Cover image for Author, author : a novel
Author, author : a novel
Lodge, David, 1935-
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Publication Information:
New York : Viking, [2004]

Physical Description:
389 pages ; 24cm
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Framed by a dramatic and moving account of Henry James’s last illness, Author, Authorbegins in the early 1880s, describing James’s friendship with the genial Punchartist, George Du Maurier, and his intimate but problematic relationship with fellow American novelist Constance Fenimore Woolson. At the end of the decade Henry, worried by the failure of his books to sell, resolves to achieve fame and fortune as a playwright while Du Maurier diversifies into writing novels. The consequences that ensue mingle comedy, irony, pathos, and suspense. As Du Maurier’s novel Trilbybecomes the bestseller of the century, Henry anxiously awaits the opening night of his make-or-break play, Guy Domville. This event, on January 5, 1895, and its complex sequel form the climax to Lodge’s absorbing novel.Thronged with vividly drawn characters, some of them with famous names, Author, Authorpresents a fascinating panorama of literary and theatrical life in late Victorian England. But at its heart is a portrait, rendered with remarkable empathy, of a writer who never achieved popular success in his lifetime or resolved his sexual identity, yet wrote some of the greatest novels about love in the English language.

Author Notes

Writing both literary criticism and novels, British author David Lodge has learned to practice what he teaches. A professor of Modern English literature, both his fiction and nonfiction have found a large readership in the United Kingdom and the United States. To maintain his dual approach to writing, Lodge has attempted to alternate a novel one year and a literary criticism the next throughout his career.

Lodge's fiction has been described as good writing with a good laugh, and he is praised for his ability to treat serious subjects sardonically. This comic touch is evident in his first novel, "The Picturegoers" (1960) in which the conflict of Catholicism with sensual desire, a recurrent theme, is handled with wit and intelligence. "How Far Can You Go" (1980) released in United States as "Souls and Bodies" (1982) also examines sexual and religious evolution in a marvelously funny way. "Changing Places: A Tale of Two Campuses" (1975, 1979), based on Lodge's experience in Berkeley as a visiting professor, won the Hawthorne Prize and the Yorkshire Post fiction prize and solidified his reputation in America. Some of the author's other hilarious novels include "Nice Work" (1989), which Lodge adapted into an award-winning television series, and "Therapy" (1995), a sardonic look at mid-life crisis.

Lodge's nonfiction includes a body of work begun in 1966 with "The Language of Fiction" and includes "The Art of Fiction: Illustrated from Classic and Modern Texts" (1992) and "The Practice of Writing: Essays, Lectures, Reviews and a Diary"(1996). In a unique approach, he often uses his own works for critical examination and tries to give prospective writers insights into the complex creative process.

David John Lodge was born in London on January 28, 1935. He has a B.A. (1955) and M.A (1959) from University College, London and a Ph.D. (1967) and an Honorary Professorship (1987) from the University of Birmingham. Lodge is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

(Bowker Author Biography) David Lodge is the author of ten novels & a novella, including "Changing Places", "Small World" (shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1984), "Nice Work" (also shortlisted for the Booker), "Paradise News", "Therapy", &, most recently, "Home Truths". He is also the author of several works of literary criticism, including "The Art of Fiction" & "The Practice of Writing". He lives in Birmingham, England.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, and Edgar Allan Poe have fared quite well as the stars of novels dramatizing their lives, and now it's Henry James' turn. The great writer is the focus of Colm Toibin's aptly named novel The Master BKL Ap 1 04, and here Lodge fictionalizes James' doomed attempt to shore up his finances by writing plays. The author of such intellectual romps as Therapy (1995) and Thinks (2001), Lodge is primarily a satirist, but he is also a literary critic, a discipline palpable in this expert if slightly awkward tribute. Lodge can't help but launch into extended biographical and critical disquisitions but then, as though to leaven his erudition, renders his hero a bit too charmingly eccentric. And yet Lodge's take on James' theatrical adventures is suspenseful and empathetic, and his re-creation of James' colorful milieu, including his quirky family, is vivid. Ultimately, Lodge portrays a genius who is aware of both his gifts and shortcomings and who revels in friendships. And, indeed, it is Lodge's vital interpretations of James' close ties to the Punch artist turned best-selling writer George du Maurier, and more problematic relationship with the popular American writer Constance Fenimore Woolson, that infuse this smart novel with its satisfyingly piquant insights into a seminal, and persistently enigmatic, literary genius. --Donna Seaman Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

Lodge's (Thinks) meticulously researched but disappointingly tepid "docu-novel" opens in 1915, with Henry James on his death bed, and quickly establishes the context of this take on the great Anglo-American writer's life: James's conflicted jealousy about his friend George Du Maurier's success with the now virtually forgotten novel Trilby, his chaste relationship with the American novelist Constance Fenimore Woolsey, and the fateful evening of January 5, 1895, when his play Guy Domville premiered in London and James was humiliated by the booing from the cheap seats. Why does a man who believes that the theater was noteworthy for "its vulgarity and aesthetic crudity" aspire to be a playwright? For the banal reason that "it was for an author the shortest road to fame and fortune." It may be Lodge's point that James sublimated his desires for love or sex into a longing for acclaim and wealth, but the James of this novel-the second this year to deal with his theatrical career, after Colm Toibin's The Master-is petty, priggish and egocentric in the extreme (his reaction to the apparent suicide of Woolsey: "what he really dreaded was finding some evidence that she had done it on account of him"). Even if this portrayal is accurate-and given the author's scholarly credentials, there's no reason to doubt it-it makes for a singularly undramatic story. Agent, Emilie Jacobson at Curtis Brown. 4-city author tour. (Oct. 11) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

So who's the author of the title? The immortal Henry James, here about to fail as a playwright, or his pal, Punch artist George Du Maurier, who has just become a best-selling author with Trilby? With a four-city author tour; note that Colm Toibin's The Master (LJ 5/1/04) covers similar ground. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.