over family affairs. Whether long—Fast or Heller emerge as successes in their own right will be easier to estimate two or three novels down the line. lnevitably. the son or daughter of a literary great must work doubly hard to establish his or her distinctive voice.
A case in point is prolific novelist and journalist Martin Amis whose output already threatens to surpass that of father Kingsley. And listher Freud. author of Ila/eons Kinky and a near-veteran of three novels is now almost in the position of being accepted and read on her own terms without mention of great—grandfather Sigmund. Quite what the father of modern psychology would have made of these upstart progeny following their famous ancestors into the writing game is a matter for playful speculation. A cod-Freudian reading of Mary Shelley‘s Frankenstein might interpret her mttrderous monster as the physical manifestation of the author‘s gttilt at her mother’s death in childbirth. (Shelley‘s beast of a novel certainly eclipsed mother Mary
Wollstonecraft Godwin’s feminist classic A l’inilieaiian aft/1e Rig/its of
But let's leave it to the experts. (‘linical psychologist Dr Sally Anderson believes there are a variety of motivating factors behind the phenomenon of children choosing to pttrstte their parents‘ profession. ‘It often depends on the nature of the relationship between the parent and the child.’ she says. 'If the relationship is one of conflict the child can enter into the satne field as the parent ottt of competitiveness. If it‘s a nttrtttring relationship the child might do the same for entirely positive reasons. It can also be determined by what the child is exposed to. The children of artists generally choose to continue in that field for the familiarity of the environment.‘
One prominent figure in late 20th (‘entury letters may indeed have been driven to print for all the wrong reasons. A youthful rebel who originally considered a career in hotels. Auberon Waugh was once described by father livelyn as 'clumsy and dishevelled. sly withottt
intellectttal. aesthetic or spiritual interest.’ If Waugh the younger assumed his writing career to prove a point to the disgruntled creator of Brides/lead Revisited. it worked. His first novel The lave/ave Saga (conceived at the tender age of eighteen) went on to sell shedloads. Subsequent books. journalism and satirical writings have placed him at the heart of the British literary establishment.
Like long—Fast. Waugh recognises in his autobiography Hill This [)0 that having a famous dad had its drawbacks in terms of his own career. ‘My inherited enemies.’ he wrote. ‘divided into those who hated anyone called Waugh' (among those innumerable literary folk who had suffered some real or imagined slight from livelyn Waugh as well as the great armies of militant lefties and modernists who made up the literary and artistic establishments in those days). Though writers such as Waugh. who achieve individual success. may wish to distance themselves from critical comparisons. their work often unwittingly betrays the influence of their forefathers (and mothers).
Monica Dickens claimed: "lo a child having a famous ancestor meant nothing in our egocentric lives'. Yet many of her popular mid- century novels reveal a penetrating observation and compassion to rival grandfather Charles. And Martin Amis~ assertion in The Rae/tel Papers that ‘nice things are nicer than nasty ones bttt nasty ones are funnier' could refer to any one of his father's avaricious characters.
A feature of lirica Jong‘s work. conspicuously absent from her daughter‘s novel. is its notorious erotic content. Indeed Normal (iirl is a sex free zone. But Molly Jong-l’ast maintains that her decision to shun sex scenes was less ottt of a desire to avoid further comparison than for simple reasons of attthenticity. ‘I interviewed so many heroin addicts for this book and I’d say “So. host your sex life?" and they’d stare at me and say “What? Wlio‘.’ Sex‘.’ What’s that'.""
Normal Girl is published on Thu 20 Apr. 2," in.“ 23:: THE “ST 19