Beckett’s Company assembles a wide selection of Zulfikar Ghose’s essays, from the personal to the scholarly. His personal memoir, ‘The Road to Delhi’, of his family driving across post-partition India before emigrating to England, is a poignant portrayal of loss and expectation. Another memoir, ‘Brazilian Beaches’, with its gorgeous evocation of Brazil, ends with the surprise of discovering an association of Pakistan in Buenos Aires. Zulfikar Ghose’s literary essays are critical perceptions into literature that derive their inspiration from the criticism written by poets from Alexander Pope to Octavio Paz, but composed in a style unique in contemporary criticism: the experience of literature is presented as an event in the reader’s consciousness where the reader’s sensibility is subsumed within a writer’s restructuring of reality in a new form. For Ghose, the aesthetic question is paramount, and he enters the complex language of his subjects to investigate each author’s essential vision, writing in a prose that is vivid, witty, and always lucid. Some of his subjects—Shakespeare, Beckett, Woolf—are familiar; some—Thomas Berger, Machado de Assis, Christopher Middleton—will be new for some readers, who will thus enjoy the challenge of original ideas in the discussion of familiar authors and the delight of discovering new writers. The book has a highly readable style and will be a welcome addition to books on critical essays. ‘The essays on literary criticism contain valuable insights on the craft of fiction and, on representation in both art and literature. Ghose’s tone is commanding, introspective, ironical but never intimidating. This quality alone makes this selection of essays a significant resource for post-graduate students of English Literature’. Shireen Rahim, Dept. of English, University of the Punjab.
Zulfikar Ghose was born in Sialkot, Pakistan, and has lived in England and the United States for much of his life. He was educated at Sloane School, London, where the headmaster, Guy Boas, a Shakespeare scholar, encouraged him to write, and at Keele University where he received his BA in English and Philosophy. He edited the university’s literary magazine and the national anthology, Universities’ Poetry. After graduating, he lived in London where he worked as a cricket and hockey reporter for The Observer, wrote book reviews for the Times Literary Supplement and The Spectator, regularly contributed to the Arts page of The Western Daily Press in Bristol and also worked as a school teacher. In 1969, he was invited by the University of Texas at Austin to teach where he held the distinguished position of Susan Taylor McDaniel Regents Professor in Creative Writing. He retired in 2007. He continues to live in Austin with his wife, the Brazilian artist, Helena de la Fontaine.
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