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The Literature Man

Charles Nicholl

25 June 1987
Cuts 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Hutchinson, 106 pp., £6.95, April 1987, 0 09 168280 0
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No, Not Bloomsbury 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Deutsch, 373 pp., £17.95, May 1987, 9780233980133
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The Last Romantics 
by Caroline Seebohm.
Weidenfeld, 322 pp., £10.95, May 1987, 0 297 79056 0
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The Magician’s Girl 
by Doris Grumbach.
Hamish Hamilton, 206 pp., £10.95, May 1987, 0 241 12114 0
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... MalcolmBradbury 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 ...
2 February 1984
The Oxford Companion to American Literature 
by James Hart.
Oxford, 896 pp., £27.50, November 1983, 0 19 503074 5
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The Modern American Novel 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Oxford, 209 pp., £9.95, April 1983, 0 19 212591 5
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The Literature of the United States 
by Marshall Walker.
Macmillan, 236 pp., £14, November 1983, 0 333 32298 3
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American Fictions 1940-1980: A Comprehensive History and Critical Valuation 
by Frederick Karl.
Harper and Row, 637 pp., £31.50, February 1984, 0 06 014939 6
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Hugging the Shore: Essays and Criticism 
by John Updike.
Deutsch, 919 pp., £21, January 1984, 0 233 97610 8
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... lot of general surveys, which look so authoritative to the casual eye. The authors have credentials, the titles sound important, the back pages are crammed with appendices, footnotes, bibliographies. MalcolmBradbury includes a ‘Select Bibliography’ and a ‘List of Major Works’. Frederick Karl offers up columns of elaborate notes. Marshall Walker supplies a ‘chronological table’ that ...

Diary

Frank Kermode: Everybody loves the OED

20 April 1989
... how thrilled they were to have made the whole thing possible by supplying the computer, the computer know-how – and a lot of computer-generated money. Representing the constituency of the users, MalcolmBradbury, gracefully grateful on behalf of the writing profession for so writer-friendly a dictionary, offered some innocent jests about bazooms – the last word actually defined in Volume One (A ...

Flying the flag

Patrick Parrinder

18 November 1993
The Modern British Novel 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Secker, 512 pp., £20, October 1993, 0 436 20132 1
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After the War: The Novel and English Society since 1945 
by D.J. Taylor.
Chatto, 310 pp., £17.99, September 1993, 9780701137694
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... field’ of texts, so as to reveal the changes of ideology or ‘structure of feeling’ from decade to decade. Questions of aesthetic value are routinely bypassed. Of the two critics under review, MalcolmBradbury is a self-conscious progressive, but he writes the old kind of history. D.J. Taylor is a self-conscious reactionary whose book is a rather strange example of the new kind. Taylor’s belief ...

Diary

A.J.P. Taylor: A historian writes for fun

19 May 1983
... I have recently read The History Men by John Kenyon. I remember reading a different book, The History Man by MalcolmBradbury, some years ago. I did not find Bradbury’s book at all funny, which I am told it is intended to be. After a careful reading I had not the slightest inkling of what the book was supposed to be about. Indeed I thought my mind was going ...

Looking back

John Sutherland

22 May 1980
Metroland 
by Julian Barnes.
Cape, 176 pp., £4.95, March 1980, 0 224 01762 4
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The Bleeding Heart 
by Marilyn French.
Deutsch, 412 pp., £6.50, May 1980, 9780233972343
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Creator 
by Jeremy Leven.
Hutchinson, 544 pp., £6.95, April 1980, 0 09 141250 1
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... War, which secreted the modern age’s poison as a bee secretes honey. In Angus Wilson’s latest work (Setting the World on Fire) the narrative hinges on the crucial Suez-Hungary year, 1956-57. MalcolmBradbury – though he as yet has written no novel on the theme – has expounded at length his agreement that 1956 is the year in which Trillingesque liberal humanism went under to the new barbarism ...
5 December 1991
From Puritanism to Postmodernism: A History of American Literature 
by Richard Ruland and Malcolm Bradbury.
Routledge, 381 pp., £35, August 1991, 0 415 01341 0
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... The paradigm of Modernism, of programmatic innovation and reflexivity, has been applied to earlier and earlier writing, until there is little left that doesn’t speak, somehow, of self-renewal. Bradbury and Ruland maintain that American literature always has been and always will be ‘pre-eminently a modern literature’. Their history surveys the long march of self-renewals with the benevolent ...

Vibrations of Madame de V***

John Mullan: Malcolm Bradbury

20 July 2000
To the Hermitage 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Picador, 498 pp., £16, May 2000, 0 330 37662 4
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... Denis Diderot, the hero of MalcolmBradbury’s new novel, has one niche in the English language with ‘esprit de l’escalier’, his only entry in the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations: ‘An untranslatable phrase, the meaning of which is ...

