If you could meet one deceased literary figure, who would that be? What would you ask? What would you say, and why? In AfterWord: Conjuring the Literary Dead, eighteen distinguished authors respond to this challenge by creating imagined conversations with a constellation of British and American authors, from Samuel Johnson to Jane Austen to Samuel Beckett to Edith Wharton.
Each chapter embarks on an intellectual, emotional, and often humorous voyage as the layers of time are peeled away, letting readers experience authors as they really were in their own era or, on occasion, transported to the present. As eccentric as it is eclectic, this collection takes the audience on a dizzying descent into a literary Inferno where biographers, novelists, and critics eat the food of the dead and return to tell the tale. Readers will take great pleasure in seeing what happens when scholars are loosed from the chains of fact and conduct imaginary interviews with deceased authors.
Covering 200 years of literary history, the essays in AfterWord draw upon the lifelong, consuming interest of the contributors, each fashioning a vivid, credible portrait of a vulnerable, driven, fully human character. As contributors appeal to what Margaret Atwood calls the deep human desire to “go to the land of the dead, to bring back to the living someone who has gone there,” readers are privy to questions that have seldom been asked, to incidents that have been suppressed, to some of the secrets that have puzzled readers for years, and to novel literary truths about the essential nature of each author.
Contributors to AfterWord are: Catherine Aird (on Rudyard Kipling), Brian Aldiss (on Thomas Hardy), Margaret Atwood (on negotiating with the dead), William M. Chace (on Ezra Pound), Nora Crook (on the Shelleys), Paul Delany (on George Gissing), Colin Dexter (on Alfred Edward Housman), Margaret Drabble (on Arnold Bennett), Peter Firchow (on George Orwell), Alan W. Friedman (on Samuel Beckett), Eugene Goodheart (on Jane Austen), John Halperin (on Edith Wharton), Francis King (on Oscar Wilde), Jeffrey Meyers (on Samuel Johnson), Cynthia Ozick (on Henry James), Jay Parini (on Robert Frost), Carl Rollyson (on William Faulkner), Dale Salwak and Laura Nagy (on literary imagination), Alan Sillitoe (on Joseph Conrad), and Ann Thwaite (on Frances Hodgson Burnett, Edmund Gosse, A. A. Milne, and Emily Tennyson).
In 1940 seven-year-old Tony Bailey was evacuated to the United States—one of more than 16,000 children sent overseas at a time when a Nazi invasion of England seemed inevitable. He spent four years with the wealthy Spaeth family in Dayton, Ohio, before returning to his parents in Southampton. Evocative, heartfelt, and charming, this is a story of a double childhood—of a boy who became American while never ceasing to be British.
"An original, sensitively told story in which the perspectives of the child are carefully remembered. . . . Bailey's book speaks, with gentle eloquence, not only to those who remember being boys, but to everyone who would seek to protect children from the hurts and ravagings that ordinary life can inflict, to say nothing of war." —Richard Montague, Newsday
"No doubt Tony Bailey owed America something for its hospitality during those anxious years, and with this book he has amply repaid the debt." —Joseph McLellan, Washington Post
"An exquisitely controlled, quietly amusing and moving story." —Publishers Weekly
"As tender as it is truthful, and as amusing as it is unpretentious." —John Russell, New York Times Book Review
After a century of critical neglect, poet and writer Amy Levy is gaining recognition as a literary figure of stature.
This definitive biography accompanied by her letters, along with the recent publication of her selected writings, provides a critical appreciation of Levy’s importance in her own time and in ours.
As an educated Jewish woman with homoerotic desires, Levy felt the strain of combating the structures of British society in the 1880s, the decade in which she built her career and moved in London’s literary and bohemian circles. Unwilling to cut herself off from her Jewish background, she had the additional burden of attempting to bridge the gap between communities.
In Amy Levy: Her Life and Letters Linda Hunt Beckman examines Levy’s writings and other cultural documents for insight into her emotional and intellectual life. This groundbreaking study introduces us to a woman well deserving of a place in literary and cultural history.
Arthur C. Clarke
Gary Westfahl University of Illinois Press, 2018 Library of Congress PR6005.L36Z95 2018 | Dewey Decimal 823.914
Already renowned for his science fiction and scientific nonfiction, Arthur C. Clarke became the world's most famous science fiction writer after the success of 2001: A Space Odyssey. He then produced novels like Rendezvous with Rama and The Fountains of Paradise that many regard as his finest works. Gary Westfahl closely examines Clarke's remarkable career, ranging from his forgotten juvenilia to the passages he completed for a final novel, The Last Theorem. As Westfahl explains, Clarke's science fiction offered original perspectives on subjects like new inventions, space travel, humanity's destiny, alien encounters, the undersea world, and religion. While not inclined to mysticism, Clarke necessarily employed mystical language to describe the fantastic achievements of advanced aliens and future humans. Westfahl also contradicts the common perception that Clarke's characters were bland and underdeveloped, arguing that these reticent, solitary individuals, who avoid conventional relationships, represent his most significant prediction of the future, as they embody the increasingly common lifestyle of people in the twenty-first century.
