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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.’
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