Closing Times

Dan Davin
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ISBN 9780571268986 Format Paperback
Published 15/04/2010 Length 212 pages

About Book

Dan Davin was a novelist and publisher with an attractive bohemian streak. Closing Times is his literary memoirs. In it he provides recollections of seven of his friends, all writers: Julian Maclaren-Ross, W. R. Rodgers, Louis MacNeice, Enid Starkie, Joyce Cary, Dylan Thomas and the Yiddish poet Itzik Manger. The worlds these writers inhabited were as diverse as the settings of these memoirs: Fitzrovia just after the war, Oxford, the BBC, a P. E. N. congress in Edinburgh, the Lower East Side in New York, and a Dublin pub.

In his introduction he writes, 'I have been governed intuitively more than consciously, by a principle of inclusion that takes as primary the personal relationship between my subject and me, and by my own conception of his character, what interested me about him, what brought us together, what I liked - or even loved - in him, what I thought to be the flaws . . .' The result, in effect, is an informal autobiography, a vivid and telling portrait of a literary man in his time, as well as a moving lament for 'the makers whom death has unmade'.

In his Oxford DNB account of Dan Davin's life, Jon Stallworthy as well as pointing out this memoir is modelled on Johnson's The Lives of the English Poets writes persuasively,' The most memorable presence, however, in this gallery of ebullient, funny, tender portraits is that of the artist himself, cigarette-holder in hand, eyes half closed against the smoke.'

  • About Dan Davin

    Dan Davin (1913-1990) was a scholar, soldier, writer and publisher. Born in New Zealand, he came to England as a Rhodes Scholar. In the Second World War he fought with the New Zealand expeditionary force, writing as a result the highly regarded Crete volume in the Official History of New Zealand in the Second World War.

    Much of his post-war life was devoted to the Oxford University Press where he ended up as deputy secretary and academic publisher. It has been nicely said of him that he had 'an uncommon gift for enjoying his own aversions - parties, dining out, travel, committees, formal social occasions, other people's problems. No man who longed so much for the quiet of his own fireside has been so often out.'

    In this busy life he still managed to write seven novels as well as collections of short stories. The best of his Second World War stories were gathered in The Salamander and The Fire, which along with Closing Times, is being reissued in Faber Finds.

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