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Gabriel Josipovici


Gabriel Josipovici was born in Nice in 1940. When the war was over he and his mother made their way to Egypt, where her family was based, and it is there he did most of his schooling, at Victoria College, Cairo, before coming to England, in 1956, to finish his schooling at Cheltenham College. From 1958 to 1961 he was a student at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, graduating with a First, and then began a BLitt on Swift’s A Tale of a Tub. In 1963 he was appointed Assistant Lecturer in English in the School of European Studies in the newly established University of Sussex, where he remained throughout his academic career, retiring as Professor of English in 1998. This summer, he was elected to an Honorary Fellowship of the Hall in recognition of his distinguished career.

While at Oxford he had published fiction in student magazines, and in 1968 published his first novel, The Inventory (Michael Joseph), followed by WordsThe Present, and a volume of stories and short plays, Mobius the Stripper (all Gollancz). His teaching at Sussex and the need to understand where he was coming from as a writer led to the writing of a critical book, The World and the Book  (MacMillan, 1971), and, later, 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 a book based on the lectures he gave at University College London as Northcliffe Lecturer, Writing and the Body (1981) and at Oxford as Weidenfeld Professor of Comparative Literature, On Trust. The bulk of his work, however, has been in the fields of fiction and the theatre, both stage and radio, where his best known works have been Flow, performed by the Actor’s Company in Edinburgh and on tour in 1973, AG, the BBC entry for the Prix de Rome in 1977, and the novels Contre-JourIn a Hotel Garden, Moo PakGoldberg: VariationsEverything Passes and, most recently, Making Mistakes (all Carcanet). In 2001 he published a memoir of his mother, the translator Sacha Rabinovitch, which is also a kind of autobiography. His production continues unabated, with three new works due out this autumn, and he goes on reviewing regularly for the TLS and other journals.