fered no preparation on the classical side,rnso he went up as a natural scientist, subjectrnmatter he had no interest in. Morernseriously, to enter Sclvwn, Muggeridge,rnwhose family was decidedly secular, hadrnto become a confirmed member of thernChurch of England, a maneuver he laterrnkept quiet about, even though his undergraduaternreligious phase was genuinernenough. Yet the main purpose, of gettingrnout of Croydon into Cambridge,rnwas ser’ed, and he went home for hisrnfirst vacation ahead}- speaking in the peculiarrndrawl that was his trademark everrnafter, and calling his (no doubt surprised)rnfather and mother “pater” andrn”mater.”rnOne wishes that Ingrams had beenrnmore interested in his subject’s motivationrnat this and later stages of his life.rnHimself a journalist notable for his connectionrnwith Private Eye magazine, he isrncontent to explain Muggeridge as an anarchicrnindividualist possessed with a zealrnfor speaking truth. Useful as that approachrnis up to a point, there must alwaysrnhave been more to Muggeridge thanrnthat. Although lie neer allowed himselfrnto become identified with any of the institutionsrnor newspapers he worked for,rnhe always had a keen honing instinct forrncenters of influence and power while atrnthe same time remaining suspicious andrnwary of the people he found there. It wasrncharacteristic of him that having marriedrninto the purple of the English left wingrnbv choosing Sidney and Beatrice Webb’srnniece for a wife, he quickly began to dissociaternhimself from their politics andrnway of life. Although his heavy drinkingrnand aggressive, sometimes intolerablernwomanizing reminds one of less complexrnpower-maniacs, in his case one suspectsrnthat an element of self-dislike,rneven self-contempt, powered the continualrnurge to attack and dominate, hi thatrnconnection it is interesting that his onernundoubted period of despair camernduring service with British hitelligencernduring World War H, when he foundrnhimself isolated, deprived of the selfdefiningrnfreedom to speak and act thatrnhis psychology required.rnAs higrams’ book reveals so well, evenrnMuggeridge’s well-publicized conversion,rnfollowed by reception in thernCatholic Church, represented no realrnbreak with ingrained mental habits.rnRecoil or revulsion, accompanied byrnprophetic denunciation, was a recurrentrnMuggcridgean pattern which persistedrnthroughout his life as teacher, journalist,rnand broadcaster, and from which morernthan one of his friends suffered. Seen inrnthat light, Muggeridge the repentantrnhot-gospeller (to adapt a phrase of AnthonyrnPowell’s) was the fully realized versionrnof a character long in the making.rnBeatrice Webb, his aunt by marriage,rnwould have understood that; her analysisrnof young Muggeridge, quoted by higrams,rndetected an affinit’ for Catholicismrne’cn then. Even so, as long as he retainedrnthe power of choice Muggeridgernremained a hard fish for ecclesiastical anglersrnto land, hi a late interview in thernTimes, he said that though he found thernCatholic Church the most acceptable ofrnthose available, he really belonged to nornchurch.rnhi an earlier England, Muggeridgernmight well have found a niche as a fashionablernProtestant preacher, runningrnhis own ecclesiastical shop where hernpronounced on issues of the day torncongregations of the influential and fashionable,rnhi our unchurched centuryrnjournalism provided his first effectivernpulpit, but it was in tele ision that hernreally flourished. As a mass mediumrnreaching huge avidiences, television hasrnalways been divided between indulgingrnits audiences or instructing them, and inrnpursuit of the latter aim it has been hospitablernto punditrv of all kinds. Televisionrnprovided an ideal forum for Muggeridge’srnbrand of broadly generalized,rnopinionated talk, also for his strong, eccentricallyrndramatized character. KingsleyrnAmis, in his Autobiography, recallsrnhim “screwing up his face” as he producedrnsome enormous cliche with a suggestionrnof tremendous effort: “What wernall hae to realize is that we live in an increasinglyrnmaterialistic society.” Television,rnthen as now, could absorb anyrnamount of that.rnIt is fascinating to see from Ingrams’rnbook that the BBC, initialK pleased withrnMuggeridge as interviewer and host, wasrnso shocked bv his stronger views (of thernroyal family, for instance) that the’ triedrnto put him off the air entirely. The effortrnfailed because of the appearance of competitionrnin the form of independent televisionrnin Britain, and because the BBC itselfrnneeded Muggeridge’s services inrnreaching and holding an audience. Onernironic result of Muggeridge’s interactionrnwith the television audience was that hernbecame a participant in the very culturalrndevelopments he liked to inveighrnagainst. As contemporaries pointed outrnat the time, especially when he joinedrnvarious crusades for public morality, televisionrnpersonalities are ill-placed to attackrnmaterialism and self-indulgence inrnsociety at large, let alone power-seekingrnand self-importance in individuals.rnNonetheless, despite the comical sidernof his teleision career and the criticismsrnof the uncharmed, there is no doubt thatrnMuggeridge was an engaging man, arnclever, amusing conversationalist, and arnfirst-rate entertainer. Moreover, he hasrna claim on posterity as moralist andrnprophet. I laving gone to live in Stalin’srnRussia as a convinced communist journalist,rnhe immediately saw the truth ofrnthe regime, sent his hndings back to hisrnnewspaper, the Manchester Guardian,rnand later published a book on the subject.rnThis was an act of personal, moralrncourage that put him well ahead of thernlater stream of communist penitents. Hernalso gets high marks for his kindness tornP.G. Wodehouse whom he encounteredrnin Paris toward the end of the war.rnWodehouse was in real danger from misinformedrnAllied authorities, and Muggeridge,rnthen a British ofhcer, took carernof him, again at some risk to his ownrnstanding. On television, his most influentialrnprogram was probably his documentaryrnon Mother Teresa, which notrnonly introduced her to a huge public butrnled e’entually to his own conversion, andrnenabled him to write what may be hisrnbest book. Something Beautiful for God.rnTaken as a whole, though, Muggeridge’srnwriting, while praised in itsrntime, does not age well. It suffers fromrnfacility and a monotonous, all-too-predictablyrnegotistic point of view. Readablernin short doses, it palls at any length.rnIn spite of that, Muggeridge remainsrninteresting as a figure in his times, a selfinyentedrnman who defined himself bvrnopposition and ridicule of things established,rnyet who nonetheless becamernfamous in the employ of institutions hernaffected to despise. If he found a degreernof happiness in conversion, who willrnbegrudge it him? yXnyone curious aboutrnMuggeridge, or about the profession ofrnpunditrv in our times, will find Ingrams’rnbiography a fascinatingly informativerndocument.rnMARCH 1997/25rnrnrn