Samuel Johnson’s life was situated within a rich social and intellectual community of friendships—and antagonisms. Community and Solitude is a collection of ten essays that explore relationships between Johnson and several of his main contemporaries—including James Boswell, Edmund Burke, Frances Burney, Robert Chambers, Oliver Goldsmith, Bennet Langton, Arthur Murphy, Richard Savage, Anna Seward, and Thomas Warton—and analyzes some of the literary productions emanating from the pressures within those relationships. In their detailed and careful examination of particular works situated within complex social and personal contexts, the essays in this volume offer a “thick” and illuminating description of Johnson’s world that also engages with larger cultural and aesthetic issues, such as intertextuality, literary celebrity, narrative, the nature of criticism, race, slavery, and sensibility.
Contributors: Christopher Catanese, James Caudle, Marilyn Francus, Christine Jackson-Holzberg, Claudia Thomas Kairoff, Elizabeth Lambert, Anthony W. Lee, James E. May, John Radner, and Lance Wilcox.
Published by Bucknell University Press. Distributed worldwide by Rutgers University Press.
Though historians of English literature have long labeled the eighteenth century the golden age of letter writing, few have paid more than lip service to the unique epistolary craftsmanship of the period. Bruce Redford corrects this omission with the first sustained investigation of the eighteenth-century familiar letter as a literary form in its own right. His study supplies the reader with a critical approach and biographical perspective for appreciating the genre that defined an era.
Redford examines six masters of the "talking letter": Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, William Cowper, Thomas Gray, Horace Walpole, James Boswell, and Samuel Johnson. All seek the paradoxical goal of artful spontaneity. Each exploits the distinctive resources of the eighteenth-century letter writer: a flexible conversational manner, a repertoire of literary and social allusion, a flair for dramatic impersonation. The voices of these letter writers "make distance, presence," in Samuel Richardson's phrase, by devising substitutes for gesture, vocal inflection, and physical context, turning each letter into a performance—an act. The resulting verbal constructs create a mysterious tension between the claims of fact and the possibilities of art. Redford recovers a neglected literary form and makes possible a deeper understanding of major eighteenth-century writers who devoted much of their talent and time to "the converse of the pen."
"An impressive achievement. . . . Udelson provides a trenchant analysis of Zangwill's works set within a historical context, i.e., Jewish emancipation and the dilemma of how one might remain fully Jewish while becoming fully modern, that helps to illuminate Zangwill's life as well as his writings."
—Jewish Book News
"By carefully following the threads of Zangwill's own divided self through the labyrinths of his life and writings, Udelson convinces us not only of the author's startling political prescience, but that he embodies attitudes now shared by almost all secular Jews as a result of events Zangwill did not witness—Nazism and the founding of Israel."
Between 1905 and 1939 a conspicuously tall white man with a shock of red hair, dressed in a silk shirt and white linen trousers, could be seen on the streets of Onitsha, in Eastern Nigeria. How was itpossible for an unconventional, boy-loving Englishman to gain a social status among the local populace enjoyed by few other Europeans in colonial West Africa?In The Forger’s Tale: The Search for Odeziaku Stephanie Newell charts the story of the English novelist and poet John Moray Stuart-Young (1881-1939) as he traveled from the slums of Manchester to West Africa in order to escape the homophobic prejudices of late-Victorian society. Leaving behind acriminal record for forgery and embezzlement and his notoriety as a “spirit rapper,” Stuart-Young found a new identity as a wealthy palm oil trader and acelebrated author, known to Nigerians as “Odeziaku.”In this fascinating biographical account, Newell draws on queer theory, African gender debates, and “new imperial history” to open up a wider studyof imperialism, (homo)sexuality, and nonelite culture between the 1880s and the late 1930s. The Forger’s Tale pays close attention to different forms of West African cultural production in the colonial period and to public debates about sexuality and ethics, as well as to movements in mainstreamEnglish literature.
