Literary Production Numbers

British literary critic James Wood reviews The Oxford English Literary History, Vol. XII: 1960-2000: The Last of England?, and sharpens his knives:

Mind you, Stevenson’s three lines on A House for Mr Biswas make one glad that the rules [of the Oxford guide regarding what constitutes an “English” writer] allowed him to venture no further: “The novel uses its broad range of characters and their conflicts for comic effect, but they also offer extended insight into a complex, multiracial society, both hopeful and fearful for its future.” That sentence might be a Rorschach test: if you find nothing much the matter with it, you are an unsaved academic. Apart from the inconvenience of being largely untrue — there are almost no non-Indians of any significance in the novel — and its grating habit of sounding less like criticism than an AGM report, it is almost morally offensive that this should be the only description of that marvellous novel.

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