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Father and Son

Kingsley Amis, Martin Amis, and the British Novel since 1950

Gavin Keulks

Publication Year: 2003

An innovative study of two of England’s most popular, controversial, and influential writers, Father and Son 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.

Published by: University of Wisconsin Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. vi-vii

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pp. viii

As with all scholarly works, numerous people have helped shape my ideas. Special thanks go to Jonathan Allison, John Cawelti, and Steven Weisenburger, all ofwhom offered invaluable advice in the early stages of composition. James Diedrick, Jerome Meckier, and Dale Salwak similarly deserve commendation ...

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Introduction: The Amises, Tradition, and Influence: Genealogical Dissent

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pp. 3-30

If the past is any indication, literature will never become a family business. Perhaps too much is at stake, or perhaps the solitary act of writing does not transmit its allure in ways that other, more public professions do. In our highly publicized, hypermediated times, it is always easier to glamorize the doctor, the lawyer, ...

PART I. CRITICAL CARTOGRAPHY: Charting the Artistic Allegiances

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pp. 31

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1. The Amises on American Literature: Nabokov, Bellow, Roth

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pp. 33-65

When he was not reeling from the racism of the American South or lambasting the tedium of American literature in general, Kingsley Amis was fascinated with the United States. He visited the country only twice, in 1958-59 and in 1967-68, both times on teaching assignments, first at Princeton, then Vanderbilt. ...

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2. The Amises on English Literature: Austen, Waugh, Larkin

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pp. 66-98

If the representative authors of American literature sent the Amises retreating to their corners, defensive and alert, then it seems logical to consider which English writers they found most influential, most instructive. Can one identify, on the other side of the Atlantic, an equivalent line in the sand? ...

PART 2. INFLUENCE AND INTERSECTION: The Interplay of Individual Works

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pp. 99

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3. The Amises on Comedy: Lucky Jim and The Rachel Papers

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pp. 101-132

On 3 March 1953, six years after graduating from Oxford University, Kingsley Amis wrote to his friend Philip Larkin, informing him that he had chosen a title for his newest novel. Dixon and Christine was out, he said; Lucky Jim was in. Twenty-seven days later, another letter from Kingsley arrived, this time informing ...

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4. The Amises on Satire: Ending Up and Dead Babies

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pp. 133-161

If The Rachel Papers signaled Martin's initial challenge to his father's oeuvre by attacking its foundation, Lucky Jim, then Martin's second novel, Dead Babies, appeared to continue and intensify that process. Similar to the interplay between the Amises' debut novels, Martin's sophomore effort is best seen ...

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5. The Amises on Realism and Postmodernism: Stanley and the Women and Money: A Suicide Note

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pp. 162-198

When viewed as companion texts, or contemporaneous instances of revaluative critique, Kingsley Amis's fifteenth novel, Stanley and the Women (1984), and Martin's fifth novel, Money: A Suicide Note (1984) illuminate two subjects hitherto unexamined in the Amis father-and-son relationship: the Amises' perspectives ...

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6. The Amises on Love, Death, and Children: The Letters of Kingsley Amis and Experience: A Memoir

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pp. 199-226

At the time of Kingsley's death in 1995, one could note only a smattering of scholarly references to the professional similarities between Kingsley and Martin Amis. That all changed in May 2000 with the dual publication of Kingsley's Letters, edited by Zachary Leader, and Martin's Experience: A Memoir, ...

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Conclusion: Projecting a Future: The Amises, Genealogical Dissent, and the British Novel since 1950

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pp. 227-256

Numerous reviewers make passing references to the professional similarities between Kingsley and Martin Amis. Having published over thirty books, written hundreds of reviews and essays, and been intricately involved in some ofthe most hotly debated controversies of the late twentieth century, the Amises make strong claims ...


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pp. 257-306


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pp. 307-322


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pp. 323-328

E-ISBN-13: 9780299192136
Print-ISBN-13: 9780299192143

Publication Year: 2003