"I expect you’ll be becoming a schoolmaster, sir. That’s what most of the gentlemen does, sir, that gets sent down for indecent behaviour.” Evelyn Waugh, Decline and Fall
Posts tagged "France"
In the shadow of Vesuvius

In the shadow of Vesuvius

My starting point for Hell’s Gate was a desire to tell a story about an actual descent to the underworld, a person venturing into the kingdom of the dead to find someone. Could today’s readers still believe in such a thing, I wondered, and was their thirst for the epic and mysterious strong enough to...
The opposite of Birmingham

The opposite of Birmingham

Paris is a collective masterpiece, perhaps the greatest in the world. Yet it is not a place for individual wonders, and many visitors may feel the kind of disappointment that I did on my first visit: of the world-famous attractions only the Eiffel Tower, the Opéra and the Louvre colonnade really live up to their...
The river of tears

The river of tears

The doors closed again. Matteo found himself looking over a huge open expanse. He was standing on a plain covered in black grass. It looked like those fields that Tuscan farmers burn in summer to fertilise them. Nothing else was growing as far as the eye could see except for that short grass, black and...
I, Octavio

I, Octavio

The day I finished my degree in modern literature at the Sorbonne in May 2010, I was called before a board of examiners to present my dissertation on the ‘engaged literature’ of the interwar period. After I had spoken for three hours, I was awarded my MA. I went off to celebrate with friends from...
Mixed-up thinking

Mixed-up thinking

This is the story of how I came to write Miss Treadway & the Field of Stars and how it came to be more relevant than even I had imagined. It is a story of two parts – the first a little more obvious than the second. But everything needs a beginning… My beginning lies...
Thirteen ways of looking at Guernica

Thirteen ways of looking at Guernica

In the 1930s, the Spanish Reds are promising paraisos to their new recruits. A world freed from class distinctions, slave labour, poverty and squalor, and especially a world liberated from religion – that celebrated ‘opium of the people’. At the same time, those sceptical of Soviet ideology, or vehemently opposed to it, seek to deflect...
The age of nylon/Off the Azores

The age of nylon/Off the Azores

A vast confluence of causes determines the most unlikely result. Forty-eight people, forty-eight agents of uncertainty enfolded within a series of innumerable reasons, fate is always a question of perspective. A modelized aeroplane in which forty-eight story fragments form a world. An impromptu survey whose description goes beyond the very conformity of studies. A census...
All too human

All too human

The French have an unflinching predilection for narratives that penetrate the veils of the private, the personal, the intimate – the vital experience of the unsayable. With dogged perseverance they will read confessions, autobiographies and diaries of all kinds, monumental epistolary collections, and torrents of conscience worthy of many Niagara Falls. They are masters of...
Agatha

Agatha

In December 1926, Agatha Christie vanished, sending shockwaves through British society. As the authorities scoured the country for her, theories and suspicions abounded: it was murder, a hoax, suicide, a publicity stunt, revenge. When she was finally discovered ten days later, living under an assumed name in a hotel in Harrogate, she returned to normal...
Divine wonderlands

Divine wonderlands

Since at least the early twentieth century, the question of identity, the vital reality or stark falsehood of such a concept, has been at the core of the most serious literary writing. From existential anxiety and historical misappropriation, to the dispossession or conscious denial of individuality, writing now seems to be at an even more...