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Gabriel Josipovici

Gabriel Josipovici (1958) is a well-known novelist, short story writer, playwright and critic.

Having graduated from the Hall with a First, he taught at the University of Sussex from 1963 until 1998, where he is now Research Professor in the Graduate School of Humanities.

He published his first novel, The Inventory (Michael Joseph) in 1968, followed by Words, The Present, and a volume of stories and short plays, Mobius the Stripper (Gollancz). His novels Contre-Jour, In a Hotel Garden, Moo Pak, Goldberg: Variations, Everything Passes, Making Mistakes and Infinity have been published by Carcanet. His acclaimed critical book, The World and the Book (MacMillan, 1971) was followed by a book on the narrative strategies of the Bible, The Book of God (Yale, 1987), and one on Touch (Yale, 1996). He has also published collections of essays on literary and cultural topics and two books based on the Northcliffe and the Weidenfeld lectures respectively: Writing and the Body (1981) and On Trust.

In 2001 he published a biographical memoir of his mother, the translator and poet Sacha Rabinovitch, and in 2007 he gave the Coffin Lecture on Literature at the University of London, entitled Whatever happened to Modernism?, which was subsequently expanded into a book and published by Yale University Press.

Gabriel's plays have been performed throughout Britain and on radio in France and Germany, and his work has been translated into the major European languages and Arabic. He has a worldwide reputation as a speaker, reviewer, and literary pundit.  He has judged numerous high-profile prizes, and is well-known for his avant garde tastes.

His novel Hotel Andromeda was published in 2014.

A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the British Academy, Gabriel is an Honorary Fellow of both St Anne's and St Edmund Hall.

Gabriel Josipovici on creativity

"My greatest intellectual stimulus for my writing at Oxford came from Gordon Crosse, the music scholar in my year, who was already composing. Where I'd spent my gap year reading Proust, he'd spent his reading Finnegans Wake - it was so exciting to meet someone like him….I've always held out at Sussex against 'creative writing' programmes, asking whether Eliot, Kafka or Virginia Woolf would ever have wanted to go to them. But I'm all for encouraging writers, which is quite another thing."

Gabriel's talks at the Hall

Gabriel came to our Celebration of Writing at the Hall in February 2013, speaking on the panel 'Creative Writing in Education', chaired by Carol Atherton. He launched a spirited and eloquent attack on the proliferation of Creative Writing MAs in UK Universities, questioning the extent to which creativity can be taught. If you want to listen to his views -- which caused something of a stir that afternoon -- tune into our podcast here. You can also follow a continuation of that discussion on the Hall Writers' Forum, where you will find it in the archive.

In May 2013, Gabriel came to one of the Hall's Writing Workshops. He talked informally about four of his short stories to a small group of highly attentive students. The talk ranged widely, covering the practice and craft of writing; various forms of experimentation with temporality and voice; the influence of Kafka and Borges on Gabriel's style of narration; and his distance from Beckett and Joyce.  Hearing a great practitioner and theorist of fiction discuss his craft in such detail was an unforgettable experience.