Brian (Lester) Glanville Biography
Brian Glanville comments:
Nationality: British. Born: London, 1931. Education: Newlands School; Charterhouse School, Surrey, 1945-49. Career: Literary adviser, Bodley Head, publishers, London, 1958-62. Since 1958 sportswriter for the Sunday Times, London. Awards: Berlin Film Festival award, for documentary, 1963; British Film Academy award, for documentary, 1967; Thomas Coward Memorial award, 1969; Sports Council Reporter of the Year award, 1982. Agent: John Farquharson, 162-168 Regent Street, London W1R 5TB.
The Reluctant Dictator. London, Laurie, 1952.
Henry Sows the Wind. London, Secker and Warburg, 1954.
Along the Arno. London, Secker and Warburg, 1956; New York, Crowell, 1957.
The Bankrupts. London, Secker and Warburg, and New York, Doubleday, 1958.
After Rome, Africa. London, Secker and Warburg, 1959.
Diamond. London, Secker and Warburg, and New York, FarrarStraus, 1962.
The Rise of Gerry Logan. London, Secker and Warburg, 1963; NewYork, Delacorte Press, 1965.
A Second Home. London, Secker and Warburg, 1965; New York, Delacorte Press, 1966.
A Roman Marriage. London, Joseph, 1966; New York, CowardMcCann, 1967.
The Artist Type. London, Cape, 1967; New York, Coward McCann, 1968.
The Olympian. New York, Coward McCann, and London, Secker andWarburg, 1969.
A Cry of Crickets. London, Secker and Warburg, and New York, Coward McCann, 1970.
The Financiers. London, Secker and Warburg, 1972; as Money Is Love, New York, Doubleday, 1972.
The Comic. London, Secker and Warburg, 1974; New York, Stein andDay, 1975.
The Dying of the Light. London, Secker and Warburg, 1976.
Never Look Back. London, Joseph, 1980.
Kissing America. London, Blond, 1985.
The Catacomb. London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1988.
A Bad Streak and Other Stories. London, Secker and Warburg, 1961.
The Director's Wife and Other Stories. London, Secker and Warburg, 1963.
Goalkeepers Are Crazy: A Collection of Football Stories. London, Secker and Warburg, 1964.
The King of Hackney Marshes and Other Stories. London, Secker andWarburg, 1965.
A Betting Man. New York, Coward McCann, 1969.
Penguin Modern Stories 10, with others. London, Penguin, 1972.
The Thing He Loves and Other Stories. London, Secker and Warburg, 1973.
A Bad Lot and Other Stories. London, Penguin, 1977.
Love Is Not Love and Other Stories. London, Blond, 1985.
A Visit to the Villa (produced Chichester, Sussex, 1981).
Underneath the Arches, with Patrick Garland and Roy Hudd (produced Chichester, Sussex, 1981; London, 1982).
The Diary, 1987; I Could Have Been King, 1988.
Television Documentaries: European Centre Forward, 1963.
Cliff Bastin Remembers, with Cliff Bastin. London, Ettrick Press, 1950.
Arsenal Football Club. London, Convoy, 1952.
Soccer Nemesis. London, Secker and Warburg, 1955.
World Cup, with Jerry Weinstein. London, Hale, 1958.
Over the Bar, with Jack Kelsey. London, Paul, 1958.
Soccer round the Globe. London, Abelard Schuman, 1959.
Know about Football (for children). London, Blackie, 1963.
World Football Handbook (annual). London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1964; London, Mayflower, 1966-72; London, Queen Anne Press, 1974.
People in Sport. London, Secker and Warburg, 1967.
Soccer: A History of the Game, Its Players, and Its Strategy. NewYork, Crown, 1968; as Soccer: A Panorama, London, Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1969.
The Puffin Book of Football (for children). London, Penguin, 1970; revised edition, 1984.
Goalkeepers Are Different (for children). London, Hamish Hamilton, 1971; New York, Crown, 1972.
Brian Glanville's Book of World Football. London, Dragon, 1972.
The Sunday Times History of the World Cup. London, Times Newspapers, 1973; as History of the Soccer World Cup, New York, Macmillan, 1974; revised edition, as The History of the World Cup, London, Faber, 1980, 1984; revised edition, as The Story of the World Cup, London, Faber, 1997.
Soccer 76. London, Queen Anne Press, 1975.
Target Man (for children). London, Macdonald and Jane's, 1978.
The Puffin Book of Footballers. London, Penguin, 1978; revised edition, as Brian Glanville's Book of Footballers, 1982.
A Book of Soccer. New York, Oxford University Press, 1979.
Kevin Keegan (for children). London, Hamish Hamilton, 1981.
