Inheritance

How Edward St. Aubyn made literature out of a poisoned legacy by Ian Parker

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In 1991, as Edward St. Aubyn was about to publish “Never Mind”—the first of five highly autobiographical novels, in which extremes of familial cruelty and social snobbery are described with a tart precision that is not quite free of cruelty and snobbery—he went for a walk with his mother in the English countryside and told her that his father had repeatedly raped him as a young boy. Her response “wasn’t totally satisfactory,” St. Aubyn said, several weeks ago. “She said, ‘Me, too’ ”—meaning that his father had raped her as well. “She was very, very keen to jump the queue and say how awful it was for her.”

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