Nelson W. Aldrich Jr., Old Money Dissector, dies at 86

Nelson W. Aldrich Jr., a writer and magazine editor, is “a self-help book for those with self-help” by a critic, particularly in “Old Money: The Mythology of Wealth in America,” who has uncompromisingly examined the heirs of the American aristocracy. called “help book”. too much”, died Tuesday at his home in North Stonington, in southeast Connecticut. He was 86 years old.

His daughter Liberty Aldrich said the cause was complications from Parkinson’s disease.

Mr. Aldrich was also the editor of the oral history book “George, Being George” (2008). George PlimptonHe was a fellow nobleman and literary journalist and wrote “Tommy Hitchcock: An American Hero” (1985), a biography of the famous polo player.

Mr. Aldrich was “driven by the need to understand, reveal and explain to others the class he was born into; Being a writer gave him the opportunity to do that,” Ms. Aldrich said in an email.

This is most evident and self-reflective in “Old Money” (1988) and The Atlantic magazine’s January 1979 “Preppies: The Last Upper Class?” He did it in the cover story titled.

While the article parodied prep school students, it also portrayed a “Preppie ideal” as a “collective longing; Regarding money, it is a yearning for victory—class versus income, grace versus jobs, overcoming doing.”

“Elegance is more of a standard than a gift,” wrote Mr. Aldrich, “it is something to be measured, a performance.”

He continued: “The pleasure of this thing comes from the knowledge that it is all made-up, that the effect of effortlessness requires a great deal of strain, that negligence requires attention, that indifference requires concentration, that simplicity and naturalness require artifice. Preppiedom’s tastiest joke is the anxiety everyone feels about being carefree.”

book review Writer Adam Hochschild in the Los Angeles Times wrote: “Aldrich’s voice is the voice of someone sitting in a comfortable leather armchair, telling a story over a long evening in an elegant New York or Boston club over cognac and cigars – definitely a boys’ club. He described the book as “a psychological portrait of America’s aristocracy as thoughtful as we are.”

Inside New York Times Book ReviewIt was Jane O’Reilly who called “Old Money” a “self-help book for those who have a lot.” and the existential dilemma of being Old Money.”

Mr. Aldrich has written insightfully about the drawbacks of too much freedom; this is personified by the complaint of a member of a self-help group for beneficiaries of inherited fortunes called Dough Nuts, “Sometimes I feel like I have everything I have. It has been a hobby that I have done in my life.”

Credit…New York Times

Nelson Wilmarth Aldrich Jr. was born on April 11, 1935, in Boston. His father was an architect and president of the Contemporary Art Institute in Boston. His mother was Eleanor (Tweed) Aldrich.

Mr. Aldrich in “Old Money” as “Jr. I was entitled to an IV instead,” he wrote, but “I was convinced that the Roman numerals were ambitious.”

He dedicates the book, among others, to his great-grandfather, Nelson W. Aldrich, who after 30 years of politics—he was a Republican United States Senator from Rhode Island—turned a modest profit from his wholesale grocery business into a $12 million fortune thanks to thanks. to good investment advice and favors from friendly thieving barons.

Said to be a millionaire who oversaw the laws for such robber barons, Senator Aldrich was considered the father of the direct federal income tax and the Federal Reserve System. His daughter Abigail is the only son of the founder of Standard Oil, John D. Rockefeller Jr. married with Nelson Aldrich Rockefeller, former governor and former vice president of New York, was a cousin.

New Hampshire’s exclusive St. Paul School and graduating from Harvard in 1957 with a major in American history and literature, Nelson Jr. He’s held a number of jobs: reporter for The Boston Globe, New York City public school teacher, editor of The Paris Review, senior editor of Harper’s Magazine, and editor-in-chief of Civilization for the Library of Congress.

He has also taught at Long Island University and the City University of New York City College.

In addition to his daughter Liberty from his divorced marriage to Anna Lou Humes, Mr. Aldrich is survived by Mrs. Humes’ adopted daughter, Alexandra; his wife, Denise (Lovatt) Aldrich; their daughter Arabella; a son, Alexander Goldsmith, from a relationship with a partner, Gillian Pretty Goldsmith; four stepchildren, Alison Humes, Mavis Humes Baird, Immy Humes and Tom Martin; and five grandchildren.

Despite all the parodies of the inhabitants of the upper classes, Mr. Aldrich himself was not far from ridicule. While the crowd mourns The death of Elaine’s restaurant Poet Frederick Seidel, one of Mr. Aldrich’s former Harvard classmates, wrote in 2011 in another class-conscious bunker on Manhattan’s Upper East Side:

Aldrich had once objected to Elaine, saying her nightly bill was too high.
He showed him that his number was seventeen Scots and he began to cry.
(Or was it eighteen?)
We were the stage.
Now the floor has been swept.

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