Concerning Gabriel Josipovici

By Baker, William | Style, Summer 2003 | Go to article overview

Concerning Gabriel Josipovici


Baker, William, Style


Gabriel Josipovici is a major contemporary writer, critic, and thinker. Monika Fludernik's study of his fiction and drama is the first monograph to be published on any aspect of his work. Since its completion, Josipovici has published several very significant literary works. Many other aspects of his multifaceted output deserve attention as well, most notably his literary criticism.

Monika Fludernik. Echoes and Mirrorings: Gabriel Josipovici's Creative Oeuvre. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2000. xvi + 264 pp. No price, paper.

Monika Fludernik, Professor of English Literature at the University of Freiburg, has produced the first monograph on the work of the British literary critic, novelist, and playwright Gabriel Josipovici. To date (November 2002), Josipovici has published sixteen works of fiction, and more than thirty plays for radio and the stage. He has also published ten nonfiction works. In 2001 his very moving memoir, A Life, focusing on his late mother, Sasha Rabinovitch, was published. Josipovici is also a frequent reviewer for the New York Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement, and other publications.

Josipovici was born in Nice in 1940, and educated in Egypt in a French-English school, then in England. He read English at St. Edmund Hall, Oxford, taking a first in his final examinations in 1961. In 1963 he joined the faculty at the University of Sussex where he was a Lecturer (1963-1974), then a Reader (1974-1980), part-time Reader ( 1980-1984), and subsequently Professor of English in the School of European Studies. Much of his time since the early 1980s has been spent writing, and he taught largely on a part-time basis. In 1998 he retired to devote all his energies to writing.

Fludernik's monograph appeared too early to include A Life. Her approach is formalist and factual, and her aim is "to provide a long-overdue critical appreciation of the writings of this sophisticated author. Josipovici's intelligence and depth of insight deserve a wider audience" (vi-vii). The introduction describes Fludernik's initial encounter with Josipovici's work, when she was working "on fiction written in the second person" (1), and her meeting with the author. She then summarizes information about his life, providing basic facts about him and the extent of his work. She treats, too briefly, an important element in his life, his "Jewishness" and its impact "on the themes and form of his texts" (6).

Following "The Silence that Calls Out to You: An Interview with Gabriel Josipovici," the first chapter is an analysis of her subject's short stories, or "Metaphorical Mirrorings." The second chapter deals with the novels and the third chapter is an analysis of Josipovici's "superb handling of dialogue both in his fiction and in his drama" (6). The fourth chapter is the first detailed discussion of Josipovici's dramatic productivity and draws upon typescripts available from the dramatist or his agent. Only seven of Josipovici' s eighteen plays and only one of his fifteen radio plays are in print. (He has also written four television plays and a film script, none of which is in print.) Chapter Five contextualizes Josipovici within contemporary British writing and compares him with other fiction writers and dramatists.

Fludernik's book concludes with the first "complete" bibliography of Josipovici. With sparse, sometimes one-word, annotations, this consists of biographical sources of information, followed by a section called "Poetological Statements by the Author"-in other words, six titles by him ranging from his "Getting it Right: True Confessions of an Experimentalist" (1982) to "Writing, Reading, and the Study of Literature" (1989). Three interviews are listed, as are Awards. There then follows the main bibliography with Section A, "The Writings of Gabriel Josipovici," is divided into eight subsections: Novels, Non-Fiction, Short Stories, Plays, Radio Plays, Television Plays and Films, German Radio Broadcasts (seven are listed), and Criticism.

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