In January 1930 Her Privates We appeared in London, advertised as "a record of experience on the Somme and Ancre fronts in 1916" from the pen of "Private 10922, a well known man of letters, already distinguished in another kind of literature." Reviewers praised the novel as the most accurate and moving portrayal yet rendered of the common soldier, and the work quickly became a bestseller. Shortly thereafter the author was revealed as Frederic Manning, a reclusive and little-known author of narrative poetry, philosophical dialogues, and works on Epicurus. An early contributor to Criterion, Manning enjoyed considerable esteem among his peers—T. E. Lawrence, Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, and T. S. Eliot, among others. How did a classical and noncommercial author come to write a grittily realistic war novel? Manning fled from the attendant publicity, avoiding the limelight assiduously and successfully. Marwil's search for the answer to this riddle and for the details of his life (in some ways the search is as interesting and revealing as the results) and his account of Manning's life and work reveal a great deal of the intellectual and social world of Edwardian and Georgian England.
Gentle Flame recounts the life and presents for the first time the hitherto unknown poetry of Dudley, Fourth Lord North. Born during the reign of Elizabeth I, reared in that of James I, elected to Parliament under Charles I, and retired to his country seat during the time of Charles II, the life an poetry of the Fourth Lord North deepens present-day understanding of an age that saw much social change.
Denton Welch (1915–48) died at the age of thirty-three after a brief but brilliant career as a writer and painter. The revealing, poignant, impressionistic voice that buoys his novels was much praised by critics and literati in England and has since inspired creative artists from William S. Burroughs to John Waters. His achievements were all the more remarkable because he suffered from debilitating spinal and pelvic injuries incurred in a bicycle accident at age eighteen.
Though German bombs were ravaging Britain, Welch wrote in his published work about the idyllic landscapes and local people he observed in Kent. There, in 1943, he met and fell in love with Eric Oliver, a handsome, intelligent, but rather insecure "landboy"—an agricultural worker with the wartime Land Army. Oliver would become a companion, comrade, lover, and caretaker during the last six years of Welch's life. All fifty-one letters that Welch wrote to Oliver are collected and annotated here for the first time. They offer a historical record of life amidst the hardship, deprivation, and fear of World War II, and also are a timeless testament of one young man's tender and intimate emotions, his immense courage in adversity, and his continual struggle for love and creative existence.
Nineteenth century writers and reformers Frances Trollope and Frances Wright have always been viewed as ideological opposites. In Common Cause: The "Conservative" Frances Trollope and the "Radical" Frances Wright looks at their political commonalities rather than their differences. It traces the way in which these two women have been stereotyped and denigrated for over 100 years. It considers the many contributions of both women to the most significant political movements of their times: anti-slavery; women's rights; and industrial reform.
Edward John Thompson—novelist, poet, journalist, and historian of India—was a liberal advocate for Indian culture and political self-determination at a time when Indian affairs were of little general interest in England. As a friend of Nehru, Gandhi, and other Congress Party leaders, Thompson had contacts that many English officials did not have and did not know how to get. Thus, he was an excellent channel for interpreting India to England and England to India.
Thompson first went to India in 1910 as a Methodist missionary to teach English literature at Bankura Wesleyan College. It was there that he cultivated the literary circle of Rabindranath Tagore, as yet little known in England, and there Thompson learned of the political contradictions and deficiencies of India's educational system. His major conflict, personal and professional, was the lingering influence of Victorian Wesleyanism. In 1923, Thompson resigned and returned to teach at Oxford.
Interest in South Asia studies was minimal at Oxford, and Thompson turned increasingly to writing Indian history. That work, and his unique account of his experiences in the Mesopotamian campaign in World War I, supply a viewpoint found nowhere else, as well as personal views of literary figures such as Robert Graves and Robert Bridges. Thompson was also a major influence on the work of his son, E. P. Thompson, a modern historian of eighteenth-century England.
This important biography covers politically significant events between Thompson's arrival in India and up to his death, and casts considerable light on Thompson and his struggles with his religion and his relationship with India. The first biography of E. J. Thompson, "India's Prisoner" will have widespread appeal, especially to those interested in South Asian and English history, literature, and cultural history.
Inventing Edward Lear
Sara Lodge Harvard University Press, 2019 Library of Congress PR4879.L2Z75 2019 | Dewey Decimal 700.92
Edward Lear—the father of nonsense—wrote some of the best-loved poems in English. He was also admired as a naturalist, landscape painter, travel writer, and composer. Awkward but funny, absurdly sympathetic, Lear invented himself as a Victorian character. Sara Lodge offers a moving account of one of the era’s most influential creative figures.
