English Research Seminar – 10 December

On the problem of writing a masterpiece: Cyril Connolly and the new Enemies of Promise

Ian Marchant Birmingham City University)

Wednesday 10 December, 2 – 3pm, Baker 603 (City North Campus)

Since the publication in 1938 of ‘Enemies of Promise’, the English author, editor and reviewer Cyril Connolly has haunted writers with his famous aphorism: ‘There is no more sombre enemy of art than the pram in the hall.’

Enemies of Promise is not a ‘how to write’ book; it is a book about what stops writers from producing a book which will last more than 10 years. Along with children, Connolly lists sex, drink, conversation, day-dreaming, politics and writing for quick cash.

In this paper, Ian Marchant will update the list, and suggest that so far from offering solutions, Connolly has himself become part of the problem.