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Very Kingsley Amis

On the occasion of English writer Kingsley Amis’s birthday (April 16), we’re introducing video to The Repository. Amis was a clear-eyed satirist best known for his comic novel Lucky Jim, published in 1954. Despite his conventional literary style, he was dubbed an “Angry Young Man” alongside writers William Cooper, John Wain, and John Braine (he had a great friendship with Oxford classmate and poet Philip Larkin, which he discusses below). Amis had a prolific career, producing over two dozen novels, six volumes of poetry, and a spate of nonfiction. Here is the BBC’s 1991 “Bookmark” episode on Amis’s life–he died in 1995.

I. On his grandfather: “a horrible little man.” And grandmother: “incredibly mean.”

“Norbury isn’t really a place, it’s an expression on a map … really I should say I come from Norbury station.”

II. “I wanted to be a writer, I suppose, before I knew what that really meant. It seemed a jolly good thing to be.”

Of his father: “He left everything, as they say, to a late girlfriend, who unfortunately proved very grasping.”

III. “I haven’t driven since the army, 45 years ago, which is a good thing if you’re fond of enjoying yourself.”

IV. To Amis: “You are rather renowned for having a bash at things that are trendy or fashionable.”

V. “For this human being, the most natural thing in the world is chatter.”

VI. “Well, I couldn’t really have done very much differently, without being someone else.”

Read Matthew Walther’s classic piece on Amis here.

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