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Hardcover The Headmaster's Dilemma Book

ISBN: 0618883428

ISBN13: 9780618883424

The Headmaster's Dilemma

Auchincloss returns to the subject of his most famous novel, The Rector of Justin, the 1964 fictional biography of the feared headmaster at an exclusive New England prep school. This story follows what happens when a schools ideals and founding principles collide with the exigencies of change.


Format: Hardcover

Condition: Very Good

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Customer Reviews

2 ratings

Asking for it, dressed like that...?

More devoted fans of this author say this isn't his best work. I've only read a few of his novels and, okay, this isn't AS perfect. It didn't seem like it was set in the 1970s, and the girls didn't seem like girls. The plot was excellent though. Auchincloss tells the reader what it's like to be flattered into agreeing with a sophist, then baits him/her with the figure of Rosina Castor, the hysterical mollycoddler, naive to the world of men, who creates a seductive argument that if you think a rape took place here, then you just don't get it. And then there's the victim blaming--the headmaster using virtually the same argument against the victim as the alleged assailant; the thinly veiled hints that if the boy IS gay, then he MUST have enjoyed it...And let's not forget about Spenser, who doesn't seem to care whether or not any rape took place. There's too little said about people who don't necessarily feel prejudice, but who cheerfully use it if they can get something out of it for themselves. I thought this was a thoughtful study of a plausible situation. PS Dr. Prescott would have seen right through all these people :)

Vintage Auchincloss

Louis Auchincloss has rightly over the last 60 years assumed a primary position in American letters. The author of non-fiction books, he has become particularly known for his 46 volumes of fiction (including short story collections). Auchincloss has created a unique niche in that his fiction centers on the wealthy New Yorkers of the upper East Side, the powerful law firms of New York, and on occasion (such as his justly renown "The Rector of Justin") on the educational institutions upon which these upper class New Yorkers rely. Since Auchincloss himself has an impeccable pedigree of upper class distinction, his stories manifest a remarkable degree of authenticity. That is, Auchincloss is writing largely about "his own." This novel is set in a New England boarding school much patronized by the wealthy. Auchincloss does not develop elaborate plots for the most part; his genius lies in how his characters interact when faced with various crisis situations. Here the story involves allegations of sexual impropriety between male students. This intersects with a continuing conflict between the school's wealthy board chair, dedicated to keeping things the same as when he attended, and the headmaster who is an engine for change. There is also a dimension added by the unhappiness of the headmaster's wife. But the most interesting facet is how the parents of the two boys, the board chair, the lawyers, and the headmaster all react to this extremely explosive situation. These upper class folks react in ways a bit different than the rest of us--so the author gives us a peek into the folkways of this elite and reclusive group. While one can wonder if people really speak the kind of dialogue that the author puts into his characters' mouths, this does not detract from the enjoyment of the novel. As Auchincloss approches 90 this year, one can only hope that he continues to write and give us more insight into this interesting segment of New York life.
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