Richard Major: ‘Why I wrote the world’s first satirical novel about Trump’

IndieBooks’ Richard Major has been talking to Oxford Today about how he came to pre-write a satirical novel about Trump.

‘…In autumn 2015 my family and I were living in Budapest. On a certain night of November, a night as dark-and-stormy as any gothic yarn might require, I enjoyed an elaborate nightmare. I saw the students of a huge Northern ex-polytechnic invent a mascot, a made-up student. They cobbled its portrait together with Photoshop, using visual scraps from here and there; they registered it for its course, meaning to write its essays, and eventually get it its degree – for at this dreadful place no student need ever speak to a lecturer. Only the creators outdid themselves. They emptied into their concoction all the filth of their own ids: ideas too dire to air on their own Facebook pages. Their mascot became hypnotically awful; became nationally infamous; rose to supreme power; dragged the country into general ruin. – Such was my nightmare. 

In a way it’s easily analysed. As everyone knows, Mary Shelley had a similar dream, which she wrote up over the next three days; this eventually grew into the novel Frankenstein. We had been talking about Frankenstein before I went to bed that night; here was Frankenstein’s creature reimagined. 

The difference is that Mrs Shelley, being an optimistic Liberal, gave her  monster no political role. Its public acts are limited to murders; it didn’t stand for office in the Republic of Geneva. 

But what if it had? There’s a kink in human nature (Augustine called it the mysterium iniquitatis) which draws us toward iniquity, if the iniquity’s sufficiently extreme and bizarre.Frankenstein’s creature was so frightful, so unreal – physically as well as morally – that it would surely have spoken to the basest layer of humanity, always a lively constituency. Wouldn’t it have been enthralling? So enthralling that in the end it would be irresistible? 

Anyway, I jotted down my dream; in pious imitation of Mary Shelley I managed this in three days, between lectures. Then I put it away and pretty much forgot it. 

A year later it came to mind again because history had jumped tracks.  Autumn 2015 is a long, long time ago. The issues in international politics were the Paris climate agreement and intervention in Syria. Even American politics were adult: either Jeb or Rubio was to be the Republican nominee; the debates were about the economy. Donald Trump was low-comic relief at the margin of affairs; I’d scarcely heard of him. 

But now it’s as if Shakespeare’s hunchback had hobbled downstage, dropped himself onto the shoulders of the groundlings, been carried with howls across London Bridge, been deposited in the palace, given the crown. We have slid (suddenly, how suddenly!) into an age of made-up monsters. Satire cannot keep up with the phantasmagoria…’

Intrigued? Luckily begat is still available on our website for the special launch price of just £5.

 

Announcing the Little Lit Series

Yesterday Faber announced the launch of ‘Faber Educational Editions‘, a new series for GCSE, IGCSE and A Level students. Each edition combines the complete text of a frequently studied Faber work with an ‘approachable, stimulating and author-approved study guide’.

As a small independent publisher, it is sometimes hard to predict where the industry is heading – but it’s good to know that this time we definitely seem to be on the right track.

In March 2017 we will be releasing our ‘Little Lit’ series, aimed primarily at A-Level and undergraduate students. Written by leading academics in their field, the Little Lit books offer a more sophisticated analysis of the chosen texts than their alternatives, whilst being condensed enough to remain affordable for students, and accessible to the general reader.

The current titles are as follows, with more to come in the future!

  • Henrik Ibsen: ‘A Dolls House’, Stephen Siddall
  • Reading Dickens’ Bleak House, Richard Gravil
  • T S Eliot: ‘Prufrock’ and ‘The Waste Land’, C J Ackerley
  • Joseph Conrad: ‘The Secret Agent’, Cedric Watts
  • D H Lawrence: Selected Short Stories, Andrew Harrison
  • English Renaissance Drama: A Very Brief Introduction, Charles Moseley
  • Paul Scott: ‘The Raj Quartet’ and ‘Staying On’, John Lennard
  • Mary Shelley: ‘Frankenstein’, Esseka Joshua
  • Ted Hughes: New Selected Poems, Neil Roberts
  • Reading Thomas Hardy: Selected Poems, Neil Wenborn

“Excellent … It deserves wide circulation as an introduction to the study of Lawrence’s short fiction and I would have no hesitation in recommending it to both A level and undergraduate students.”

