The Oxford Companion to English Literature, all 1200-plus pages of it. And I am delighted to see that Duncan Fallowell has at last his own entry, thanks to the good judgement of its new editor Dinah Birch. She's a proper professor in the subject of literature, and far superior to her predecessor, the dull novelist Margaret Drabble, who consigned Duncan to the Travel Writing section on her watch.
I never understood why. Fallowell's eclectic and provocative work - novels, travel writing and collected journalism - has excited much critical interest from the likes of Graham Greene, William Burroughs and Camille Paglia. Yet, while virtually ignoring Fallowell, Drabble deemed motormouth Ben Elton worthy of his own entry for his disposable page-turners. The silly tart must have imagined she was editing "A Simple Guide to Bestsellers".
Birch is a Professor of English Literature at Liverpool University; previously Fellow of Trinity College, Oxford; and an expert on John Ruskin. She has restored academic credibility to the Companion, now a wonderful book. A bargain at £20 (on Amazon).
"I've revitatlised [the Companion]... I've greatly extended its range ... " says darling Dinah in this movie. What she means is, no more drab-drab-Drabble ....