Cards of Identity

Nigel Dennis
Date Published
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‘Formerly, he thinks to himself, an artist took real people and transformed them into painted ones: how much finer and more satisfying is the modern method of assuming that people are not real at all, only self-painted, and of proceeding to make them real by giving them new selves based on the best-available theories of human nature…’

In Nigel Dennis’s 1955 novel – instantly acclaimed as a satirical masterpiece – a long-empty country house is reopened by Captain Mallet, his wife, and his dashing son Beaufort. Their task is to prepare for the annual summer conference of ‘The Identity Club’: a group of psychologists firmly of the view that people can be instructed as to who they really are and, consequently, persuaded to do well-nigh anything.

‘I have read no novel published during the last fifteen years with greater pleasure and admiration.’ W.H. Auden, 1955
‘One of the funniest, most intelligent and far-reaching pieces of satire.’ Times


Nigel Dennis (1912-1989) was born in England and educated variously in Rhodesia, South African, Austria and Bavaria. He wrote too little but for all that there were three novels (and one that was disowned), four plays, a volume of poetry and three works of non-fiction. For twenty years he was the lead reviewer for the Sunday Telegraph. His study of…

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