OPINIONSrnRecoil and Revulsionrnby Frank Biownlowrn”Ambition and suspicion always go together.rn—G.C. LichtenbergrnMuggeridge: The Biographyrnby Richard IngramsrnSan Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco;rn264 pp., $27.50rnBack in the 1950’s and 60’s, whenrnMalcolm Muggeridge was one ofrnthe resident personalities of British television,rnall over Britam people used tornwonder what the origins of such a bizarrernfigure might be. Many of them wouldrnwatch solely to be amazed by this darksuitedrnclown with the fleshy nose andrnwide, loose mouth, the fine, thinning,rnsilver hair, the extravagant gestures,rnand the outlandish, drawling accent.rn”Where did they find him?” they wouldrnask each other. “Is he really like that, orrnis it all an act?”rnMuggeridge died, after some yearsrnof silence, in 1990. If any of that oldrncuriositv about the Muggeridgean phenomenonrnsurvives, Richard Ingrams’rnabsorbing biography will go a long way tornsatisfy it. American admirers, on thernother hand, who never knew Muggeridgernin his television glory days, andrnwho idolized him as “St. Mugg,” thernlate-converted Christian sage and stylist,rnmay be in for surprises, some of themrnpossibly unpleasant. Yet that shouldn’trnstop them from reading the fascinatingrnstory that Ingrams tells. He is sympatheticrnto the later Muggeridge, but itrnis the earlier Muggeridge, the hardliving,rnanti-Establishment individualist,rnmentor to the voung satirists of the 60’srn(including himself), who really holds hisrninterest.rnMalcolm Muggeridge was a mostrnunusual man. He was born in 1903 inrnFrank Brownlow teaches Enghsh atrnMount Holyoke College. His most recentrnbook is Robert Southwell.rnCrovdon, just outside South London, intorna working-class family in the process ofrnupward moNcmcnt into the new middlernclass whose appearance has been a featurernof British life in this century. In thatrnrespect the Muggeridges were part of thernsame process that produced the Larkins,rnthe Amises, the Thatchers, and thousandsrnof others. Muggeridge senior mustrnhave been a man of considerable drivernand N’italitv. He comliined two modestlyrnsuccessful careers, one on the clericalrnside of a firm of London shirtmakcrs, thernother in the ranks of Fabian socialism. Inrnmiddle life he managed to be simultaneouslvrna Labour town councilor (even,rnbriefly, a member of Padiamcnt) as wellrnas secretary—potentiallv a director—ofrnthe company he worked for. In this unusualrnmix of vocations one sees thernunsettled ambition and divided loyaltyrnthat recurred in the life of his favoriternson, Malcolm. Ingrams presents Muggeridgernsenior as a benign, domesticrnfigure, but there must have been somernturbulent currents in his psyche. Interestingrnevidence of that is Malcolm’srnwife’s message to him after his father’srndeath, that in death his father’s face lostrnits angry look.rnMuggeridge seems to have inheritedrnfrom his father a lifelong disposition towardrnanger and contentiousness, andrnthat combative emotional equipment,rnjoined to ambition and competitiveness,rnproduced a formidable, though unpredictable,rnpersonality. Ingrams, whornknew Muggeridge well, and liked him,rnsays more than once in this book that hernwas without personal ambition. This isrnan odd diagnosis to make of a man likernMuggeridge, and can only mean that hern^ had none of the English publie-school-rnJ and-university-boy’s ambition for thernJ” kind of distinction recognized in En-rn& gland by awards of titles, positions, andrndecorations. That was true enough. Instead,rnMuggeridge’s ambition took a distinctlyrnegotistical turn, and he thrived byrnattacking conventional sources of rewardrnand honor. In this, too, he was like his father,rnwho turned down a directorship ofrnhis company because it would have beenrnagainst his socialist principles to allyrnhimself so frankly with traditional forcesrnof wealth and social success.rnMuggeridge’s own brand of ambitionrnrevealed itself eariy on when he got himselfrninto Cambridge from his local grammarrnschool in Croydon, though only as arnstudent at a minor Church of Englandrncollege (Selwyn), and at some sacrificernof principle. To begin with, his school of-rn24/CHRONICLESrnrnrn