I have been fascinated by the Lost Man Booker Prize of 1970 since reading about it a few weeks ago on the Gentle Author's blog. The winner was announced yesterday as J.G. Farrell, whose work I'm ashamed to say I don't know, but when I had a look at the longlist I recognised so many of the authors' names I felt a sudden inclination to read - in a leisurely fashion - through the list myself.
Despite being an avid reader from about the time this list was published, my tastes did not at that stage extend much beyond the adventures of Candy and Peppermint (see above), so many if not most of the titles have passed me by. However, several of the authors later became great favourites - Mary Renault, H.E. Bates, Nina Bawden, Susan Hill, and recently, Ruth Rendell - that I felt a curious mixture of nostalgia and expectation when I read through the list of names, and a great desire to immerse myself in the literary culture of a time which seems to me synonymous with a great intellectual and social freedom, and yet still in touch with a golden age that I remember with misty affection.
In the spirit of my reading practises as a child, I have set myself the challenge of acquiring all these titles either from the public library or secondhand, even though many of them will probably be reissued in desirable and glamorous new editions. If there is one thing I remember about 1970, it was a much greater thriftiness and lack of waste - something I could certainly do with reviving...
The Lost Booker Prize of 1970 longlist:
Brian Aldiss, The Hand Reared Boy
HE Bates, A Little Of What You Fancy?
Nina Bawden, The Birds On The Trees
Melvyn Bragg, A Place In England
Christy Brown, Down All The Days
Len Deighton, Bomber
JG Farrell, Troubles
Elaine Feinstein, The Circle
Shirley Hazzard, The Bay Of Noon
Reginald Hill, A Clubbable Woman
Susan Hill, I'm The King Of The Castle
Francis King, A Domestic Animal
Margaret Laurence, The Fire Dwellers
David Lodge, Out Of The Shelter
Iris Murdoch, A Fairly Honourable Defeat
Shiva Naipaul, Fireflies
Patrick O'Brian, Master and Commander
Joe Orton, Head To Toe
Mary Renault, Fire From Heaven
Ruth Rendell, A Guilty Thing Surprised
Muriel Spark, The Driver's Seat
Patrick White, The Vivisector