The History Man by Malcolm Bradbury

By Malcolm Bradbury

Howard Kirk is the trendiest of radical tutors at a modern college. Timid Vice-Chancellors light earlier than his threats of disruption. Reactionary colleagues are overwhelmed underneath his cruel Marxist good judgment. lady are drawn through his promiscuity. A self-appointed innovative hero, Howard regularly comes out on most sensible.

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Of course,' says Howard, 'you take the food in. ' And so the Kirks get out, and go round to the back of the van, and unload what is there. They carry it, together, the bread, the cheese and the sausages, the glasses and the big red bottles in their cases, into the house, into the pine kitchen. They spread it on the table, an impressive array of commodities, ready and waiting for the party in the evening. 'I want you back by four, to help me with all this fun we're brewing,' says Barbara. 'Yes, I'll try,' says Howard.

Have a party. Go on a demo. Shoot a soldier. Make a bang. Bed a friend. ' says Barbara. 'Always a bright, radical solution. Revolt as therapy. But haven't we tried all that? ' Howard turns and looks at Barbara, inspecting this heresy. He says: 'There may be a fashion for failure and negation now. ' Howard takes the turn into the terrace; the bottles shake in the back of the van. He says: 'I don't understand your sourness, Barbara. ' Howard stops the van; he puts his hand on Barbara's thigh. He says: 'You just got switched off, kid.

In the chemists' shops in town, they have removed the sunglasses and the insect-bite lotions, for the summer visitors have left, and have stocked up on sleeping tablets and Librium, the staples of the year-round trade; there is direct rule in Ulster, and a gun-battle has taken place in the Falls Road. The new autumn colours are in the boutiques; there is now on the market a fresh intra-uterine device, reckoned to be ninety-nine per cent safe. Everywhere there are new developments, new indignities; the intelligent people survey the autumn world, and liberal and radical hackles rise, and fresh faces are about, and the sun shines fitfully, and the telephones ring.

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