Back to the 1980s?

From the Observer
For years, there has been a presumptuous idea in university literary departments that a novelist’s intentions are irrelevant and that the last person who can explain a work’s meaning is its author. That task must fall to critics, who, strangely enough, do not write novels themselves but produce theory in university literary departments. Evidence against comes from Money. Martin Amis does not dissect or even mention the politics of the last Conservative government in his account of the increasingly deranged life of John Self, a porn-consuming, junk-food-guzzling, woman-beating yob.

But when he published it in 1984, he said he intended Money to be a satire of Thatcherism and his readers knew it without having to be told. Take the scene, which stayed with me, when Self and his drunken colleagues from an ad agency throw food at each other across a respectable restaurant. As they break into choruses of We are the Champions, Self notices that the “middle-aged pair at the next table retract slightly and lower their heads over their food. ‘No, the rest of the meal isn’t going to be much fun for these two, I’m afraid,'” he thinks. “I suppose it must have been cool for people like that in places like this before people like us started coming here also. But we’re here to stay. You try getting us out.”

Read the whole thing

6 thoughts on “Back to the 1980s?

  1. Relating to what’s in the fourth paragraph down, the part about why people didn’t vote Labour, if Nick Cohen wrote a novel, that sort of political analysis wouldn’t be left out.
    But having checked most of the many comments on the Observer’s site for this piece (I got someone’s abuse deleted while looking), I thought someone might have said something like
    “Couldn’t Nick Cohen write a proper political, state of the nation novel”?
    No one did!
    But am I too late in asking this? Was this not the sort of thing he would’ve been pestered with when he was writing what would be collected in Cruel Britannia? I’m sure that must have been the case.
    The question would surely only be met with a wince now.
    However, there is all that information, the talent, the motivation; but I doubt we’ll be reading one.
    I won’t mention it again.

  2. when he published it in 1984, he said he intended Money to be a satire of Thatcherism

    any chance of a link, or a quote? because every 1984 interview I’ve read with Amis sees the author specifically deny that his novel is time-specific.

  3. Put not your trust in Princes.
    Put not your trust in Duchesses!

    At a recent event, whence she collected an award, she barely touched on what had happened with the NoW. But she did say she loved children and hated grown-ups. Was the sound of clapping that followed this strange remark by the hands of grown-ups? Yup. The same people who would likely donate to charities? Yes.
    Isn’t it all very weird.

  4. I’m so glad you’re identifying early on the potential social cost that the coalition’s ‘deficit busting’ actions may have. This, I think, is precisely what concerned left-wing commentators should be keeping their eye on over the next few years. Mary Riddell made a similar point in yesterday’s Telegraph. It would be especially worth keeping an eye on the North East, in my view, where I’m told the public sector is responsible for over 60% of the employment in the region.

  5. Well I asked him.
    Did you write it as a satire of Thatcherism, I said.
    Yes, he replied.
    Erm, I don’t see what else I can do!

  6. that’s interesting Nick, because he has specifically denied the idea that it’s about one historical period in the Guardian this week, and he denied it in 1984 too (see Novelists in Interview by John Haffenden). It’s odd that he would say two different things.

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