. One of them was Harold Pinter, who came up to me in a spirit of wild triumphalism, boasting that the Jews had really shown Arabs what’s what. What then changed his mind? On occasions when we met in later years, he couldn’t resist coming right up to my face to tell me that Israel was nothing but a pawn of the United States and ought to be dismantled. Triumphalism had reversed into denigration. Who knows how many millions like him did not have the information or the intelligence to realize that they were caught by propaganda, repeating smears that other more artful people wanted them to repeat? A moment was to come when Nadira and Vidia Naipaul were dining with Antonia Fraser and Harold Pinter. He asked Nadira if she had made friends since arriving in England. She mentioned my name. Saying that he wouldn’t listen to any such thing, he stormed out of the room in a rage, only to pop his head round the door and bark, “Besides, he’s a Zionist.” Here was another person I could deprive of a meal, and in his own house.
1 This piece is adapted from Fault Lines, a memoir by David Pryce-Jones to be published by Criterion Books in October 2015.
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This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 33 Number 9, on page 17
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