The Death of the Author

The Death of the Author



The Pequod Review:

Gilbert Adair's The Death of the Author is an excellent novella, one that centers on the life of Leopold Sfax, a French-American postmodern literary scholar with a troubled past. The story mixes the campus satire of David Lodge, the questionable first-person narration of Nabokov, and the precise observations of Henry James. Here for example is Adair's description of Herbert Gillingwater, one of Sfax's academic rivals:

He was a kind of Peter Pan in reverse, never known to have been young. Indeed, his mousy nicotine-stained moustache and frankly sepia beard impressed one as older even than he was, deeply unappetizing hand-me-downs from some ancient parent; and it was claimed of him, an old maid of a bachelor, that if the striation of the corduroy suits he wore in all weathers looked as raggedly corrugated as it did, it was that he would freshen it simply by plunging it every six months or so into a sinkful of boiling water and detergent.