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J.G. Farrell The Making of a Writer Lord Butler presenting the Booker Prize cheque to J.G. Farrell at the Café Royal for The Siege of Krishnapur, 28 November 1973. (Photo: Fox Waterman) J.G. Farrell The Making of a Writer LAVINIA GREACEN Published in 2012 by Cork University Press Youngline Industrial Estate Pouladuff Road, Togher Cork, Ireland First edition published in Great Britain by Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 1999 Copyright © 2012 Lavinia Greacen All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilised in any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording or otherwise, without either the prior written permission of the publisher or a licence permitting restricted copying in Ireland issued by the Irish Copyright Licensing Agency Ltd, 25 Denzille Lane, Dublin 2. The right of Lavinia Greacen to be identified as author of this Work has been asserted by her in accordance with Copyright and Related Rights Acts 2000 to 2007. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. ISBN-978-1-85918-489-9 Printed by Gutenberg Press, Malta Typeset by Tower Books, Ballincollig, Co. Cork For Sophia Hope Greacen, born 26 March 1997, with my love BY THE SAME AUTHOR Chink J.G. Farrell in his Own Words, Selected Letters and Diaries (editor) When the Booker Prize-winning novelist Jim Farrell drowned in 1979 at the age of 44, a generation felt bereft. This biography of a brilliant, difficult man who was much loved is so sympathetic to his character and his writing that it’s nearly as good as having him back. Read this book, then read Farrell’s Empire Trilogy: that will do justice to the man and his work. The Times Greacen’s attention to detail is worthy of her subject, himself a ‘meticulous researcher’. But she honours the central focus of her study, and his own. A passionate interest infuses her knowledge of his fiction and fires her insight into its connections with his life. Sunday Times This is an admirable biography. Greacen had been given access to family letters and diaries as a key to ‘the private life of an exceptionally private person’ and she remains calmly sympathetic, calling in exactly the right way on the reader’s admiration and pity. Penelope Fitzgerald, TLS Lavinia Greacen has prised open the smooth shut slab of his life . . . and created an intriguing and artful story. Her finely written biography reveals very well the quirky mix of cruelty and generosity in his life, and she cleverly weaves this together with the distinctive tone of Farrell’s novels – an astringent bathos. Sunil Khilnani, Financial Times In this marvellous biography, Lavinia Greacen has restored to a wider audience the life and times of a great novelist . . . For some inexplicable reason, after reading it I felt not only that I knew J.G. Farrell but that I, too, mourned his loss as if he were a friend; an exemplar. This is surely in response to the integrity of Lavinia Greacen’s necessary and memorable book. Gerald Dawe, Sunday Tribune Greacen’s thoroughly researched, impeccably paced and organised biography [is] from start to finish good plain storytelling of the most satisfying kind . . . [His death] was a dreadful loss, for which this biography, almost restoring him to life both as he seemed to me then and as he really was, is the best possible compensation. John Spurling, Observer Marvellous. A biographer’s biography. BBC Radio 4, ‘Open Page’ The most absorbing book of the year has been Lavinia Greacen’s J.G. Farrell. Not only friends and contemporaries of the gifted author of Troubles, The Siege of Krishnapur (1973 Booker Prize), and The Singapore Grip will be fascinated by the transition of a rugby-playing public schoolboy, via the horror of polio and an iron lung, into the sardonic slayer and layer now revealed by Greacen’s indefatigable sexual excavations. David Caute, Spectator J.G. Farrell was a fine novelist and an evasive and paradoxical man . . . Greacen has elicited illuminating comments from friends, admirers and rivals (in the last category, note Theroux and Andrew Sinclair) . . . Her narrative rightly emphasises the ambiguity that was so much a part of Farrell’s ironic distance from the world. Margaret Drabble, Guardian Variations on a watery theme echo through Lavinia Greacen’s biography , which starts with the hero of Troubles dreaming of death by drowning, and...


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