Born and reared in the North of England, Howard Kirk has made his way up the educational and, consequently, social ladder in a class-conscious society. From his working-class origins, via grammar school and Leeds University, he has moved to the newest of higher educational institutions, the University of Watermouth, to the south of Leeds. The university may very well be like that at which the author himself teaches, the University of East Anglia in Norwich, Sussex. Having been graduated with a “first,” the English version of the American summa cum laude, Howard energetically and grittily patterns personal and academic life after the liberation sociology of the 1960’s. With unprincipled ferocity, he beds colleagues, colleagues’ wives, and students, applying the new religion as well to the classroom, department meetings, and other campus activities. With Machiavellian cunning, he seduces minds and bodies indiscriminately, encouraging all who come within his periphery to follow him into the brave new world.
As he enjoys his latest conquest, Miss Callendar, she murmurs, “Historical inevitability,” and he responds, “Marx arranged it.” Sociological justification for every experience becomes Howard’s uncompromising principle. It takes on Rabelaisian proportions in his liaison with Flora Beniform, who outplays Howard in his own game by doling out her favors only at her convenience. Otherwise, Howard manipulates the most prim of female colleagues or the most sex-starved of students, all in the name of a higher consciousness to which the new man is called. Indeed, the title of Howard’s book is The Coming of the New Sex.
(The entire section is 681 words.)