Literature Professor: Today's Writers Are Schoolboy Show-Offs

The Evening Standard (London, England), July 29, 2010 | Go to article overview

Literature Professor: Today's Writers Are Schoolboy Show-Offs


Byline: Rashid Razaq

A LITERARY academic today attacked the "cult of personality" among English novelists, lambasting some as overrated "show-offs".

Salman Rushdie, Martin Amis, Ian McEwan and Julian Barnes are among the writers who come in for criticism in the forthcoming publication by Professor Gabriel Josipovici What Ever Happened To Modernism? Describing the authors as "prepschool boys showing off", Professor Josipovici laments the state of the contemporary English novel, saying: "We are in a very fallow period." In his book, the academic launches an attack on the literary giants, accusing them of being "self-satisfied" and "hollow", the Guardian reports. Professor Josipovici today told the Standard it was ironic his book had sparked a literary storm for the same ideas he was condemning.

He said: "The book questions the ridiculousness of the cult of personality and that is exactly what has happened. It's become the cult of personality. There are more than 200 pages in the book. The comments have been taken out of context. I don't want to say anything about the individual authors other than to say read the book."

Professor Josipovici, a research professor at Sussex University, has written more than a dozen works of fiction.

In his new book he writes: "Reading Barnes, like reading so many other English writers of his generation -- Martin Amis, McEwan -- leaves me feeling that I and the world have been made smaller and meaner. …

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