The Literature Man

Charles Nicholl

  • Cuts by Malcolm Bradbury
    Hutchinson, 106 pp, £6.95, April 1987, ISBN 0 09 168280 0
  • No, Not Bloomsbury by Malcolm Bradbury
    Deutsch, 373 pp, £17.95, May 1987, ISBN 0 233 98013 X
  • The Last Romantics by Caroline Seebohm
    Weidenfeld, 322 pp, £10.95, May 1987, ISBN 0 297 79056 0
  • The Magician’s Girl by Doris Grumbach
    Hamish Hamilton, 206 pp, £10.95, May 1987, ISBN 0 241 12114 0

Malcolm Bradbury has what the political image-makers call ‘high definition’. We know who he is, where he’s coming from, what he stands for. As a novelist he belongs to a recognisable literary stable: specifically the ‘university novel’, more generally the humorist-humanist vein of embattled liberalism in post-war British fiction. He is a familiar face on the TV arts circuit, a familiar voice in the literary press. He has stood on both sides of the fence in the Booker stakes, being chairman of the judges in 1981 and a short-listed nominee (for Rates of Exchange) in 1983. He is Professor of American Studies at the University of East Anglia. He is an editorial director of the magazine Granta. Influential, lucid and topical, he has become a kind of quality control manager for the literary industry. One might almost call him – to adapt the title of his best-known book – the Literature Man.

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