Jeremy Lewis

Reviewing the Situation

The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books


Faber & Faber 361pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

John Carey is a very big wheel in the world of Eng Lit, and its Oxford branch in particular. After taking a first at St John’s, he taught at a number of colleges before being made the Merton Professor of English Literature in 1975, while still in his early forties. But he is much more than a ‘remote and ineffectual don’. He made his scholarly reputation with his edition of Milton and Marvell, but from early in his career he was keen to combine academic life with literary journalism. He started out as the radio critic of The Listener and contributed reviews and articles to Ian Hamilton’s New Review, including the wonderfully waspish ‘Down with Dons’,

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