In the looming shadow of dictatorship and imminent war, George Seferis and George Katsimbalis welcomed Henry Miller and Lawrence Durrell to their homeland. Together, as they spent evenings in tavernas, explored the Peloponnese, and considered the meaning of Greek life and freedom and art, they seemed to be inventing paradise. This blend of memoir, criticism, and storytelling takes readers on a journey into the poetry, friendships, and politics of an extraordinary time.
The great English writer and gardener John Evelyn (1620–1706) kept a diary all his life. Today, this diary is considered an invaluable source of information on more than fifty years of social, cultural, religious, and political life in seventeenth-century England. Evelyn’s work is often overshadowed by the literary contributions of his contemporary and friend, Samuel Pepys. This new biography changes that.
John Dixon Hunt takes a fresh look at the life and work of one of England’s greatest diarists, focusing particularly on Evelyn’s “domesticity.” The book explores Evelyn’s life at home, and perhaps even more importantly, his domestication of foreign ideas and practices in England. During the English Civil Wars, Evelyn traveled extensively throughout Europe, taking in ideas on the management of estate design while abroad to apply them in England. Evelyn’s greatest accomplishment was the import of European garden art to the UK, a feat Hunt puts into context alongside a range of Evelyn’s social and ethical thinking. Illustrated with visual material from Evelyn’s time and from his own pen, the book is an ideal introduction to a hugely important figure in the shaping of early modern Britain.
Jad Adams Haus Publishing, 2005 Library of Congress PR4856.A53 2005 | Dewey Decimal 828.809
Joseph Rudyard Kipling was the greatest writer in a Britain that ruled the largest empire the world has known, yet he was always a controversial figure, as deeply hated as he was loved. This accessible biography aims at an understanding of the man behind the image and gives an explanation of his enduring popularity
Margaret Storm Jameson (1891–1986) is primarily known as a compelling essayist; her stature as a novelist and champion of the dispossessed is largely forgotten. In Life in the Writings of Storm Jameson, Elizabeth Maslen reveals a figure who held her own beside fellow British women writers, including Virginia Woolf; anticipated the Angry Young Women, such as Doris Lessing; and was an early champion of such European writers as Arthur Koestler and Czeslaw Milosz. Jameson was a complex character whose politics were grounded in social justice; she was passionately antifascist—her novel In the Second Year (1936) raised the alarm about Nazism—but always wary of communism. An eloquent polemicist, Jameson was, as president of the British P.E.N. during the 1930s and 1940s, of invaluable assistance to refugee writers. Elizabeth Maslen’s biography introduces a true twentieth century hedgehog, whose essays and subtly experimental fiction were admired in Europe and the States.
Although the literary circle is widely recognized as a significant feature of Renaissance literary culture, it has received remarkably little examination. In this collection of essays, the authors attempt to explain literary circles and cultural communities in Renaissance England by exploring both actual and imaginary ways in which they were conceived and the various needs they fulfilled. The book also pays considerable attention to larger theoretical issues relating to literary circles.
The essayists raise important questions about the extent to which literary circles were actual constructs or fictional creations. Whether illuminating or limiting, the circle metaphor itself can be extended or reformulated. Some of the authors discuss how particular circles actually operated, and some question the very concept of the literary circle. Literary Circles and Cultural Communities in Renaissance England will be an important addition to seventeenth-century studies.
In a series of intriguing routes through the English countryside, Professor Robert Cooper notes those attractions that the casual tourist might unknowingly pass by, such as the house where Dickens wrote A Tale of Two Cities, or the windswept quay where John Fowles's French Lieutenant's woman walked. Maps and information about restaurants and accommodations give the traveler the opportunity of having pints of “half and half” where Jane Austen dined or visiting the pub where Blake’s scuffle led to his trial for treason.
This newly revised and updated edition of Robert Cooper's acclaimed handbook combines the utility of current travel information with the appeal of literary history, biography, and anecdote in a leisurely and flavorful guide to the broad sweep of southern England outside of London. A rich and reliable guide to the landscape that fostered one of our most cherished cultures, The Literary Guide and Companion to Southern England is an indispensable resource for those who wish to experience literature firsthand.
Dashingly told and meticulously researched, this double biography of D. H. Lawrence and his wife Frieda von Richthofen is the first to draw fully on Frieda’s unpublished letters and on interviews with people who knew her well. It explores their collision with an industrial world they hated and chronicles the stormy relationship between husband and wife. The strong sexual vitality that inspired Lawrence’s art brought both joy and anguish to his marriage. Here, the Lawrences emerge as proud but not conceited in their unconventional lives, staunch in the face of fierce opposition from a conformist society. Living at the Edge follows the separate lives of Lawrence and Frieda up to their first meeting in 1912. Tracing their new life together, it depicts their grateful escape from the English Midlands; their discovery of exotic places where they made temporary homes—Italy, Cornwall, Australia, New Mexico, and Mexico; Lawrence’s courageous battle against illness; and, after his death in 1930, Frieda’s success in recreating the simple life on ranches near Taos, New Mexico, where she died in 1956.
