Bernard Bergonzi is Emeritus Professor of English at the University of Warwick.



The Blacking Factory and Pennsylvania Gothic

by Wilfrid Sheed

Expensive People

by Joyce Carol Oates
In two of these books matricidal small boys play a prominent part, and in a third an adolescent very nearly stabs the sweet old lady next door with a carving knife. If this becomes a steady trend we shall perhaps see a fusion of two dominant themes in American life: …

Stale Incense


by Lawrence Durrell

Blessed McGill

by Edwin Shrake
In What is Literature? Sartre argues that whereas the poet is concerned with words rather than with things or ideas, the novelist, as a prose writer, must move beyond words to the real world, and so inevitably involve himself with questions of direction and commitment. Sartre is expressing contempt for …

Nice But Not Good

The Nice and the Good

by Iris Murdoch

Orchestra and Beginners

by Frederic Raphael
Iris Murdoch’s annual novel now seems to have become an established British institution: in private it may be derided or dismissed, but in public it gets the respect customarily given to venerable traditions. Some such theory, at least, is needed to account for the fact that reviewers tend to receive …


The Instrument

by John O'Hara

A Bad Man

by Stanley Elkin
First novels are generally treated with indulgent interest, second novels are approached with an anxious concern to see whether the author can keep up the level of his first, while third and fourth novels are inspected for signs of staying power. But by the fifth novel we begin to suspect …

Not Long Enough

Justice Hunger

by Meyer Liben

A Story that Ends with a Scream and Eight Others

by James Leo Herlihy
These four collections of short stories or novellas provide an instructively large dose of a kind of literary experience I usually avoid, since I tend to skip such pieces when I come across them in the pages of magazines. The short story is a paradoxical form in that it is …

Total Recall

Casualties of Peace

by Edna O'Brien

Digging Out

by Anne Richardson
The unfavorable reviewers of Edna O’Brien’s last novel, August Is a Wicked Month, were subjected to a counter-attack which asserted that they were blinkered and mean-spirited males, unable to take the full implications of female emancipation, and openly quaking before any frank assertion of the sexual nature of women. The …

“Eat! Eat!”

Thou Worm Jacob

by Mark Mirsky


by Herbert Gold
Three of these novels deal with a sizable part of American Jewish life in the twentieth century. Mr. Mirsky writes about a declining community in urban Boston; Mr. Gold in his “novel in the form of a memoir” tells the life story of Sam Gold, who came from czarist Russia …