Geordie Williamson

Writing For His Life

The Tyrant's Novel

By

Sceptre 292pp £16.99 order from our bookshop

NABOKOV LOATHED ‘ISSUE’ novels – ‘topical trash’, he called them – and looked forward with unconcealed Schadenfreude to a time when someone would come along ‘with a hammer and take a good crack at Balzac, at Gorki, at Mann’. Reviewing Bend Sinister in 1960, Frank Kermode offered this explanation for the Russian’s pique: ‘The novel is too easy. It can be stuffed with facts or doctrine, a photograph or tract; or it can be laboriously moulded to fit the shape of some moralistic obsession.’

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • In 'Silenced Voices' reports the ongoing story of the human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, who has been… ,
    • The mystery of Jack the Ripper's identity has long been agonised over. But what do we know about his victims?… ,
    • A piece of Literary Review history from way back in 1983: John Haffenden talks to the great Iris Murdoch. ,
    • Britain’s only travelling lit fest, the Garden Museum Literary Festival is heading to Houghton Hall, Norfolk, for a… ,
    • 'The 19th-century German sage is not my idea of a pleasant travel companion' goes hiking with Friedr… ,
    • If you want ideas about what to read next, sign up to our free email newsletter, and get book reviews, archive mate… ,
    • 'The heroic male nude could not, I think, be used today to signify civic pride and glory', as Michelangelo’s 'David… ,