At the center of their story is Lawrence’s literary career. Biographers Squires and Talbot see Lawrence’s major novels—The Rainbow, Women in Love, Lady Chatterley’s Lover—as a fresh way to understand his turbulent and conflicted life. They reveal the extreme care with which he rewrote his personal experience to satisfy his deepest needs, and they introduce the many influential people who entered the Lawrences’ lives and work. The rich materials from Frieda’s letters reveal a different Lawrence—more difficult as a man but more interesting as an artist; they also reveal a different Frieda—more vibrant as a woman, more substantial as a companion. This superb biography gives both Lawrence and Frieda striking new dimensions.
Loving Dr. Johnson
Helen Deutsch University of Chicago Press, 2005 Library of Congress PR3533.D46 2005 | Dewey Decimal 828.609
The autopsy of Samuel Johnson (1709-84) initiated two centuries of Johnsonian anatomy-both in medical speculation about his famously unruly body and in literary devotion to his anecdotal remains. Even today, Johnson is an enduring symbol of individuality, authority, masculinity, and Englishness, ultimately lending a style and a name—the Age of Johnson—to the eighteenth-century English literary canon.
Loving Dr. Johnson uses the enormous popularity of Johnson to understand a singular case of author love and to reflect upon what the love of authors has to do with the love of literature. Helen Deutsch's work is driven by several impulses, among them her affection for both Johnson's work and Boswell's biography of him, and her own distance from the largely male tradition of Johnsonian criticism—a tradition to which she remains indebted and to which Loving Dr. Johnson is ultimately an homage. Limning sharply Johnson's capacious oeuvre, Deutsch's study is also the first of its kind to examine the practices and rituals of Johnsonian societies around the world, wherein Johnson's literary work is now dwarfed by the figure of the writer himself.
An absorbing look at one iconic author and his afterlives, Loving Dr. Johnson will be of enormous value to students of English literature and literary scholars keenly interested in canon formation.
Robert E Sullivan Harvard University Press, 2009 Library of Congress DA3.M3S85 2009 | Dewey Decimal 941.081092
On the 150th anniversary of the death of the English historian and politician Thomas Babington Macaulay, Robert Sullivan offers a portrait of a Victorian life that probes the cost of power, the practice of empire, and the impact of ideas. Devoting his huge talents to gaining power - above all for England and its empire - made Macaulay's life a tragedy. Sullivan offers an unsurpassed study of an afflicted genius and a thoughtful meditation on the modern ethics of power.
Orwell: Life and Art
Jeffrey Meyers University of Illinois Press, 2010 Library of Congress PR6029.R8Z73555 2010 | Dewey Decimal 828.91209
This remarkable volume collects, for the first time, essays representing more than four decades of scholarship by one of the world's leading authorities on George Orwell. In clear, energetic prose that exemplifies his indefatigable attention to Orwell's life work, Jeffrey Meyers analyzes the works and reception of one of the most widely read and admired twentieth-century authors.
Orwell: Life and Art covers the novelist's painful childhood and presents accounts of his autobiographical writings from the beginning of his career through the Spanish Civil War. Meyers continues with analyses of Orwell's major works, including Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four, as well as his style, distinctive satiric humor, and approach to the art of writing. Meyers ends with a scrupulous examination of six biographies of Orwell, including his own, that embodies a consummate grasp and mastery of both the art of biography and Orwell's life and legacy.
Writing with an authority born of decades of focused scholarship, visits to Orwell's homes and workplaces, and interviews with his survivors, Meyers sculpts a dynamic view of Orwell's enduring influence on literature, art, culture, and politics.
Though underexplored in contemporary scholarship, the Victorian attempts to turn aesthetics into a science remain one of the most fascinating aspects of that era. In The Outward Mind, Benjamin Morgan approaches this period of innovation as an important origin point for current attempts to understand art or beauty using the tools of the sciences. Moving chronologically from natural theology in the early nineteenth century to laboratory psychology in the early twentieth, Morgan draws on little-known archives of Victorian intellectuals such as William Morris, Walter Pater, John Ruskin, and others to argue that scientific studies of mind and emotion transformed the way writers and artists understood the experience of beauty and effectively redescribed aesthetic judgment as a biological adaptation. Looking beyond the Victorian period to humanistic critical theory today, he also shows how the historical relationship between science and aesthetics could be a vital resource for rethinking key concepts in contemporary literary and cultural criticism, such as materialism, empathy, practice, and form. At a moment when the tumultuous relationship between the sciences and the humanities is the subject of ongoing debate, Morgan argues for the importance of understanding the arts and sciences as incontrovertibly intertwined.
