This Book is written by Arthur Osborne.
The last term ended and i packed up and left. I did not even trouble to attend the official degree-taking ceremony.
An immediate income became necessary; no use thinking any longer of future royalties on unwritten books. With some difficulty i obtained a post in a tenth-rate boarding school. The life was uncongenial, but even so it never occurred to me to regret not having stayed on at oxford.
I was seriously considering becoming a catholic in order to renounce the world and enter a monastery. Before taking up my teaching post i called at the catholic church in my hometown to talk it over with the local priest. To my surprise i found this a flourishing institution with several incumbents. I was fortunate in contacting there father daly, an irish jesuit with an adventurous spirit, a simple, good-hearted man with whom i had more affinity than i should have had with some one of a more scholarly type. He was elderly then and retired to a more sedentary post owing to a weak heart, but most of his life he had spent in tropical africa. He advised me that, if i made the decision, i should find the benedictine order most suited to my temperament. I went for a number of doctrinal talks with him. The thing i found hardest to swallow was adam’s apple. I was told that i must believe that it was the sin of physical greed over a physical apple that caused the fall. Even though i knew nothing yet of religious symbolism, i felt intuitively that this was a sterile parody of a profound truth. However, the scheme was not rejected for this or any other doctrinal reason but was gradually pushed aside during the months that followed by the zest for life in me — which means simply that the spiritual impetus was too weak, for when the real doorway opened several years later it called forth an aspiration against which no worldly zest could stand.
Within a year i had to give up my job on account of illness. When i recovered the oxford university appointments board informed me of two possibilities — one at an italian archaeological college in palestine, and the other as a private tutor in a polish country family. I applied for both and both accepted me. The former was a chance to retrieve my position in an academic career; the latter was a dead end. However, the former refused to advance my passage money. They were willing to refund it when i arrived but i had not got it. I was no longer on good terms with my father, so instead of asking him for it straight out i asked his advice which job to take. He advised the polish one. He was a practical, level-headed person, so i could only wonder what his motive was in advising what he must have known to be the wrong choice: whether it was because of the passage money or because the college was catholic and knowing my leaning in that direction, he feared that i might be lost forever to a religion he abominated. Actually, if i had put the matter plainly to him, asking him outright to advance me the fare, i do not think he would have refused. There were also one or two other people who would probably have made the advance if i had asked them, but it never occurred to me to do so. I followed my destiny to poland.
For nearly a year i lived in a polish manorial house on a large estate, read little, wrote next to nothing, met few people, more or less stagnated.
At the end of that time i got a job helping with an evening school in the upper silesian mining and industrial town of katowice. When i got there i found that it was not really an evening school at all; only a lecturer in english at cracow university, a cautious, dapper little man, had started evening courses in english at katowice, where he came by train two or three times a week to run them. The courses prospered. There was a boom in english owing to american industrial investment. He was glad to have an englishman, and an oxford graduate at that, to help him, but was too prudent to mention the fact in his advertisements — only his own name appeared. Next year, however, the beginnings of the postwar crisis began to be felt. The demand for english slumped and the courses could no longer support two.
Within three years of leaving oxford i had come right down to the nadir — no job, no profession, no prospects, just making a living by giving private lessons to foreigners. Apart from the outer conditions, i was degenerating in myself also, tending to become superficial in life and cynical in outlook. The attempt to find an answer in religion had failed, and i no longer even went to church or read religious or philosophical books. The dream of being a professional writer had not materialised. I had wanted to write. Even the dream of a great love seemed to have eluded me and degenerated into a facile attraction to women. Nevertheless, some parts of the fortress still held — idealism and a sense of honour and great simplicity.
Actually, i had been shielded from the world during this time of decline when it would have been easy to lose grip— first in a boarding school, then a sick-bed, then a country house. Only now was i cast on to the waters of modern city life and in danger of dissipating my energies a hundred ways, with resultant weakening and superficiality. However, i had been a very short time in katowice before my attention began to be concentrated on a lady of great charm and poise who came to the courses. She was tall and well built, with a pale complexion and dark, wavy hair. What first attracted me was an impression of great self-control and something secret about her eyes and smile betokening hidden wealth of personality. I was soon in love and decided that this was the wife for me. Such was my exuberance and folly that it did not even occur to me what a poor offer i was as a husband in view of the mess i had made of my life.