By the way, did I mention I was going to Ireland for a few weeks and wouldn’t be posting? No? That’s because you might be a thief and break into my flat while I’m away.

Anyway, I’m back again now. I’ll try to post more on The Pregnant Widow soon. Summary: woeful in places, bearable in others.

Oh! Been meaning to say – glad to see John Self on board w/ the Jocelyn Brooke Apprctn Society. It’s a shame that plans for proper republication went nowhere; Faber Finds has managed to get itself a piss poor rep over the last few years, & it just feels a bit sad to see a book confined there, like the look of them already generates the same ‘not interested’ vibe as a 5-for-a-pound pile of Pelicans and Penguin Modern Poets in a provincial second-hand bookshop.

Ok, harsh on Pelicans.

Amis Week: fine, it’s going fine

Going pretty slowly with The Pregnant Widow, read another chunk of Diarmaid MacCullough’s history of the Reformation instead. Now there’s a real book.

I don’t feel bad about this. You’re not paying me. And you know what? If you did offer to pay me, I’d refuse. It would compromise my independence. I get my loving on the run.

All I’ll say for now is that Amis has mentioned Islam in The Pregnant Widow for the first time. But you know what? I am absolutely certain that he will not mention it again, nor make any ill-informed generalisations about the religion of 1.5bn people, nor introduce any two-dimensional characters just to show us HOW IT IS with Islam and allow other characters to pontificate on HOW IT IS with Islam.

100% confident. Won’t hear another peep.

and then he gets out of the bed, which is symbolic of resurrection, which adds profoundity to the scene

Thought this was kind of interesting.

Yeah, lying. You got me. It’s an article on the Guardian Books Blog, of course it ain’t interesting (apols to Billy Mills, he’s alright). Journalistic, ploddy, doesn’t really know its stuff (eg “Flannery O’Connor, the only Catholic writer acclaimed by American critics in the 20th Century”. Gotcha game’s too easy with a survey article but I think Walker Percy would break that claim) Was, however, thinking about some of this shit myself, so let’s pretend.

I find it completely strange that the operation of grace – and I mean that in a pretty limited Christian Catholic sense – in a secular world is a major theme of maybe the top three midcentury British novelists. I dig Spark and Waugh a lot, Greene not so much; but it’s odd, and frankly unhealthy, that being taken seriously in mid-century Britain did seem bound up with adopting an extreme, rigorous and kitschy form of a fading religion.

Also feel that any religious-with-a-dash-of-doubt poet automatically got taken quite seriously; fair in some cases, overestimated worth in others. CH Sisson, RS Thomas, etc. This might have happened anyway, but the Eliotic climate must’ve made it fester.

Increasingly thinking that Empson was right when he was banging on about neo-Christians – which takes in ostensibly secular authors and critics iirc– running the show and kicking hard against them. Just coz yr themes are suffering, redemption, sacrifice, doubt, doesn’t automatically make you profound or serious. You just end up puzzling and silly if there’s no gift backing it up & the reader’s going ‘jeez don’t sweat it you aren’t really going to hell’.

Is this what The Movement was for? Maybe I’ve underestimated them a little.

This might not be news to anyone. Just me wondering why swathes of the lit of mid-century Britain are so not all that.