David Lodge is a man of letters, firmly grounded in his own creative experience and blessed with wonderful wit. In 1987, Lodge retired from a distinguished career as Professor of Modern English Literature at the University of Birmingham (England) to devote full time to his writing. Most of the pieces in THE PRACTICE OF WRITING have been written since then, many for specific situations such as conference presentations, pubic lectures, or book introductions.
The selections in part one focus on the novel. Lodge looks at the state of the contemporary novel, delving into the lives and works of novelists who have influenced his own writing such as D. H. Lawrence, Graham Greene, James Joyce, and Vladimir Nabokov. He also addresses a perennial question in his essay titled “Creative Writing: Can it/Should it be Taught?” Given Lodge’s considerable achievements as both critic and creative writer, his perspective may be of special interest to people on both sides of the fence.
Lodge also bridges gaps in part two. He looks at the differences between writing novels and writing for performance (stage or screen), in terms of what the novelist must relinquish as well as the extra dimensions and satisfactions that may come from performance of one’s work. Lodge’s accounts of adapting novels for television (his own, as well as Charles Dickens’) are particularly interesting, as are excerpts from the diary Lodge kept during the production of his play THE WRITING GAME by the Birmingham Repertory Theatre in 1990.
Lodge says that he has “never felt there was any conflict or contradiction between being a self-aware creative writer and an analytical, formalist critic at the same time.” Acknowledging that writing about one’s work does carry certain risks, Lodge seems more than willing to accept them. Readers who already love Lodge’s novels will love getting to know the man behind the words in this collection. It will also be fertile ground for people interested in creative writing in any medium.