THE HISTORY MAN by Malcolm Bradbury


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Busy--are they ever busy--attractive, rampantly aggressive with a large social and intellectual ""constituency,"" Howard and Barbara Kirk are the new people who've made the now scene from poorer, provincial beginnings. Barbara feels cramped by her domestic role which she manages to overlook along with their two children; Howard teaches sociology, has written two books on modern mores, and presides at one of those obtrusively futuristic perspex-domed universities. While his marriage has changed--after all he's the apostle of change--from ""consensus"" to conflict closer to boredom, he champions the ""politics of growth"" and the ""dialectic of self-statement."" Actually he's just a pushy arriviste. Those who remember Bradbury's Stepping Westward (1966) where he transcribed the American university scene will find many parallels to that earlier acute, astute book which was predominantly mime. Bradbury is far better as a scene-setter than a story-teller (after all, these self-bound people have no place to go), particularly featuring Howard's encounters with assorted women (be it the young English department teacher he ""reveals"" or willing student household helpers) or in a classroom ""ecological huddle"" with a student who refuses to evolve or at a department meeting. The title is from Gunter Grass: ""Who's Hegel?"" ""Someone who sentenced mankind to history."" Like Howard who's substituted ideas for feelings, trends for values, RELEVANT hokum for life. For all of the superb decor and data, the book may be another contingency of the same liberated deadfalls.

Pub Date: Feb. 2nd, 1975
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin