The Practice of Writing by David Lodge - review by Amanda Craig

Amanda Craig

The Frightful Toil

The Practice of Writing

By

Secker & Warburg 288pp £17.99 order from our bookshop
 

‘Writing about one’s own work carries with it certain risks, including that of seeming egocentric,' David Lodge acknowledges in this collection of essays, 'but I have never felt that there was any conflict between being a self-aware creative writer and an analytical, formalist critic at the same time - on the contrary. T S Eliot drew the vital connection... in his essay 'The Function of Criticism': 'Probably... the larger part of the labour of an author in composing his work is critical labour; the labour of sifting, combining, constructing, expunging, correcting, testing; this frightful toil is as much critical as creative.'' Quite: but there is a vast difference between editing your own work and acting as academic critic of it.

Lodge is a successful novelist who is widely reviewed as much for his influence as a teacher of creative writing at East Anglia, as for his better novels, Nice Work, Changing Places and Small World. Such novels have brought pleasure to many; they are just what you would expect a

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