The Puffin Book of Tennis (for children). London, Penguin, 1981.
The Puffin Book of the World Cup (for children). London, Penguin, 1984.
The British Challenge (on the Los Angeles Olympics team), withKevin Whitney. London, Muller, 1984.
Footballers Don't Cry: Selected Writings. London, Virgin, 1999.
Football Memories. London, Virgin, 1999.
Editor, Footballer's Who's Who. London, Ettrick Press, 1951.
Editor, The Footballer's Companion. London, Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1962.
Editor, The Joy of Football. London, Hodder and Stoughton, 1986.
"Khaki and God the Father" in A Human Idiom by William Walsh, London, Chatto and Windus, 1965.
(1972) There has, I suppose, been some tendency to categorize my work under three headings; that which deals with Italy (Along the Arno, A Cry of Crickets, A Roman Marriage), that which deals with Jewish life (The Bankrupts, Diamond), and that which deals with professional football (The Rise of Gerry Logan and many of the short stories). I think I might accept the categorization of the two Jewish novels, but it scarcely places The Olympian, which uses an athlete as its figure, athletics as its theme, or rather as its metaphor; or A Second Home, which is narrated in the first person by a Jewish actress—and has been bracketed with A Roman Marriage, itself narrated by a young girl. Again, one can, and does, use similar material for widely different purposes.
A large disenchantment with the conventional novel and its possibilities has, I think, led one gradually away from it, to more experimental methods. Like many novelists of serious intentions, one lives uneasily from one novel to the elusive next, always questioning and trying to establish the validity of the form.
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Brian Glanville has written of his novels that "large disenchantment with the conventional novel … has, I think, led one gradually away from it, to more experimental methods." Each novel from this prolific writer has demonstrated that impatience; his need to break away from the manners of the traditional novel and from its central narrative line to a more fluid exposition of his thought has meant that the action frequently unfolds through his characterization instead of through the plot. In A Roman Marriage the story is told by the young English girl who has allowed herself to be trapped into a futile, claustrophobic marriage to a handsome young Italian; and through her outraged consciousness we experience, too, the suffocation of her husband's clinging, over-protective mother as the tentacles of family life cut the girl off from reality and draw her in to a nightmare. Similarly the tensions and cabalistic integrity of the family are strikingly unfolded in his Jewish novels such as The Bankrupts, Diamond, and A Second Home.
A further strength of the novels in this latter group is Glanville's sure ear for the cadences of everyday speech. The Jewish patois is never forced to gain its effect through comic music-hall over-indulgence but is allowed to expose itself through Glanville's feeling for the poetic possibilities of the spoken language. Although the unforced ease of his dialogue gives it a down-to-earth integrity, Glanville never allows it to become mundane or demeaning, and the simplicity of effect is a structural strength of all his writing.
As a commentator on professional sport Glanville has also written several novels about the stamina and passion that make up the modern athlete. In The Olympian a young miler, Ike Low, is torn between his passion for his wife Jill and the almost sexual release that he finds in winning races. Against their uneasy relationship stands the ambiguous figure of Sam Dee, Ike's trainer, who acts as both agent provocateur and chorus over their slowly disintegrating marriage. The narrative is broken up with journalese and taut, film-like dialogue as the drama of Ike's racing career draws to an unexpected climax. The Dying of the Light is perhaps Glanville's most profound and satisfying sporting novel to date. Although it is described as "a football novel," it is in effect a parable of contemporary life. Len Rawlings, a footballing hero in the post-war years, slumps gradually to the bottom of the ladder in a world where the aged and the losers are quickly forgotten. In desperation he turns to petty crime but finds salvation in the love of his daughter, so unlike him in character, but the only one to understand the terrifying loneliness of his personal predicament. As in all Glanville's novels, the moralizing is made manifest by its absence—Rawlings may have broken the law but it is the law of the jungle that is at fault, the "sporting" code that allows a talented man to be driven to despair through no fault of his own.
Contemporary obsessions of another kind are examined in Never Look Back, a novel that explores the world of rock and roll bands and the attitudes of its denizens: the stars, their managers and hangers-on, the agents and the crooks. The documentary detail is impressive but Glanville's mastery of language and skillful handling of dialogue convey subtle shifts of feeling, and they also constantly change his and the reader's focus on this kaleidoscopic world. Above all, Glanville shows that he is one of the few contemporary novelists capable of tackling and expressing the values, or lack of them, in our rapidly changing society.
After Never Look Back, Glanville produced two more novels in the 1980s, Kissing America and The Catacomb. Later years saw an increased production of nonfiction writing on sport, but no additional novels—which, given the outstanding ability shown in his earlier works, must certainly be counted a shame.
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