Monday, April 16, 2007

Bookmark of the Week: No. 10

Kingsley Amis was born on this day in 1922, and died at the relatively early age of 73 in 1995. Robert Conquest (pseudonym of George Robert Acworth) was working for the Foreign Office when Kingsley met him and they became friends due to their mutual interest in, among other things, science fiction. In his Memoirs (Hutchinson, 1991) Kingsley Amis devotes a chapter to Robert Conquest and the following passage is drawn from it:

He was one of the first members of the British Interplanetary Society, and published a novel in the genre, A World of Difference, in 1955. It featured a verse-writing computer, with profuse specimens given, and of course a 'Poet' class of space cruisers that included the Jennings, Larkin, Enright, Amis, Gunn and Holloway. From 1961 to 1966 Bob and I collaborated on the editing of five science-fiction anthologies, Spectrum - Spectrum V, and in 1965 on a straight novel, The Egyptologists, which greatly annoyed some women with its battle-of-the-sexes plot (in fact the women came out of it one up on the men) and amused others, recently the great Ruth Rendell. [p.147]

In the anthology The New Oxford Book of Light Verse (1978) edited by Amis, there are a number of entries written by Robert Conquest but given under the pseudonyms of Victor Gray, Stuart Howard-Jones, and I believe also Ted Pauker. Quite the wit. Amis includes additional limericks in his memoirs, ones perhaps too profane for the anthology, and perhaps too informal, or is it thersitical, for this bookmark number. I leave them to you.

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