Vita Sackville-West, novelist, poet, and biographer, is best known as the friend of Virginia Woolf, who transformed her into an androgynous time-traveler in Orlando. The story of Sackville-West's marriage to Harold Nicolson is one of intrigue and bewilderment. In Portrait of a Marriage, their son Nigel combines his mother's memoir with his own explanations and what he learned from their many letters. Even during her various love affairs with women, Vita maintained a loving marriage with Harold. Portrait of a Marriage presents an often misunderstood but always fascinating couple.
"Portrait of a Marriage is as close to a cry from the heart as anybody writing in English in our time has come, and it is a cry that, once heard, is not likely ever to be forgotten. . . . Unexpected and astonishing."—Brendan Gill, New Yorker
"The charm of this book lies in the elegance of its narration, the taste with which their son has managed to convey the real, enduring quality of his parents' love for each other."—Doris Grumbach, New Republic
In 1849—months before the term “confidence man” was coined to identify a New York crook—Thomas Powell (1809–1887), a spherical, monocled, English poetaster, dramatist, journalist, embezzler, and forger, landed in Manhattan. Powell in London had capped a career of grand theft and literary peccadilloes by feigning a suicide attempt and having himself committed to a madhouse, after which he fled England. He had been an intimate of William Wordsworth, Elizabeth Barrett, Robert Browning, Charles Dickens, and a crowd of lesser literary folk.
Thoughtfully bearing what he presented as a volume of Tennyson with a few trifling revisions in the hand of the poet, Powell was embraced by the slavishly Anglophile New York literary establishment, including a young Herman Melville. In two pot-boilers—The Living Authors of England (1849) and The Living Authors of America (1850)—Powell denounced the most revered American author, Washington Irving, for plagiarism; provoked Charles Dickens to vengeful trans-Atlantic outrage and then panic; and capped his insolence by identified Irving and Melville as the two worst “enemies of the American mind.” For almost four more decades he sniped at Dickens, put words in Melville’s mouth, and survived even the most conscientious efforts to expose him. Long fascinated by this incorrigible rogue, Hershel Parker in The Powell Papers uses a few familiar documents and a mass of freshly discovered material (including a devastating portrait of Powell in a serialized novel) to unfold a captivating tale of skullduggery through the words of great artists and then-admired journalists alike.
Meet Netley Lucas, Prince of Tricksters—royal biographer, best-selling crime writer, and gentleman crook. In the years after the Great War, Lucas becomes infamous for climbing the British social ladder by his expert trickery—his changing names and telling of tales. An impudent young playboy and a confessed confidence trickster, he finances his far-flung hedonism through fraud and false pretenses. After repeated spells in prison, Lucas transforms himself into a confessing “ex-crook,” turning his inside knowledge of the underworld into a lucrative career as freelance journalist and crime expert. But then he’s found out again—exposed and disgraced for faking an exclusive about a murder case. So he reinvents himself, taking a new name and embarking on a prolific, if short-lived, career as a royal biographer and publisher. Chased around the world by detectives and journalists after yet another sensational scandal, the gentleman crook dies as spectacularly as he lived—a washed-up alcoholic, asphyxiated in a fire of his own making.
The lives of Netley Lucas are as flamboyant as they are unlikely. In Prince of Tricksters, Matt Houlbrook picks up the threads of Lucas’s colorful lies and lives. Interweaving crime writing and court records, letters and life-writing, Houlbrook tells Lucas’s fascinating story and, in the process, provides a panoramic view of the 1920s and ’30s. In the restless times after the Great War, the gentlemanly trickster was an exemplary figure, whose tall tales and bogus biographies exposed the everyday difficulties of knowing who and what to trust. Tracing how Lucas both evoked and unsettled the world through which he moved, Houlbrook shows how he prompted a pervasive crisis of confidence that encompassed British society, culture, and politics.
Taking readers on a romp through Britain, North America, and eventually into Africa, Houlbrook confronts readers with the limits of our knowledge of the past and challenges us to think anew about what history is and how it might be made differently.
