Alex Massie

Questionable Claim of the Day

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From Jonathan Jones in the Guardian:

Surely if the novel in English has a master now at the peak of his powers, it is Ian McEwan.

It doesn't and he isn't.

This follows an equally dubious claim:

Any honest fan of modern fiction has to acknowledge the supremacy of American writers since the 1960s. For this particular British reader, to discover the novels of Philip Roth and Thomas Pynchon, in particular, was to be released from the tongue-tied mumblings of postwar English fiction into a new world of generous imaginative reach and exuberant language.

Oh really? In the first place the notion that there's some kind of unofficial competition between British and American novelists is itself absurd but so too is this kind unseemly prostration before over-written (that is, "exuberant"), ponderous, flabby American novels. And what, pray, are these "tongue-tied mumblings" anyway? That's not quite how I'd describe Waugh, Powell, Greene, Spark, Amis (K) and so on...

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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