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This interview is taken from PN Review 28, Volume 9 Number 2, November - December 1982.

in conversation with Julian Symons C.J. Fox

JULIAN SYMONS-'a general dogsbody of letters', as he modestly calls himself in this interview-has recently published another collection of literary essays (Critical Observations, Faber) and, in his capacity as specialist in bloody murder, has a new novel and a collection of short stories out this year. He is now at work on three more books-biographical and crime-and maintains a steady output of criticism for a variety of publications. His recent demolition of John Malcolm Brinnin's Sextet for the Sunday Times was a model piece of creative literary homicide, while his vast and vigorous review-essay on Bruccoli's biography of F. Scott Fitzgerald for the Times Literary Supplement was an example of Symons at his expansive and trenchant best.

Since launching Twentieth Century Verse in the 1930s, the prolific Symons has pressed on from being editor of a pioneering little magazine to producing poems (an activity he is now resuming), biographies (Dickens, Carlyle, Poe, Bottomley), social history (the General Strike), military history (Buller's South African Campaign, the failed attempt to relieve Khartoum) and autobiography (Notes from Another Country) as well as an incisive and moving account of the literary 1930s, the standard study of crime fiction (Bloody Murder), historical accounts of criminology (Crime and Detection from 1840, A Reasonable Doubt) and a multitude of crime novels (The Progress of a Crime, etc.). His recent crime fiction (The Blackheath Poisonings, Sweet Adelaide) is especially noteworthy for its scholarly evocation of the Victorian period, just as-in the same spirit of what ...


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