Walter Bagehot (1826-1877) was a prominent English journalist, banker, and man of letters. For many years he was editor ofThe Economist, and to this day the magazine includes a weekly "Bagehot" column. His analyses of politics, economics, and public affairs were nothing short of brilliant. Sadly, he left no memoir.
How, then, does this book bear the title,The Memoirs of Walter Bagehot? Frank Prochaska explains, "Given my longstanding interest in Bagehot's life and times, I decided to compose a memoir on his behalf." And so, in this imaginative reconstruction of the memoir Bagehot might have written, Prochaska assumes his subject's voice, draws on his extensive writings (Bagehot'sCollected Worksfill 15 volumes), and scrupulously avoids what Bagehot considered that most unpardonable of faults-dullness.
A faux autobiography allows for considerable license, but Prochaska remains true to Bagehot's character and is accurate in his depiction of the times. The memoir immerses us in the spirit of the Victorian era and makes us wish to have known Walter Bagehot. He is, Prochaska observes, the Victorian with whom we would most want to have dinner.
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