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The Worm Hole Podcast Episode 23: Nicholas Royle (‘critic’) (Quilt; An English Guide To Birdwatching; Mother: A Memoir)

Please note that the first reading is set in a public toilet and discusses explicitly concepts around discomfort in this regard, ‘size’, and so forth.

Charlie and Nicholas Royle (Quilt; An English Guide To Birdwatching; Mother: A Memoir) discuss killing yourself – your avatar – off in your fiction, using ‘it is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife’, and sharing a name with another British writer who also writes fiction… that is also about birds…

Nicholas’ critical and essay books are as follows:
Hélène Cixous: Dreamer, Realist, Analyst, Writing (2020)
An Introduction to Literature, Criticism and Theory (5th edition, 2016, co-authored with Andrew Bennett)
This Thing Called Literature (2015, co-authored with Andrew Bennett)
Veering: A Theory of Literature (2011)
In Memory of Jacques Derrida (2009)
How to Read Shakespeare (2005, new edition 2014)
Jacques Derrida (2003)
The Uncanny (2003)
Deconstructions: A User’s Guide (2000) (as editor)
E.M. Forster (1999)
After Derrida (1995)
Elizabeth Bowen and the Dissolution of the Novel: Still Lives (1995, co-authored with Andrew Bennett)
Telepathy and Literature: Essays on the Reading Mind (1990)

The Guardian’s review of An English Guide to Birdwatching
My review of the same
The Financial Times’ review of the same
The Art of the Novel on the publisher’s website
Publisher’s page on Nicholas’ book on Hélène Cixous

Release details: recorded 8th September 2020; published 28th September 2020

You can contact the show at

Go back to the list of episodes

Show notes:

Question Index
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Question Index

01:05 You’re a professor of English – do you have an outright favourite area of study?
02:49 You’ve written a lot of books on literary criticism and theory, but what was it that got you wanting to start writing fiction?
04:42 Have you ever had someone ask what on earth your books are about?
06:27 What is behind the theme of death?
09:33 What’s it like to kill yourself off in your fiction?
13:41 You use wordplay throughout your books – what is it you like the most about it?
21:10 When did you first know that there was another writer with your name?
24:15 Quilt’s afterword is very much related to the content of An English Guide To Birdwatching – were the initial parts of An English Guide written closely in time with Quilt?
27:43 Why does modern day Stephen Osmer write for the London Literary Gazette, which ceased production in 1863?
36:38 Can you tell us about your mother in terms of your relationship with her?
40:52 How did you mother influence your interest in books and writing?
43:34 What’s next?
44:37 Do things like exploration or language, close reading, and so forth, have value in the wider world?

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Photograph used with permission from the author.


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