The Autobiography of a Cad is the hilarious ‘memoir’ of an arch-rotter, chronicling the life of one (happily fictitious) Edward Fox-Ingleby. A. G. Macdonell had great fun in writing this book, undoubtedly his funniest. It is written as a tongue-in-cheek ‘autobiography’ of a man who ploughs his way through life shafting everyone around him. After inheriting an estate from his dull father while still at Eton, he then goes up to Oxford; adroitly evades service in the First World War, and finally becomes a Tory minister in the 1930s. A rotter and a chancer of the first order, Fox-Ingleby will do anything to get what he wants — power, prestige, money, and sex.Macdonell was capable of wielding a wicked pen, and in Edward Fox- Ingleby he exposes the double-standards of the age, especially the cynicism and hypocrisy with which some of the wealthy were capable of concealing their actions. The style of humour is very British, and one reader — Josef Goebbels the Reich Minister for Propaganda, in his diary entry for 8 December 1940 seems to have been taken in — inconceivable as it appears, he thought the book to be of a genuine person:“I read a book by the Englishman MacDonell, Self-Portrait of a Gentleman, an unspeakably frivolous and cynical concoction that shows the English plutocrat without his mask. This is the face of the people whom we must overthrow.”
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A. G. Macdonell, (1895-1941) was a journalist and satirical novelist. Without doubt his best-known work was England Their England, but the success of this overshadows his other books, many of which were classics in their own way.
The Autobiography of a Cad must surely rank as one of the funniest books ever written and Lords and Masters is a cutting and hardhitting satire with frightening prescience, foreseeing the Second World War as inevitable.