Years after enjoying a moderate success in the States, Austin Wright’s Tony and Susan, a disturbing but beautifully written novel, is enjoying quite a success in the UK. I wish Austin were alive to see this happening. He was one of my favorite professors in grad school, and in his role as director of graduate studies a compassionate mentor. Everyone in my graduate program was fascinated by the difference between the impression he gave in the classroom and the one he gave in his books. He had quite an internal life. Outwardly, gentle, tweedy and professorial, inwardly obviously deeply passionate and intrigued by the suffering we cause one another.
In his seminar, The Formal Principle in the Novel, I first realized that most novels do have organic forms that echo the underlying exploration or mystery. One of the most valuable lessons I received in grad school.