Life

The Godfather of British Literature and His Dark Satire

  British author Martin Amis (Martin Amis) succumbed to esophageal cancer at his residence in Florida, USA, on May 19, 2023 local time. He was 73 years old.
  Amis emerged as a dazzling star in the British literary scene after his debut novel “The Rachel Papers” won the Somerset Maugham Award in 1973: a brilliant prodigy who liberated his spirit and unleashed astonishing creativity. He ascended to the pinnacle of the literary world in the 1980s with a series of stylized works: “Money – A Suicide Note” (1984) was included in Time magazine’s “100 Best English-language Novels”; “Time’s Arrow – The Nature of Crime” (1991) and “Yellow Dog” (2003) were shortlisted for the Booker Prize; his most recent acclaimed work, “The Zone of Interest” (2014), which focuses on the horrific years of Auschwitz concentration camp, was adapted into a Cannes Film Festival main competition entry by director Jonathan Glazer.
  Amis’s works are avant-garde in form, scathing in satire, fierce in style and replete with black humor. He is hailed as the “Godfather of British Literature”, and he is considered one of the “Big Three” of British writers along with Ian McEwan and Julian Barnes. Amis often targets heartless elites and demagogues in his novels, delivering a biting sarcasm of the social maladies of the Thatcher and Reagan eras. For nearly half a century, one theme has remained prominent in his writing: the ruthless struggle for power that defines nearly all of our relationships.
  ”The novelist’s idea of rewarding virtue and punishing vice can no longer hold. The filthy and vulgar things, of course, have become one of my materials… I use all the absurdities I see around me, the familiar desolation and pity . . . In these days there is a spectacle of poverty, decay, and misery.”
Imbued with potions and penning “Money”, “Crime” and “Intellect”

  Amis published 15 novels in his lifetime, the most representative of which is his “London Trilogy”: “Money – A Suicide Note” (1984), “London Fields” (1989) and “The Information” (1995). This gifted pupil who came from a literary family and graduated from Oxford, caught up with his father’s anti-modernist writers all the way, and experimented with a set of postmodern techniques of “describing vulgar things in an elegant style”.
  In 1984, Amis published the idiosyncratic social satire “Money: A Suicide Note,” about John Self, a corpulent, hedonistic filmmaker whose business is “cigarettes alcohol, junk food, and nude magazines.” In order to get more money, this rapacious profiteer made pornographic films recklessly and traveled between London and New York, two money-worshiping metropolises all day long. ”

  Judging from the nomenclature of the characters in the novel by Amis, Self is an exceedingly “egoistic” villain, and his hobbies almost all point to the sinful nature of people: “swearing, fighting, shooting, womanizing, drugging, boozing, overeating, gambling, masturbating”. In the web of money and sex, Self is barefaced with everyone around him. Money gratifies his despicable and greedy desires, and also lays the groundwork for him to plummet into hell.
  Interestingly, Amis inserted himself in “Money”. “Martin Amis” in the novel is a playwright who works for Self, and Self coerces him to add violent pornographic scenes in the script “Good Money”… The down-and-out Self later has a chess bet with Amis. Amis ruthlessly annihilates him. In the end, Self crashes into the subway to kill himself, and the “Good Money” in his pocket becomes a suicide note to accompany him to death.
  ”Everyone is more interested in bad news. There is only one writer who has ever written convincingly about happiness, and that is Tolstoy. No one else seems to be able to animate happiness. ”
  Amis’s novels are bright and piquant, and at the same time imbued with the distinctive odor of street pornography, but he pointed out: “As long as you read the street tabloids, you will see more terrifying things than what I described.” There are often villains and thugs, but when these characters are placed in a situation of moral decay, they will also “captivate” readers by exposing people’s true sinful nature.
  In 1989, Amis published more than 500 pages of “London Fields”. The protagonist of the novel, Keith Talent, is a rogue dart player who lives alone. loyal. On the eve of the millennium, Sikes died mysteriously…suicide? murder? The “London Field” has become a symbol of desolation full of anxiety about death, and it is also the suicide of human beings before the end of the world.
  ”Suicide, the darkest, saddest story of all. It arouses fear and pity in me, but it also drives my hand as I write… Chesterton said that suicide is heavier than murder. A murderer kills only one person. A suicide kills everyone.”
  ”London Fields” is a dark satire set against a decadent post-apocalyptic backdrop, and in his 1987 collection of short stories “Einstein’s Monsters,” Amis presented a series of satirical stories before and after “nuclear apocalypse.” A world of violence, chrono-sickness, dragon-like dogs, immortals, and “Einstein’s monsters”—those dehumanized by nuclear weapons and survivors deformed by radiation.
  ”I was born on August 25, 1949. Four days later, the Soviets successfully tested their first atomic bomb, and nuclear deterrence was born. That means I only had four carefree days, which is already far better than those younger than me.”

