Blunted makes an interesting point about Thomson's writing in Rosebud "like someone with a sexual attraction to Welles." It is a bit like that, and the title reinforces the feeling, at a certain level. I think, however, that the better analogy is that to a disillusioned youthful worshipper. Thomson has stated in numerous essays and interviews that Welles was perhaps the primary influence upon his teenage development. A boy of 15 sees the then largely forgotten CITIZEN KANE, at just the moment (1955) when Welles has become one of the toasts of London Theater. He is lionized by the leading angry young critic, Kenneth Tynan, and he is entertained by Lord and Lady Olivier and the Knights of the British stage. Suddenly, he is everywhere, in the press, on BBC TV and Radio with well-received projects and interviews, and in the process of making or appearing in no less than four new movies, including CONFIDENTIAL REPORT. Thomson must have been absolutely bowled over by Welles, and he has admitted as much. The experience started him on a course to becoming a film critic and scholar.
Then, as the years passed, each one anticipating another CITIZEN KANE, a new inspiration, Welles' failings must have become for Thomson almost like his own. And Thomson has come pretty close to that admission, too. I think that is the context for understanding the style and method of Rosebud.
Thompson is is very personal in his criticism. He involves his personal life in a number of his critical works. For instance, in his Biographical Dictionary of Film he includes an entry, a eulogy really, on a man whom he met one night at the British Film Institute. They became friends through their interest in films, and they spent time together, and corresponded for years, until the fellow died.
I, too, am interested in Conrad's book, which in concept, at least, seems most intriguing.