Critical Essays on Ronald Firbank, English Novelist, 1886-1926

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This international collection of critical essays addresses Firbank’s fiction from a variety of perspectives. The essays cover the full range of Firbank’s fictional output and include pieces on Vainglory, Odette D’Antrevernes, Inclinations, Sorrow in Sunlight, The Flower Beneath the Foot and Concerning the Eccentricities of Cardinal Pirelli. The minor writings are also addressed. The collection seeks to establish Firbank as a novelist who is more important to the development of literary modernism than his current reputation as a minor cult figure suggests.


“Dealing with taboo subjects such as homosexuality as well as absurdism, dandyism and decadence, Firbank had feet both in the 1890s and in the 1920a. The current collection of essays looks carefully at all these areas in a variety of approaches which are subtle and intelligent and which, whilst cognisant of the place of Firbank, nevertheless strenuously argue for an immediate reassessment of his work. The essays are interesting and entertaining and the entire collection is an important contribution to contemporary discussions of English Literature and of a significant forgotten writer.” – Professor Clive Bloom, Chair of Humanities, Middlesex University

“…has range, variety and a genuinely contemporary set of critical starting points. The contributions are generally well written and manage the difficult feat of combining expertise with accessibility. Individual texts are revisited and general issues of literary and publishing history are explored and overall an encouraging sense of critics measuring a new place for Firbank runs convincingly through the collection.” – Desmond Graham, Professor of Poetry, The University of Newcastle upon Tyne

“Firbank (1886-1926) is a cult novelist--revered by a coterie of fans, but otherwise little known. The recent interest in gay writers has resulted in renewed interest in Firbank, and British novelist Alan Hollinghurst in particular has championed him. Since the only major book devoted to the author in the last decade is Stephen Moore's Ronald Firbank: An Annotated Bibliography of Secondary Materials, 1905-1995 (1996), the present volume is timely. ... This book indicates Firbank's continued influence, especially on gay readers. Summing Up: Recommended. Academic libraries supporting British modernism or gay studies at the upper-division undergraduate level and above; large public libraries.” – CHOICE

Table of Contents

Preface by Jopi Nyman
Introduction: Some Contexts for a Re-Reading of Ronald Firbank (John Simons)
Overviews of Firbank’s Fiction
1. Ronald Firbank’s Radical Pastorals (Don Adams)
2. Concerning the Eccentricities of Ronald Firbank: Cult, Camp, and Intersexual Collage (Richard Collins)
3. Microtextual Cruelties and the Subversive Imagination in Ronald Firbank’s Novels (Ingrid Hotz-Davies)
4. Modernism Through the Back Door: Ronald Firbank and the Cultivation of a Readership (Alyson Tischler)
Essays on Particular Texts
5. The Artificial Conversation of Ronald Firbank: or, Dialogue for Weary People (Jed Mayer)
6. Fairy-Tale Fissures: The Reciprocal Quest in Odette D’Antrevernes (Kurt Bullock)
7. Laying It Bare and Being Naughty with the Novel: Ronald Firbank and Henry Green (David Malcolm)
8. Ronald Firbank’s The Flower Beneath the Foot as a Dialogue Novel (Susan Harrington)
9. Private Dreams, Public Realities: An Analysis of Female Characters in Ronald Firbank’s The Flower Beneath the Foot (Pilar Sánchez Calle)
10. “A New Epoch of Artifice”: Concerning the Cultural Eccentricities of Cardinal Pirelli (Nick Freeman)

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