Malcolm (Stanley) Bradbury 1932–
English novelist, critic, short story writer, editor, dramatist, scriptwriter, and essayist.
A university professor whose major academic interest lies in contemporary literature, Bradbury is known for both his critical works and his satires of academic life. Much of Bradbury's fiction takes place in university settings in England or America and incorporates themes of social dislocation and liberalism.
Bradbury is one of England's most respected authorities on the modernist tradition in novels. The Social Context of Modern English Literature (1971) is a kind of modernist handbook which examines the intellectual responses of writers to historical and cultural changes. In Possibilities: Essays on the State of the Novel (1973) Bradbury advocates naturalism but also calls for a flexible approach to what he terms the "new problematics of realism." The Modern American Novel (1983) is an introductory study of American writers from 1890 to the present.
Bradbury's first novel, Eating People Is Wrong (1959), is a comic depiction of English provincial university life. In this work a British professor who considers himself a liberal humanist experiences a midlife crisis of conscience. Stepping Westward (1965), a lampoon on the differences between English and American culture, centers on a liberal, socially awkward British professor invited to lecture at an American university. The History Man (1975), perhaps Bradbury's most critically acclaimed work, was described by Margaret Drabble as raising "some very serious questions about the nature of civilization without for a moment appearing pretentious or didactic—a fine achievement." Rates of Exchange (1983), a cultural comedy about language and its contradictions, involves a professor of linguistics abroad in a mythical Eastern European province. Rachel Billington called the novel "one of the most exciting, original and worthwhile novels to appear in Britain recently."
(See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 1-4, rev. ed.; Contemporary Authors New Revision Series, Vol. 1; and Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol. 14.)