Peter Preston on Andrew Harrison’s ‘D.H Lawrence: Selected Short Stories’ 

About the Authors 

Chris Ackerley is a celebrated scholar of Modernist and Postmodernist writing. His specialty is annotation, particularly of the works of Malcolm Lowry and Samuel Beckett. His books include: A Companion to “˜Under the Volcano (Vancouver: UBC Press, 1984); Demented Particulars: The Annotated “Murphy” (1998; 2nd ed., rev. Tallahassee, FL: Journal of Beckett Studies Books, 2004); The Faber Companion to Samuel Beckett (London: Faber & Faber, 2006) with S. E. Gontarski; and Obscure Locks, SimpleKeys: The Annotated “Watt” (Tallahassee, FL: Journal of Beckett Studies Books, 2005).

Richard Gravil is the author of three monographs, and of Literature Insights on Elizabeth Gaskell: Mary Barton and Wordsworth: Lyrical Ballads. He has edited or co-edited Master Narratives: Tellers and Telling in the English Novel (Ashgate, 2001), and critical works on Swift, Wordsworth, and Coleridge. He is Commissioning Editor of Humanities-Ebooks, LLP; Chairman of the Wordsworth Conference Foundation, and Director of the Wordsworth Winter School.

Andrew Harrison lectures in English Literature at the Technische Universität Darmstadt, Germany. He has published numerous articles on D. H. Lawrence, and is the author of D. H. Lawrence and Italian Futurism (2003), co-editor (with John Worthen) of a casebook of modern critical essays on Sons and Lovers (2005). He edits the Journal of D. H. Lawrence Studies.

Essaka Joshua teaches at the University of Notre Dame. She has published several articles on Romantic and Victorian literature, including studies of Mary Shelley, William Wordsworth, Thomas Lovell Beddoes, and Charlotte Brontë. Dr Joshua is the author of Pygmalion and Galatea: The History of a Narrative in English Literature (Ashgate, 2001), and a textbook on The Remains of the Day (First and Best, 2004) and The Romantics and the May Day Tradition (Ashgate, 2007).

John Lennard has taught for the Universities of London, Cambridge, and Notre Dame du Lac, for the Open University, for Fairleigh Dickinson University on-line, and as Professor of British and American Literature at the University of the West Indies—Mona. His publications include But I Digress: The Exploitation of Parentheses in English Printed Verse (Clarendon Press, 1991), The Poetry Handbook (OUP, 1996; 2/e 2005), with Mary Luckhurst The Drama Handbook (OUP, 2002), and Of Modern Dragons and other essays on Genre Fiction (HEB, 2007).

Charles Moseley teaches English and Classics in the University of Cambridge, and was formerly Programme Director of the University’s International summer Schools in Shakespeare and English Literature. He has written extensively on Shakespeare and mediaeval literature, and in this series has written on Henry IV, The Tempest and Richard III. (Charles is also author of the wonderful Latitude North).

Neil Roberts is a Professor of English Literature at the University of Sheffield. He is the author of George Eliot: Her Beliefs and Her Art (Elek, 1975), Ted Hughes: A Critical Study (with Terry Gifford, Faber, 1981), The Lover, the Dreamer and the World: the Poetry of Peter Redgrove (Sheffield Academic Press, 1994), Meredith and the Novel (Macmillan, 1997), Narrative and Voice in Postwar Poetry (Longman, 1999), D. H. Lawrence , Travel and Cultural Difference (Palgrave, 2004), Ted Hughes: A Literary Life (Palgrave, 2006), and D. H. Lawrence: ‘Women in Love’ (Literature Insights, 2007). He is the editor of A Companion to Twentieth-Century Poetry (Blackwell, 2001) and of The Colour of Radio: Essays and Interviews by Peter Redgrove (Stride, 2006).

Stephen Siddall has taught Shakespeare courses for university students and for the University of Cambridge International Summer School. He has directed for BBC television and for the (open air) Pendley Shakespeare Festival and has written a student guide for Macbeth (2002), Shakespeare on Stage (2008) and Landscape and Literature (2009) for Cambridge University Press.

Cedric Watts, Research Professor at Sussex University, has written six books on Conrad (including ‘A Preface to Conrad and The Deceptive Text’) and has edited ten volumes of Conrad’s fiction (among them ‘Nostromo’ and ‘Heart of Darkness’). 

 Neil Wenborn has published widely both in Britain and in the United States. His works include biographies of Haydn, Stravinsky and Dvoøák. He is co-editor of the highly respected History Today Companion to British History (Collins & Brown) and A Dictionary of Jewish–Christian Relations (Cambridge University Press), as well as of the poetry anthology Contourlines: New Responses to Landscape in Word and Image (Salt Publishing). A collection of his poetry, Firedoors, is published by Rockingham Press.