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Issue 10 – Easter 2022


Kingsley Amis

On the English novelist.


The British post-war cultural scene was rich in writers—Anthony Burgess, Iris Murdoch, Muriel Spark, Philip Larkin, Ted Hughes, and my own favorite, Kingsley Amis. It’s probably a good job, however, that many of his works aren’t generally in print, as they’d surely leave many students and lecturers running a mile. The attitudes on parade in Amis’s novels are very much, shall we say, of their time and harden in the end into a sort of caricatured Garrick Club gruffness, or a Colonel Blimpishness, with the purple-faced author harrumphing over his pipe, complaining about how the world has gone to the dogs.

And those attitudes of Amis’s are indeed nevertheless startling, even to his admirers. Amis was always misogynistic and chauvinistic. Take a Girl Like You, for example, published in 1960, is about how the arrogant Patrick Standish is “justified” in behaving as he behaves if the female in question, Jenny Bunn, is beautiful and provocative.

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About the author

Roger Lewis

Roger Lewis is the author of Anthony Burgess: A Biography. He writes regularly for the Times and other British newspapers.

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