Father & Son: Kingsley Amis, Martin Amis, and the British Novel Since 1950
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this innovative study of two of England's most popular, controversial, and influential writers breaks new ground in examining the relationship between Kingsley Amis and his son, Martin Amis. Through intertextual readings of their essays and novels, Gavin Keulks examines how the Amises' work negotiated the boundaries of their personal relationship while claiming territory in the literary debate between mimesis and modernist aesthetics. Theirs was a battle over the nature of reality itself, a twentieth-century realism war conducted by loving family members and rival, antithetical writers. Keulks argues that the Amises' relationship functioned as a source of literary inspiration and that their work illuminates many of the structural and stylistic shifts that have characterized the British novel since 1950.
Drabble also suggests itself, as do the impressive brothers Shiva and v. S. NaipauL But by and large, the production of literary works has historically remained a solitary and exclusive endeavor, conducive more to the garret than to the hearth. Perhaps it should come as no surprise, then, that the history of Western literature provides few examples of father-son pairs. Alexandre Dumas pere etfils spring first to mind, followed closely by Evelyn and Auberon Waugh. But then the mind falters.
permanent soul. Such a perspective was available to my father's poetry but not to his fiction, which is firmly social, quotidian and end-stopped; his world, in a judgement of John Updike's that I cannot get out of my head, is 'stiflingly human."'35 By historical coincidence, LuckyJim would appear soon after one of Bellow's most respected works - The Adventures ofAugie March (1953)and we can glimpse the two men's antithetical approaches through Kingsley's review of that novel in the Spectator.
to her earlier works, it seemed morally deficient, uncomfortably championing the verities of class and status instead of satirically reappraising them. Arguing that an aesthetic hollowness resounded throughout Austen's characterizations, Kingsley lamented that the author had sacrificed her usual equipoise for didacticism. Although he admitted to liking the novel's "invigorating coldness" and praised its dialogue -which seemed to reach "new heights of flexibility and awareness" that anticipated
characterizations. Whereas Kingsley faulted Waugh for extraliterary issues, specifically those of class and religion, Martin's concerns remained exclusively artistic- matters of style and voice. For Martin, the book's failing stemmed not from ideology but from structural imbalance and stylistic cliche, the same demerits that had, to his thinking, previously handicapped the work ofJane Austen and Philip Roth. He began by calling Brideshead Revisited "a problem comedy, like Mansfield Park," and
profession: "Older writers should find younger writers inimical," he explains, "because younger writers are sending them an unwelcome message. They are saying, 'It's not like that anymore. It's like this.' In the present context, 'that' and 'this' can be loosely described as the thought-rhythms peculiar to your time. Implicit in these thought-rhythms are certain values, moral and aesthetic."27 As Martin is no doubt aware, his comments summon a number of important literary dynamics. First, his