THES readers' tributes to Sir Malcolm Bradbury

November 29, 2000

If there is one lesson for which I am most abidingly grateful to Malcolm Bradbury, who taught me in the early 1970s, it was the possibility of taking myself seriously as a writer. In all of my published books of both poetry and criticism, I owe a debt to his quiet and generous intelligence. He will be missed by many of us.

Gregory Woods
Professor of Gay and Lesbian Studies
The Nottingham Trent University.

Not a tribute but the continuation of an argument on the untimely death of Sir Malcolm Bradbury.

Perhaps his most well-known book, The History Man , was essentially an attack on what he saw as the opportunism of the left in the academy in the 1970s. Sadly the book was wrong and ended up helping the right. First, 20-odd years on, it is hard to spot many opportunistic lefties who have made it to professorships or vice-chancellorships. Most stuck to their principles and have struggled to find any place in academia as a result. Second, while Sir Malcolm's attack on the academic left was no doubt heartfelt - he was active in the SDP after all - it was merely part of a process whereby liberals and the left parted company in the academy. That simply made it easier for successive governments to push through spending cuts. In short history has not been kind to the History Man.

Keith Flett, London.

I learnt of the death of Sir Malcolm Bradbury from a Greek newspaper, as I sat in an Athenian cafe, just as - years before - I was devastated to read of Angela Carter's passing on the only day snow ever settled in Athens.

I shall always remember Malcolm running after me to tell me the altered time of a meeting; his pouring out wine for his students and calling himself 'teacher' all with a modesty which must be unparalleled. Similarly, unequalled in Britain was the extent to which he was open to world literature and languages; his multiple sensitivities and his feeling for the alternative, comic tradition in English literature. His mind, behaviour and soaring phraseology were all imprinted with the quick, essential intelligence and humour of the man.

Andrew Garvin, Athens.


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