From 1890 to 1960, some of Anglo-America’s most heated cultural contests over books, sex, and censorship were staged not at home, but abroad in the City of Light. Paris, with its extraordinary liberties of expression, became a special place for interrogating the margins of sexual culture and literary censorship, and a wide variety of English language “dirty books” circulated through loose expatriate publishing and distribution networks. A Publisher’s Paradise explores the political and literary dynamics that gave rise to this expatriate cultural flourishing, which included everything from Victorian pornography to the most daring and controversial modernist classics. Colette Colligan tracks the British and French politicians and diplomats who policed Paris editions of banned books and uncovers offshore networks of publishers, booksellers, authors, and readers. She looks closely at the stories the “dirty books” told about this publishing haven and the smut peddlers and literary giants it brought together in transnational cultural formations. The book profiles an eclectic group of expatriates living and publishing in Paris, from relatively obscure figures such as Charles Carrington, whose list included both The Picture of Dorian Gray and the pornographic novel Randiana, to bookshop owner Sylvia Beach, famous for publishing James Joyce’s Ulysses in 1922. A Publisher’s Paradise is a compelling exploration of the little-known history of foreign pornography in Paris and the central role it played in turning the city into a modernist outpost for literary and sexual vanguardism, a reputation that still lingers today in our cultural myths of midnight in Paris.
Lawrence Lipking Harvard University Press, 1998 Library of Congress PR3533.L56 1998 | Dewey Decimal 828.609
Tracing Samuel Johnson's rocky climb from anonymity to fame, in the course of which he came to stand for both the greatness of English literature and the good sense of the common reader, Lipking shows how this life transformed the very nature of authorship.
Robert Douglas-Fairhurst illuminates two entangled lives: the Oxford mathematician Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) and Alice Liddell, the child for whom he invented the Alice stories. This relationship influenced Carroll’s imaginative creation of Wonderland—a sheltered world apart during the stormy transition from the Victorian to the modern era.
Mark Ford Harvard University Press, 2016 Library of Congress PR4753.F67 2016 | Dewey Decimal 823.8
Because Thomas Hardy’s poetry and fiction are so closely associated with Wessex, it is easy to forget that he was, in his own words, half a Londoner, moving between country and capital throughout his life. This self-division, Mark Ford says, can be traced not only in works explicitly set in London but in his most regionally circumscribed novels.
To earn the reputation of a literary giant within the generation of Waugh, Orwell, and Greene is no mean feat. To do so with the grace and genius that characterized Anthony Powell—whose twelve-volume A Dance to the Music of Time is possibly the only English-language work to match the majestic scope of Proust's Remembrance of Things Past—is nothing short of spectacular. Yet Powell himself remains absent from his writing; he was, said the New York Times, "a writer of mordant succinctness who rewards the reader while revealing little of himself."
Powell did eventually reveal himself in four volumes of memoirs, published between 1976 and 1982. This edition of Anthony Powell's Memoirs is an abridged and revised version of those volumes, a version that has never before been published in this form in the United States. The result is not only a fascinating view of Powell as a man and an author but also a unique history of British literary society and the social elite Powell lampooned and moved within from the twenties through the eighties. From Eton and Oxford to his life as a novelist and critic, Powell observes all—the obscenity trial sparked by Lady Chatterley's Lover; Shirley Temple's libel suit after Graham Greene reviewed Wee Willie Winkie "with even more than his usual verve"—and paints vivid portraits of Kingsley Amis, V.S. Naipaul, T.S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf, and countless others. Most importantly, Powell's lively memoirs banish all thought of the man as a relic of the British gentry. He was a modernist, a Tory, and more than a little interested in genealogy and peerage, but a man who, according to Ferdinand Mount, "miraculously knew what life was like."
Histories of autobiography in England often assume the genre hardly existed before 1600. But Tudor Autobiography investigates eleven sixteenth-century English writers who used sermons, a saint’s biography, courtly and popular verse, a traveler’s report, a history book, a husbandry book, and a supposedly fictional adventure novel to share the secrets of the heart and tell their life stories.
In the past such texts have not been called autobiographies because they do not reveal much of the inwardness of their subject, a requisite of most modern autobiographies. But, according to Meredith Anne Skura, writers reveal themselves not only by what they say but by how they say it. Borrowing methods from affective linguistics, narratology, and psychoanalysis, Skura shows that a writer’s thoughts and feelings can be traced in his or her language. Rejecting the search for “the early modern self” in life writing, Tudor Autobiography instead asks what authors said about themselves, who wrote about themselves, how, and why. The result is a fascinating glimpse into a range of lived and imagined experience that challenges assumptions about life and autobiography in the early modern period.
