David Lodge, the Society’s Honorary President, has written the first volume of his memoirs. This was published in the UK this week under the title Quite a Good Time to Be Born: A Memoir, 1935-1975. An international edition is promised by Amazon. com in February. The book was reviewed in the Financial Times on Friday by Suzi Feay who found it “not the account of a life packed with thrills other than the intellectual kind. But in its own way, it is a fascinating and moving read.” The FT article announces that Lodge will discuss the book at the Oxford Literary Festival on 27 March.
The book was also reviewed in today’s Sunday Telegraph by Nicholas Skakespeare, who narrated and conducted interviews for the three-part documentary on Evelyn Waugh’s life and works for the BBC Arena series in 1987. The review begins by warning readers not to expect too much from a novelist’s memoirs, calling Waugh’s A Little Learning his “least satisfactory book.” Perhaps Shakespeare hasn’t read A Tourist in Africa or Robbery Under Law. The review also notes that Lodge has written critical studies of both Waugh and Graham Greene, both of whom, like him, are Roman Catholics. Unlike them, however, Lodge grew up “knowing contentedly little about abroad or sex.” D.J. Taylor in the Guardian compares Lodge and one of his fictional heroes to Charles Ryder and also notes that Lodge’s father, who worked as a musician, played at Mrs. Meyrick’s club, the 43, immortalized by Waugh in Brideshead as Ma Mayfield’s Old Hundredth. This volume concludes with Lodge’s early university teaching career and publication of his “breakthrough campus novel” Changing Places, but a second volume is, according to the reviewers, promised.