The Geometry of Fear: Joseph Losey’s The Damned

Both the changing public perception and the semiotics of post-war British motorcycle culture from the late-1950s to the mid-70s owed a tremendous debt to Hollywood, starting with László Benedek’s The Wild One in 1953. Motorcycling was now no longer viewed as the gentleman’s sporting hobby it had been in the early part of the century,… Continue reading The Geometry of Fear: Joseph Losey’s The Damned

The Opium Eaters – A Work in Progress

If anyone was wondering, this is what I'm currently writing. This project grew out of a panel I spoke on at The Bradford Literature Festival in 2019... THE OPIUM EATERS: High Literature and the Art of Addiction (Morton Books) When the brilliant Oxford drop-out and freelance journalist Thomas De Quincey published his seminal article ‘Confessions of… Continue reading The Opium Eaters – A Work in Progress

The Picture of Dorian Gray

Extract of a piece I wrote for Wordsworth Editions just before Christmas on The Picture of Dorian Gray... ...As a narcissist and living work of art, in Nietzschean terms Dorian is an ‘Apollonian’ figure and Hallward also paints him as Adonis, Narcissus, Paris, and Antinous. Against nature, he has the cold edge of the purely aesthetic;… Continue reading The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Gothic Life of Edgar Allan Poe

Extract from my Halloween Blog for Wordsworth Editions Desperate for money, Poe accepted another assistant editorship at Burton's Gentleman's Magazine in Philadelphia (who had given Pym a rotten review), again for $10 a week. Disheartened by his novel’s reception and aware that his theories of art did not lend themselves to long narratives, Poe returned to short… Continue reading The Gothic Life of Edgar Allan Poe

The Turn of the Screw, The Innocents and The Haunting of Bly Manor

Extract from a contextual review for Wordsworth Editions, originally entitled ‘Based on the Writings of Henry James’: The Turn of the Screw, The Innocents and The Haunting of Bly Manor'. The Innocents (UK, 1961) is a scary film based on a scary book. Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw was first published as a… Continue reading The Turn of the Screw, The Innocents and The Haunting of Bly Manor

Lady Audley’s Secret

New entry for the Wordsworth Editions Blog... When the category of ‘Sensation Fiction’ was first applied as a genre label in the Literary Budget periodical of November 1861, it coined a term for a new species of narrative that was at once innovative, soon-to-be hugely influential, and at the same time the next logical step… Continue reading Lady Audley’s Secret

Moll Flanders

New entry for the Wordsworth Editions Blog... Like its famous predecessor, Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders is a story of survival. But instead of being shipwrecked on an uninhabited island ‘near the Mouth of the Great River of Oroonoque’, the novel’s protagonist arguably has a more insurmountable problem, that of being born a poor… Continue reading Moll Flanders

Mary Barton

New entry for the Wordsworth Editions Blog... In 1848, Europe was experiencing the greatest upheaval since Napoleon. The year had begun with a revolution in the Two Sicilies; by February, the French had declared another republic and Marx and Engels had published the Communist Manifesto. By March, there were barricades in Berlin, riots in Sweden,… Continue reading Mary Barton

The Other Brontë Girl

New entry for the Wordsworth Editions Blog... In her introduction to the 1914 edition of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, the author and critic May Sinclair reminded her fellow Modernists how radical Anne Brontë’s second and final novel had been. When Anne depicted her protagonist, Helen Huntingdon, slamming her bedroom door in her abusive husband’s… Continue reading The Other Brontë Girl

Northanger Abbey

New entry for the Wordsworth Editions Blog... Often taken to be a spoof of the gothic writings of Mrs Radcliffe, particularly The Mysteries of Udolpho, Jane Austen’s first (and oddly final) novel is in fact much sneakier than that. It is a novel about novels; that fledgling and modern artform that was to become the… Continue reading Northanger Abbey