Sunday, August 6, 2017

Neal Ascherson

Neal Ascherson is a former foreign correspondent for the Observer. He has just written his first novel, The Death of the Fronsac. From his Q&A with Andrew Anthony for the Guardian:

You grew up in Edinburgh but went to Eton. How did you fit in?

I got a scholarship. In those days it was still the old 70 poor scholars deal, established by Henry VI, so my parents paid about £50 a year. The scholars were segregated in the original college building. We felt we were more intelligent than the thousand lumpen upper-class boys out there, so there was a certain tension. But I certainly learned a lot – a great deal about English entitlement. I’ve always been a wee bit puzzled by the attitude of Eton boys to their teachers, the “beaks” as they were called. They weren’t afraid of them. And it dawned on me only a few months ago: of course, they’re servants! That’s how they regard them.

Earlier this year, you made a confession of killing two mortally wounded insurgents during the Malayan emergency. Was it something you’d been thinking about for a while?

Well, for many years I didn’t think about it at all. I don’t think it was suppression, it was just that when it happened I was very young and quite ferocious, as young men are. And I thought, well, what else was I supposed to do? End of story. So I didn’t bother about it. It’s only when...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue