Mullan, John 1958–
Mullan, John 1958–
Office— Department of English, University College London, Gower St., London WC1E 6BT, England. E-mail— [email protected]
University College London, London, England, graduate tutor and professor of English. Host of London Guardian Book Club.
Sentiment and Sociability: The Language of Feeling in the Eighteenth Century, Clarendon Press (Oxford, England), 1988.
(Editor)Lives of the Great Romantics by Their Contemporaries, three volumes, Pickering & Chatto (Brookfield, VT), 1996.
(Editor and author of introduction) Daniel Defoe,Roxana, the Fortunate Mistress, Or, a History of the Life and Vast Variety of Fortunes of Mademoiselle De Beleau: Afterwards Called the Countess De Wintselsheim in Germany: Being the Person Known by the Name of the Lady Roxana in the Time of Charles II, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1996.
(Editor)Lives of the Great Romantics II by Their Contemporaries, three volumes, Pickering & Chatto (Brookfield, VT), 1997.
(Consulting editor)Lives of Victorian Literary Figures, three volumes, Pickering & Chatto (Brookfield, VT), 2003.
How Novels Work, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2006.
John Mullan, a specialist in eighteenth-century English literature, has edited the series Lives of the Great Romantics by Their Contemporaries. Each volume, focusing on a particular writer, includes contemporary comments and reminiscences about that writer that shed light on his work and life. Reviewing the volume on Shelley,Times Literary Supplement contributor John Haydn Baker observed that Mullan "has performed a signal service to students of Shelley by assembling in one volume generous extracts in facsimile from the many nineteenth-century attempts to fix the poet—or a version of him—in the public imagination." Noting that many of Shelley's contemporaries had hidden agendas in writing about the poet, Haydn Baker emphasized that the "real value of the book" is Mullen's preface to each excerpt, which reveal how writers "distorted Shelley to serve their own purposes." Commenting on the series as a whole, Greg Crossan wrote in Notes and Queries that its selections are generous and wide-ranging, and that, while much material caters to gossipy tastes, the series also addresses such major themes as "Shelley's idealism and despondency, Byron's chiaroscuro temperament … and Wordsworth's egotistical sublime."
With Christopher Reid, Mullan edited Eighteenth-Century Popular Culture: A Selection, a volume that Times Literary Supplement contributor Jenny Uglow praised as a "fascinating selection of extracts." The critic admired the book's treatment of a complex subject, noting that the editors are right to insist "that it is virtually impossible to bring this culture to ‘light’ as a definable social reality, and especially dangerous to view it as a single entity." Uglow noted that a particularly interesting theme in the book is "the way that the ‘popular’ becomes acceptable when distanced in time," adding that the book's selection of expected and unexpected materials proves especially fascinating.
Mullan's How Novels Work, intended for a general readership, explains basic critical approaches to the novel that, as Beth Lynch explained in the Times Literary Supplement, "are normally considered the preserve of academia." In Lynch's view, Mullan's attempt to bridge the divide between popular and academic ways of reading fiction "appears to reinforce a deep dichotomy." At the same time, however, the critic observed that "academe, John Mullan reminds us, does not have a monopoly on right, or rightly theorized reading" while nonspecialist readers can and should "benefit from perspectives and vocabularies which might deepen their appreciation of literary texts."
As host of the Guardian 's online book club, Mullan writes weekly columns on one novel each month. In the first three columns Mullan discusses the book in question; in the fourth column readers are invited to share their responses.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Anq, July, 1990, Susan K. Ahern, review of Sentiment and Sociability: The Language of Feeling in the Eighteenth Century, p. 140.
New York Review of Books, May 10, 2007, Hermione Lee, "Storms over the Novel," p. 29.
Notes and Queries, September, 1997, Greg Crossan, review of the first volume of Lives of the Great Romantics by Their Contemporaries, p. 414.
Reference & Research Book News, December, 1996, review of Lives of the Great Romantics by Their Contemporaries, p. 63; February, 1998, review of Lives of the Great Romantics II by Their Contemporaries, p. 141.
Studies in the Novel, summer, 1989, Kevin L. Cope, review of Sentiment and Sociability.
Times Literary Supplement, September 30, 1988, Terry Castle, review of Sentiment and Sociability, p. 1064; April 4, 1997, Simon Jarvis, review of the second volume of Lives of the Great Romantics by Their Contemporaries, p. 20; August 22, 1997, review of the first volume of Lives of the Great Romantics by Their Contemporaries, p. 25; August 22, 1997, John Haydn Baker, review of the first volume of Lives of the Great Romantics by Their Contemporaries, p. 25; May 4, 2001, Jenny Uglow, review of Eighteenth-Century Popular Culture: A Selection, p. 31.
Guardian Book Club,http://books.guardian.co.uk/ (October 24, 2007).
University College, London Department of English Web site,http://www.ucl.ac.uk/ (October 24, 2007), John Mullan faculty profile.