Sunday, 17 April 2011

Amis: Miserable Wretch

One may well wonder who Martin Amis is. I am told the man is a writer. He shan't have heard of me, so that "levels the balance".

Seemingly Amis has written a few "best-sellers"; well, I'll avoid them like the bubonic plague, having read about his views on the Royal Family. He doesn't even want to be English.

Amis singles out and insults senior Royalty, alluding to the Prince of Wales's laugh; the Duke of Edinburgh's apparent ignorance as to Amis's occupation (and I don't blame Prince Philip for that); and his perception that the Queen didn't listen to him on the odd occasion that HM encountered him.

Amis has already stated that he would refuse to accept an Honour (no need to worry now, Martin, you have already disqualified yourself).

In a particularly direct attack on the upper classes, Amis says: "As for the British aristocracy, its pathetic. All that snobbery is ridiculous today."

That statement has some irony, given that he also opines that "Celebrity is the new religion [i.e. for the working classes]. And you want it to come to you just like that, with no effort, without having any merit". Curiously enough, I agree with him on that one point.


Anonymous said...

"As for the British aristocracy, its pathetic. All that snobbery is ridiculous today."

How very well put.

Timothy Belmont said...

It seems to me that Amis and his ilk have an ugly chip on their shoulders.

And how, ANON, would you define snobbery?

Anonymous said...

"the trait of condescending to those of lower social status" is a dictionary definition.

I would lean more towards interpreting it as being pretentious purely based on your family tree. Just because someone is born into a family it doesn't mean they're smarter/better/to be exalted.

Timothy Belmont said...

Quite honestly, I can't say I've met many who fall into that category. I've encountered plenty of crude, ignorant upstarts with no manners etc.

If that's a definition of snobbery, it is an ignoble attitude to adopt; though, as I say, if one is reasonably well brought up, with decent standards and integrity, one ought not fall into that definition.

Sandy said...

I thought Prince Philip's response as to Amis's profession was a D. of Ed. classic.
Nasty self-important little man. (Amis, I hasten to add!)

Mark Rivers said...

off with his head!

Sharon Owens said...

Hi Tim,

Amis doesn't seem to like women either - I've read one of his books - it was pretentious, tedious, dull and nasty.

Best wishes,

Timothy Belmont said...

Hi Sharon,

To be honest, I don't know a thing about him - I must be one of his Philistines!

John Self said...

I read this piece last week and thought it extraordinary - the headline really doesn't reflect the content (something we have discussed before with the online news media, who sensationalise their 'stories' in their desperation for clicks).

Amis doesn't in fact "attack" the Royal Family at all, except in one comment (notably not given in direct quotation, so did he say it at all?) where he apparently calls them philistines. Elsewhere, he is sympathetic to William and Harry: "in the era of media supremacy ... the lives of these children becomes quite unbearable." And who could argue with that? He also calls Charles "charming" while describing his "extraordinary laugh" (is it insulting to liken it to a pig's snore? Surely just the touch of a novelist's vivid descriptive powers?). And his comments on the Queen are purely descriptive of his experience of meeting her, with no judgement made.

Having said all that, I think Amis, who is a very talented writer, is past his best. (He hasn't, incidentally, written any "best-sellers;" his are the sort of books which tend to get critical acclaim and enjoy healthy but not chartbusting sales.) I have read most of his books and enjoyed many of them immensely. He is a terrific stylist and a very funny prose writer (possibly his journalism is better than his fiction). I couldn't finish his last novel, and the forthcoming one, which is touched on in this article, sounds awful.

I have to say that the comments below the piece are disturbing. One commentator calls Kate Middleton "middle-class filth", while another attacks Amis for getting the name of Salman Rushdie's book wrong - when in fact it was the journalist who got it wrong. Do people really read that article without checking which pieces are directly quotes by Amis and which are attributed to him by the reporter? I fear that the Telegraph has gone downhill since the Barclay brothers took it over.