the Life of Kingsley Amis
A non fiction book by Richard Bradford
The works of the late Kingsley Amis will surely stand as some of the most original and brilliantly crafted contributions to post-war English fiction. Yet, in the light of his recently published Letters and Martin Amis's Experience, it would appear that our understanding of this writer needs to be entirely re-thought. Kingsley Amis frequently affirmed that his fiction was not based on his life; he even issued an elaborate note of denial in a TLS essay called 'Real and Made-up People'; if some parallels were obvious (Jim Dixon in Lucky Jim was, like his creator an impoverished young academic in a provincial university), they were hardly worth comment, and the one novel by that time - 1973 - that was based on real people and actual events (I Like It Here) was written 'out of laziness or sagging invention' and was 'by common consent, my worst'. However Professor Richard Bradford would argue in this book, the first serious study of the writer in almost a decade and the first to incorporate his Letters, that Amis's fiction stands as one of the most entertaining and thought-provoking autobiographies ever produced. He demonstates that there exists a dynamic relationship between what Kingsley Amis did, thought, experienced and what he wrote. His literary skills were tested and extended in their dealings with the confounding, puzzling panorama of his life. Richard Bradford makes clear that a trawl through reviews of both the Letters and Experience reveals a significant distortion of the facts about Amis in the interests of PC dogma; he believes that it is not possible to offer a comprehensive picture of Kingsley Amis the man, as husband, philanderer, friend, father, jester, boozer, agnostic, pseudo-socialist and club-land Tory, without considering the relationship between what we know and that private world in which what he knew was re-examined, re-modelled and written.
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