Travelling

Elaine Jordan

21 April 1983
The Viaduct 
by David Wheldon.
Bodley Head, 176 pp., £5.95, March 1983, 0 370 30519 1
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Rates of Exchange 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Secker, 310 pp., £7.95, April 1983, 0 436 06505 3
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Milena 
by Maggie Ross.
Collins, 280 pp., £8.95, April 1983, 0 00 222602 2
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No Place on Earth 
by Christa Wolf, translated by Jan van Heurck.
Virago, 110 pp., £6.95, March 1983, 9780860683636
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Look at me 
by Anita Brookner.
Cape, 192 pp., £7.50, March 1983, 0 224 02055 2
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Not Not While the Giro and Other Stories 
by James Kelman.
Polygon, 207 pp., £3.95, March 1983, 9780904919653
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... to him. For Kleist, as imagined in No Place on Earth, ‘the passion which swept him away ... was the seduction of words far more than the need to communicate with any particular human being.’ In MalcolmBradbury’s Rates of Exchange, stories are a currency like any other, paper fictions: but for Bradbury’s novelist Katya Princip they are also a way of learning ‘a certain sense of existence ...
24 September 1992
Doctor Criminale 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Secker, 343 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 436 20115 1
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The Promise of Light 
by Paul Watkins.
Faber, 217 pp., £14.99, September 1992, 0 571 16715 2
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The Absolution Game 
by Paul Sayer.
Constable, 204 pp., £13.99, June 1992, 0 09 471460 6
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The Troublesome Offspring of Cardinal Guzman 
by Louis de Bernières.
Secker, 388 pp., £14.99, August 1992, 0 436 20114 3
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Written on the Body 
by Jeanette Winterson.
Cape, 190 pp., £13.99, September 1992, 0 224 03587 8
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... Schlossburg’, Southern Germany, site of one of the four conferences that feature in the novel. At Schlossburg, Henri Mensonge, scheduled to speak on the totally deconstructed self, fails to arrive: Bradbury loves a donnish joke. It all winds up with a postscript set in Norwich. At a staid University Teachers of English get-together George Steiner, Frank Kermode and Seamus Heaney do their party pieces ...

Last in the Funhouse

Patrick Parrinder

17 April 1986
Gerald’s Party 
by Robert Coover.
Heinemann, 316 pp., £10.95, April 1986, 0 434 14290 5
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Caracole 
by Edmund White.
Picador, 342 pp., £9.95, March 1986, 0 330 29291 9
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Lake Wobegon Days 
by Garrison Keillor.
Faber, 337 pp., £9.95, February 1986, 0 571 13846 2
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In Country 
by Bobbie Ann Mason.
Chatto, 245 pp., £9.95, March 1986, 0 7011 3034 2
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... pivotal event was the electrocution of the atom spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. The British edition of Gerald’s Party, Coover’s latest novel, comes larded with tributes from Angela Carter and MalcolmBradbury, both of whom insist on its canonical status. Coover is ‘a master’, says Carter, and according to Bradbury he is ‘one of the great innovative writers of the United States’. At least ...

Absent Authors

John Lanchester

15 October 1987
Criticism in Society 
by Imre Salusinszky.
Methuen, 244 pp., £15, May 1987, 0 416 92270 8
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Mensonge 
by Malcolm Bradbury.
Deutsch, 104 pp., £5.95, September 1987, 0 233 98020 2
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... that ‘there is no competition.’ If Henri Mensonge existed and spoke English, he would be a possible interview-subject for Imre Salusinszky. Unfortunately or otherwise, he is only a figment of MalcolmBradbury’s imagination: the legendarily invisible and absent author of La Fornication comme Acte Culturel, a Deconstructionist account of sex which includes within it ‘the Deconstruction of ...

Amigos

Christopher Ricks

2 August 1984
The Faber Book of Parodies 
edited by Simon Brett.
Faber, 383 pp., £8.95, May 1984, 0 571 13125 5
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Lilibet: An Account in Verse of the Early Years of the Queen until the Time of her Accession 
by Her Majesty.
Blond and Briggs, 95 pp., £6.95, May 1984, 0 85634 157 6
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... and flattery is not the sincerest form of imitation. It is the media-men and the culturalists who run this very contemporary show: Miles Kington and Russell Davies, Alan Coren and Clive James, MalcolmBradbury and George Melly. The parodied A’s have it: Douglas Adams (hitchhiking through a galaxy of fading stars), Woody Allen, Kingsley Amis, Anon, John Aubrey, Auden and Ayckbourn. An Auden ...

Moments

Marilyn Butler

2 September 1982
The New Pelican Guide to English Literature. Vol. I: Medieval Literature Part One: Chaucer and the Alliterative Tradition, Vol. II: The Age of Shakespeare, Vol. III: From Donne to Marvell, Vol. IV: From Dryden to Johnson 
edited by Boris Ford.
Penguin, 647 pp., £2.95, March 1982, 0 14 022264 2
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Medieval Writers and their Work: Middle English Literature and its Background 
by J.A. Burrow.
Oxford, 148 pp., £9.95, May 1982, 0 19 289122 7
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Contemporary Writers Series: Saul Bellow, Joe Orton, John Fowles, Kurt Vonnegut, Seamus Heaney, Thomas Pynchon 
by Malcolm Bradbury, C.W.E. Bigsby, Peter Conradi, Jerome Klinkowitz and Blake Morrison.
Methuen, 110 pp., £1.95, May 1982, 0 416 31650 6
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... fall into – like wanting poets to speak with a personal voice. His apologetics, which are intended to build a bridge to Medieval literature, may have the effect for some readers of distancing it. MalcolmBradbury’s series of monographs on modern authors sounds more positively convinced of the virtue of setting literature in period. It is boldly built upon a series of premises which tie texts to ...
4 June 1981
... that was supposed to be a kind of distillation of the post-Amis campus novel (three aspirant novelists are present at the occasion and taking notes on it) but which bears the impress especially of MalcolmBradbury’s Eating people is wrong (1959). Malcolm had come to the English Department at Birmingham in 1961, a year after me, and we quickly became friends and collaborators. In 1963 the two of us ...

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