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9780786867578

The Letters of Kingsley Amis

Leader, Zachary Author

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In 1954, Kingsley Amis grabbed the attention of the literary world as one of the Angry Young Men with his first novel Lucky Jim. He maintained a public image of blistering intelligence, savage wit, and belligerent fierceness of opinion until his death in 1995. In his letters, he confirms the legendary aspects of his reputation, and much more. This collection contains more than eight hundred letters that divulge the secrets of the artist and the man, with an honesty and immediacy rare in any biography or memoir.

Amis, so assured in his pronouncements on fellow writers, grapples privately with fears, self-doubts, ambitions, and personal disasters. He is wildly funny, indulging in mordant gossip and astonishing frankness with his intimate friends and lovers. Some letters are dashed off with signature frustration; others are written with painstaking and painful circumspection. They make vivid the triumphs and tumult of his life and his times, from post-war Britain through the Thatcher era, as well as his attractions to women, jazz, drink, and the comic possibilities of the English language.

As an intellectual pugilist who took no prisoners, Kingsley Amis had few peers. These letters, at times scandalous, at times tragic, reinforce his historical relevance and literary stature.

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About the Author:

KINGSLEY AMIS was born in London in 1922. From his fictional debut with Lucky Jim to his death in 1995, he published twenty-five novels and numerous works of non-fiction, verse, volumes of short stories, and anthologies of poetry and prose. He was also a prolific critic and polemicist in newspapers and magazines. He was knighted in 1990. ZACHARY LEADER is professor of English literature at the University of Surrey Roehampton. Among his books are Reading Blake's Songs, Writer's Block, and Revision and Romantic Authorship. He lives in London, and is a regular contributor to The London Review of Books and The Times Literary Supplement.

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