  Various human atrocities have always been a topic of concern to Amis. In “Time’s Arrow-The Nature of Crime” in 1991, he used the “reversing” flashback technique to let Nazi war criminals in World War II recount their experiences in concentration camps. In the inverted narration of his medical practice experience going back from the grave to the cradle, Amis unveiled the truth about the crime that the military doctor did not save lives, but deliberately killed people. The same theme involving Nazi concentration camps later reappeared in his 2014 novel “The Zone of Interest.”
  In his late creation, Amis began to focus on the themes of his novels such as the Holocaust, expressing his willingness to deal with grand and profound historical themes. In “House of Meetings” published in 2006, he told the story of the dreaded Gulag concentration camp.
  In 1989, Amis’s “London Fields” sparked a fierce debate in the Booker Prize jury. Two female judges tried their best to reject the novel because they could not tolerate the bloody scene of the heroine being brutally killed. Although he was nominated for the Booker Prize twice later, Amis, who was described as “a literary master dipped in ecstasy and writing”, missed this British literary award in his life, and several novels of his generation closely related to him All players (McEwan, Rushdie and Barnes) have won this honor.
  In his 1995 novel “The Information”, Amis tells the story of two writer friends who become rivals when one of them becomes famous and rich. Writing about one of the dueling writers, he might be saying of himself: “He doesn’t want to please his readers. He wants to torture them until they scream.”
“Dad” and “Bad Boy”

  ”Bad Boy” Amis was 51 when the non-fiction “Experience” was published in 2000.
  ”In this day and age, what everyone wears is not a novel, but a memoir.”
  Around 1995 when he wrote this memoir, middle-aged Amis experienced: divorce, marriage, 19-year-old illegitimate daughter The cousin who suddenly appeared and disappeared for nearly 20 years turned out to be the prey of a serial killer, complicated and terrifying large-scale dental surgery, received a letter of renunciation from a writer friend because of a change of agent, and the novel “The Information” was published. of death.
  Martin Amis’ father, Kingsley Amis, was also a novelist who rose to fame with “Angry Young Men” in the 1950s. Amis introduced Dad, ”
He won the award for his first novel ‘Lucky Jim’ in 1954″, and then said proudly, “20 years later, I also won this award.
  ” “The Rachel Papers” won the Somerset Maugham Award in one fell swoop, and this work is known as a “literary genius” comparable to “The Catcher in the Rye” Anthem of youth. The protagonist in the book, Charles Highway, is a sensitive young man who aspires to become a writer. The story tells the story of his 20th birthday, when he reminisced about his first love. The time span of this novel is only one night, but through memory flashbacks and other stream-of-consciousness techniques, it presents the transformation of a teenager’s growth. London’s “Times Literary Supplement” commented on Amis’s creation: “It is impossible to help but associate him with Joyce.”
  Recalling the publication of his debut many years later, Amis half-jokingly said, because his literary agent also took care of his father, “so the whole thing is tacitly based on a relationship. Any one London publishing house will publish my first novel out of vulgar curiosity.” Everyone would like to see father and son compete in the literary world.
  ”Fame is a worthless commodity. Occasionally, fame gets you special treatment, if you want that. But more than that, it gets you malicious curiosity.”

  The Amis father and son were “angry young men” in their early years, with eccentric tempers and harsh words. Whether it is Jim in “Lucky Jim” or John Self in “Money,” the protagonists in father and son masterpieces are characterized by weakness and self-deception. The writing of the two also practiced the creed of the old Amis: “A real writer should be able to write anything, whether it is an Easter sermon or a whiskey flyer.” In 1975, Amis began to serve
  as Assistant editor of the “Times Literary Supplement” and simultaneously published a second novel “Dead Babies”, depicting six young people who spent a weekend of debauchery and atrocities in a large house in the suburbs of London: they drink, take drugs, indulge in sex, Massacre… As if Pandora’s box had been opened, Amis revealed the shocking dark secrets of a group of British youths, directly hitting their “immature death of spirit and soul”.
  ”Youth may be defined this way: youth is the illusion of your own permanence. When the illusion finally evaporates, it leaves the skin under the eyes dry and wrinkled, and your hair crackle dry when you brush it .Youth is over. Trouble comes. Dead stars do what an alchemist’s nightmare does: gold turns to gray lead.”
  At the age of 27, Amis was hired by the editorial department of the “New Statesman Weekly”. After the publication of the novels “Success” (1978) and “Other People: A Mystery Story” (1981), he became a full-time writer and gave Writes literary reviews for several newspapers. Amis’s texts are very enjoyable to read, and sometimes reveal black humor. He likes to absorb fresh words from street slang and industry jargon. This kind of popular language rooted in daily life has been imitated by other young writers and reporters and became fashionable .
  ”Of course my work pales if you take it seriously. But here’s the point: they’re satire. I don’t see myself as a prophet; I’m not writing social commentary. My books are playful essays.”
  Amis’s novels resemble social caricatures. It is said that he loved to read comic books when he was a child. When he was 12 years old, his parents divorced. When he was a teenager, he and his brother moved to the new home formed by his father. His stepmother and novelist Elizabeth Jane Howard once guided him to read Jane Austen’s novels, which became Amis’s earliest literary enlightenment. . His teenage self, he writes, “crafted his voice, wore a velvet suit and snakeskin boots” and developed an absurd “deliberate rambling” demeanor, while his old man was exuberant and womanly , talking and laughing all day long, like an inexhaustible “comedy engine” at home.
  The middle-aged Amis recalled in “Experience”: the old Amis, who was born in the middle and lower classes, was still a fan of nobles. He would dream of the queen, but it would stop at kisses. If he dreamed of Mrs. Thatcher, “usually it will go deeper. A little.” In 1990, 68-year-old Kingsley Amis was knighted and enjoyed the title for five years before his death.
  ”Dad. What class do we belong to?” Amis asked after his young son became a father. “We don’t belong to any class. We don’t care about those things.” He tried to put it off, but his son didn’t give up. “Then what are we?” “We’re outside of all those classes and stuff. We’re intellectuals.” At the end of the conversation, he recorded his son’s reaction in a self-deprecating tone: “‘Oh,’ he said, with a falsetto in his voice, ‘am I an intellectual?'”

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