That Hideous Strength: A Modern Fairy-Tale for Grown-ups by C.S. Lewis (1945)

‘A conscious being is either obeying God or disobeying Him.’ Dr Dimble That Hideous Strength is the third and final volume in C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy. As is so often the case in concluding volumes, it is significantly longer than the previous members of the series (Out of The Silent Planet 58,715 words, Perelandra 85,376 words, That Hideous Strength 156,719 words, […]

Deaf Sentence by David Lodge (2008)

An autobiographical author Lodge’s novels are strongly autobiographical and, laid end to end, build up to the portrait of a certain type of life and its possibilities – in a quiet way, he has recorded the experience of a generation. Out of the Shelter describes the boyhood and teenage years of the son of suburban south […]

Peeping Tom by Howard Jacobson (1984)

Review one If being in love isn’t being terrified I don’t know what is. (p.185) Barney Fugelman, anxious, guilty, literary Jewish layabout, aged 27 in 1967, is married to heavy-breasted numerologist Sharon, who runs a bookshop specialising in spirituality (Zazie’s dans le Metro), in Finchley. When they invite hypnotist Harry Vilbert to come and do an […]

Coming From Behind by Howard Jacobson (1982)

[Sefton] had a highly developed respect for authority and even the slightest telling off made him feel queasy. He didn’t at all like this submissive quality in himself and he tried to disguise it by barking at menials whenever he could and by bullying and frightening students, but in the still reaches of the night, […]

The Russian Girl by Kingsley Amis (1992)

Richard had reached a kind of steady state of indecision. Everything that had happened seemed to make it harder to know what to do about anything. (p.179) Richard Vaisey’s circle Another novel set among the professional middle classes in London, this time focusing on Dr Richard Vaisey, lecturer in Russian Literature at the (fictional) London […]

Wilt by Tom Sharpe (1976)

Wilt is probably Tom Sharpe’s best-known novel. Its opening sentence is: Whenever Henry Wilt took the dog for a walk, or, to be more accurate, when the dog took him, or, to be exact, when Mrs Wilt told them both to go and take themselves out of the house so that she could do her […]

Therapy by David Lodge (1995)

One of the depressing things about depression is knowing that there are lots of people in the world with far more reason to feel depressed than you have, and finding that, so far from making you snap out of your depression, it only makes you despise yourself more and thus feel more depressed. (p.107) This […]

Small World by David Lodge (1984)

‘I was telling a young guy at the conference just this morning. The day of the single, static campus is over.’ ‘And the single, static campus novel with it, I suppose?’ ‘Exactly! Even two campuses wouldn’t be enough. Scholars these days are like the errant knights of old, wandering the ways of the world in […]

Changing Places by David Lodge (1975)

This is Lodge’s fifth novel and the one that made his name and cemented his reputation as a leading exponent of the ‘campus novel’ ie comic novels depicting the foibles and absurdities of modern university life. It is a comic masterpiece, still very funny 40 years later. It won the Hawthornden Prize and the Yorkshire […]

The Temptation of Saint Anthony by Gustave Flaubert (1874)

These images appear suddenly, as in flashes – outlined against the background of the night, like scarlet paintings executed upon ebony. Saint Anthony Saint Anthony a.k.a Anthony the Great (c. 251 – 356) was a Christian monk and visionary who reacted against the increasing acceptance and normalisation of Christianity throughout the Roman Empire by becoming, first […]