A comprehensive companion to the novelist's darkly comic social and historical works
In this introduction to prolific British novelist Beryl Bainbridge, Brett Josef Grubisic provides a biographical sketch of the writer, discussion of her motivations and techniques, and a detailed survey of her fiction that places the works in the traditions of British black comedy, social novels, and historical fiction.
Born near Liverpool in 1934, Bainbridge has explained that her troubled youth was instrumental in her choice to write novels. A fractious family, discouraging social milieu, and wartime deprivations forged the darkly comic perspective that informs Bainbridge's fiction.
Emerging on the literary scene in the 1970s with widely praised novels such as The Dressmaker, The Bottle Factory Outing, Sweet William, A Quiet Life, and Injury Time, Bainbridge quickly established a reputation for her keen observations of social dysfunction and her darkly comic tone. In approaching her works, Grubisic maps Bainbridge's movement from social to historical novels, beginning with the comic historicism of Young Adolf and continuing to her most recent fiction, The Birthday Boys, Every Man for Himself, Master Georgie, and According to Queeney. Grubisic holds that in portraying historical events through a variety of narrative techniques or from oblique vantage points, Bainbridge's latest novels partially ally themselves with the style and ideological concerns of literary postmodernism while still recalling the defining view of hardship established in her youth.
Brett Josef Grubisic is a lecturer in the Department of English at the University of British Columbia. The author of a novel, The Age of Cities, he also edited Contra/diction: New Queer Male Fiction and coedited with Carellin Brooks Carnal Nation, an anthology of Canadian fiction.