Paul Delany

Paul Delany is a professor of English at Simon Fraser University, British Columbia. He is the author of D.H. Lawrence’s Nightmare and is now engaged in writing about Rupert Brooke.

Vivre comme chien et chat

Paul Delany, 20 August 1992

The population of Québec is about seven million, all of them minorities. The Jews, for whom Mordecai Richler makes his complaint (though not only for them), are outnumbered by 11 to one in the English-speaking community. The English are outnumbered five to one by the French, but the French are outnumbered by three to one in Canada as a whole. In North America, finally, the Americans have Canadians outnumbered by a factor of ten.

Finding out who you were

Paul Delany, 6 August 1992

‘In later life I have been sometimes praised, sometimes mocked, for my way of pointing out the mythical elements that seem to me to underlie our apparently ordinary lives.’ Dunstan Ramsay, the hero of Robertson Davies’s Fifth Business, says this; but one can assume that Davies is also talking about the reception of his own novels. To reduce character and incident to their ‘mythical elements’ can be criticised as an evasion of the novelist’s proper task, which is to document the social arrangements of a specific time and place.

Modern Virginity

Paul Delany, 27 February 1992

On 29 July 1912, Rupert Brooke was spending a disconsolate evening at the Crown Hotel, Everleigh, where he had been staying for five days at a house party hosted by J.M. Keynes. The cause of Rupert’s distress was the departure that day of Noel Olivier, to go climbing in Switzerland. Her elder sister Brynhild had left with her, off to climb in Wales with Hugh Popham, to whom she had just become engaged.

Voyage to Uchronia

Paul Delany, 29 August 1991

In February 1812, Byron stood up to speak for the first time in the House of Lords. His speech was a passionate defence of the Nottingham weavers – followers of the mythical King Ludd – who had been smashing the new mechanical stocking-frames; and for the rest of his life Byron went on arguing that ‘we must not allow mankind to be sacrificed to improvements in mechanism.’ But what might have happened if the enemies of mechanism had changed their minds? The Difference Engine is one answer, in the form of an ‘uchronic’ novel: set in ‘no time’, instead of Utopia’s ‘no place’.’

Keeping up the fight

Paul Delany, 24 January 1991

When Willie Hopkin first caught sight of D.H. Lawrence in his pram, he thought him a ‘puny, fragile little specimen’. Forty-four years later the fragile specimen died, reduced by tuberculosis to a weight of 90 pounds. It is understandable, then, that Jeffrey Meyers should make much of Lawrence’s ‘lifelong invalidism’, and conclude his biography with an appendix called ‘A History of Illness’. Lawrence himself tempted biographers along this road by saying that ‘one sheds one’s sickness in books’: doesn’t this mean that the sickness is the key to the work, linking the man who creates to the pattern of his creation like the skin left behind by the snake?

While the existence of Brooke’s correspondences with Noel Olivier and James Strachey was known – it was just that they couldn’t be read – another set of letters that no one since Eddie Marsh...

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Give us a break: Gissing’s Life

Rosemarie Bodenheimer, 9 July 2009

‘For Gissing,’ Paul Delany notes, ‘writing was a grim and lonely task, made grimmer by one of the most disastrous family lives of any English writer. At times this misery...

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‘The Policeman’s Daughter’, 1945. In the summer of 1927, 23-year-old Willy Brandt underwent psychoanalysis in Vienna in an attempt to cure his tuberculosis. He had spent the...

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Gabriele Annan, 3 September 1987

Bloomsbury on the left, Neo-Pagans on the right, these columns represent, more or less, Paul Delany’s relative definition of the two Edwardian intellectual groups. The first two pairs of...

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