The sexual exploitation of children by adults has a long, fraught history. Yet how cultures have reacted to it is shaped by a range of forces, beliefs, and norms, like any other social phenomenon. Changes in how Anglo-American culture has understood intergenerational sex can be seen with startling clarity in the life of British writer Norman Douglas (1868–1952), who was a beloved and popular author, a friend of luminaries like Graham Greene, Aldous Huxley, and D.H. Lawrence, and an unrepentant and uncloseted pederast. Rachel Hope Cleves’s careful study opens a window onto the social history of intergenerational sex in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, revealing how charisma, celebrity, and contemporary standards protected Douglas from punishment—until they didn’t.
Unspeakable approaches Douglas as neither monster nor literary hero, but as a man who participated in an exploitative sexual subculture that was tolerated in ways we may find hard to understand. Using letters, diaries, memoirs, police records, novels, and photographs—including sources by the children Douglas encountered—Cleves identifies the cultural practices that structured pedophilic behaviors in England, Italy, and other places Douglas favored. Her book delineates how approaches to adult-child sex have changed over time and offers insight into how society can confront similar scandals today, celebrity and otherwise.
When Margaret Thatcher called in 1979 for a return to Victorian values such as hard work, self-reliance, thrift, and national pride, Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock responded that “Victorian values” also included “cruelty, misery, drudgery, squalor, and ignorance.”
The Victorians in the Rearview Mirror is an in-depth look at the ways that the twentieth century reacted to and reimagined its predecessor. It considers how the Victorian inheritance has been represented in literature, politics, film, and visual culture; the ways in which modernists and progressives have sought to differentiate themselves from an image of the Victorian; and how conservatives (and some liberals) have sought to revive elements of nineteenth-century life. Nostalgic and critical impulses combine to fix an understanding of the Victorians in the popular imagination.
Simon Joyce examines heritage culture, contemporary politics, and the “neo-Dickensian” novel to offer a more affirmative assessment of the Victorian legacy, one that lets us imagine a model of social interconnection and interdependence that has come under threat in today’s politics and culture.
Although more than one hundred years have passed since the death of Queen Victoria, the impact of her time is still fresh. The Victorians in the Rearview Mirror speaks to diverse audiences in literary and cultural studies, in addition to those interested in visual culture and contemporary politics, and situates detailed close readings of literary and cinematic texts in the context of a larger argument about the legacies of an era not as distant as we might like to think.
Arthur Munby (1828–1910) was a Victorian gentleman from a respected family of Yorkshire lawyers. He left behind diaries that record his life-long obsession with working-class Victorian women, whom he interviewed, photographed and wrote about. This obsession led to his relationship with, and eventual secret marriage to, his maidservant Hannah Cullwick.
Working women fascinated Munby because they disrupted his Victorian ideal of femininity: their bodies were altered by physical exertion and dirt, and they were also often deformed by disease. Drawing not only on the diaries but also on a vast, untapped archive of documents, photographs, poems and sketches, Watching Hannah is far more than an account of a compulsive observer of working women and a fetishist of hard-working female hands, however. The author analyzes Munby's obsessions in relation to changing definitions of gender, sexual identity and class to reveal wider male preoccupations with femininity, the body, deformity, masculinity and – most of all – sexuality, at a pivotal point in European history.
Working Fictions takes as its point of departure the common and painful truth that the vast majority of human beings toil for a wage and rarely for their own enjoyment or satisfaction. In this striking reconceptualization of Victorian literary history, Carolyn Lesjak interrogates the relationship between labor and pleasure, two concepts that were central to the Victorian imagination and the literary output of the era. Through the creation of a new genealogy of the “labor novel,” Lesjak challenges the prevailing assumption about the portrayal of work in Victorian fiction, namely that it disappears with the fall from prominence of the industrial novel. She proposes that the “problematic of labor” persists throughout the nineteenth century and continues to animate texts as diverse as Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mary Barton, George Eliot’s Felix Holt and Daniel Deronda, Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations, and the essays and literary work of William Morris and Oscar Wilde.
Lesjak demonstrates how the ideological work of the literature of the Victorian era, the “golden age of the novel,” revolved around separating the domains of labor and pleasure and emphasizing the latter as the proper realm of literary representation. She reveals how the utopian works of Morris and Wilde grapple with this divide and attempt to imagine new relationships between work and pleasure, relationships that might enable a future in which work is not the antithesis of pleasure. In Working Fictions, Lesjak argues for the contemporary relevance of the “labor novel,” suggesting that within its pages lie resources with which to confront the gulf between work and pleasure that continues to characterize our world today.