Patrick McGuinness

  (Redirected from Patrick McGuinness (writer))

Patrick McGuinness (born 1968) is a British academic, critic, novelist, and poet. He is Professor of French and Comparative Literature at the University of Oxford, where he is Fellow and Tutor at St Anne's College.

Patrick McGuinness
Born1968 (age 51–52)
OccupationPoet, writer, academic, literary critic
ChildrenOsian McGuinness, Mari McGuinness


Born in Tunisia in 1968 to a Belgian French-speaking mother and an English father of Irish descent, he grew up in Belgium and also lived for periods in Venezuela, Iran, Romania and the UK. He currently lives in Oxford and in Wales, with his family.

McGuinness is a member of Plaid Cymru and stood as a candidate for the party in Wales in the 2019 European Parliament election.[1]


McGuinness's production is divided between academic literary criticism and poetry. His first novel, The Last Hundred Days (Seren, 2011) was centred on the end of the Ceaușescus' regime in Romania, and was nominated for the Man Booker Prize; a French version was published under the title Les Cent Derniers Jours.[2]

Literary criticism and academic workEdit

Patrick McGuinness teaches French and Comparative Literature at St Anne's College, Oxford. Among his academic publications there is a study of T. E. Hulme,[3] an English literary critic and poet who was influenced by Bergson and who, in turn, had a strong influence on English modernism. He has also translated Stéphane Mallarmé,[4] a major symbolist poet, and edited an anthology in French of symbolist and decadent poetry.[5]

He has edited the works of Marcel Schwob,[6] a French symbolist and short story writer, a friend of Oscar Wilde, and has written on the French writer Joris-Karl Huysmans.[7]

McGuinness has also edited two volumes of the Argentinian-Welsh poet and novelist Lynette Roberts, highly appreciated by T. S. Eliot and Robert Graves. According to McGuinness, Roberts is "one of the greatest female war poets" whose works "constitutes one of the most imaginative poetic responses to modern war and the home front in the English language." McGuinness writes about Lynette Roberts:

In her commitment to describing the life of women, she shares something with the great women modernists such as Mina Loy and Hilda Doolittle. Her poetry deserves to stand alongside the work of Pound and Bunting and Eliot, but perhaps the only Welsh writer to whom she can be compared is her fellow epic poet David Jones, whose work she knew and admired.

— Patrick McGuinness, New Welsh Writing. Rediscovering a modernist classic: Lynette Roberts[8]

Poetry and novelEdit

Daytime Drinking

First sip: gentle as a stream overreaching,
supple as a rope-bridge in the air;

The second, long as the creak of floorboards,
firm as a leg-iron clasp;

The third, sudden as the trap door beneath you,
the rudderless slide back to thirst.

From Jilted City (2010)[9]

McGuinness published his first poetry collection, The Canals of Mars, in 2004.[10] The book was translated into Italian (2006). In 2009 Alexandra Buchler and Eva Klimentova translated McGuinness' poems from The Canals of Mars and 19th Century Blues into Czech[11]

In 2007 he published a poetry pamphlet, 19th Century Blues, which was a winner in The Poetry Business Book & Pamphlet Competition 2006.[12]
His latest poetry collection is Jilted City,[13] whose leitmotif is memory, the jilted city, the cité trahie. A sequence in the book called Blue Guide is about the train journeys made by the young McGuinness on the historic railway line, la ligne 162, between Brussels and Luxembourg. This sequence has been translated into French by Gilles Ortlieb, in the review Théodore Balmoral. The whole collection has been translated into Italian by Giorgia Sensi and published with the title L'età della sedia vuota,[14] the title of one of the poems in the book, as a homage to the female experience and perspective of war, an empty chair on the beach as a symbol of a violent and irrational absence.[15]

Patrick McGuinness's first novel, The Last Hundred Days, was nominated for the Man Booker Prize in 2011. A thriller dealing with the collapse of communism, it is set in Ceaușescu's Romania, one of the most paranoid totalitarian regimes where spying on the citizens' private lives threatens all human relationships. The protagonist is an English student teaching in Bucharest,[16] where McGuinness himself lived in the years leading up to the revolution.



  • T. E. Hulme: Selected Writings (Carcanet Press/Routledge USA, 1998, 2003) ISBN 978-1-85754-722-1
  • New Poetries II, an anthology, edited by Michael Schmidt, Carcanet, 1999, pp. 70–76 ISBN 1-85754-349-1
  • Maurice Maeterlinck and the Making of Modern Theatre Oxford University Press, 1999 ISBN 0-19-815977-3
  • Symbolism, Decadence and the 'Fin de Siècle': French and European Perspectives (editor) University of Exeter Press, 2000 ISBN 978-0-85989-646-7
  • Anthologie de la Poésie Symboliste et Décadente (editor) Les Belles Lettres (France), 2001 ISBN 978-2-251-44365-2
  • J-K Huysmans' Against Nature (editor) Penguin, 2003 ISBN 978-0-14-044763-7
  • S.Mallarmé For Anatole's Tomb (translator) Carcanet, 2003, ISBN 978-1-85754-636-1
  • Marcel Schwob, Oeuvres (editor) Les Belles Lettres (France), 2003 ISBN 978-2-251-44220-4
  • The Canals of Mars Carcanet, 2004, ISBN 1-85754-772-1
  • Lynette Roberts: Collected Poems (editor) Carcanet, 2005, ISBN 1-85754-842-6
  • I canali di Marte edited and translated by Giorgia Sensi, Mobydick, 2006, ISBN 978-88-8178-335-9
  • 19th Century Blues Smith/Doorstop, 2007, ISBN 978-1-902382-88-3
  • Lynette Roberts: Diaries, Letters and Recollections, (editor) Carcanet, 2009, ISBN 978-1-85754-856-3
  • Jilted City Carcanet, 2010, ISBN 978-1-85754-968-3
  • L'età della sedia vuota, (original title Jilted City) ed. and transl. by Giorgia Sensi, Il Ponte del Sale, Rovigo, 2011, ISBN 88-89615-17-6
  • The Last Hundred Days, Seren, 2011, ISBN 978-1-85411-541-6
  • Other People's Countries: A Journey into Memory, Jonathan Cape, 2014 ISBN 978-0-224-09830-4
  • Poetry and Radical Politics in Fin de Siecle France: From Anarchism to Action Francaise, OUP, 2015
  • Throw me to the Wolves, Jonathan Cape, 2019, ISBN 978-1787331464

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Candidates". Plaid Cymru. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
  2. ^ Adrian Tahourdin (24 October 2013). "'The Last Hundred Days'". TLS. Retrieved 6 June 2019.
  3. ^ T E Hulme: Selected Writings, Carcanet, 1998
  4. ^ For Anatole's Tomb, Carcanet, 2003
  5. ^ Anthologie de la Poésie Symboliste et Décadente, Les Belles Lettres, France, 2001
  6. ^ Marcel Schwob, Œuvres, Les Belles Lettres, France, 2003
  7. ^ J K Huysmans, Against Nature, Penguin, 2003
  8. ^ Patrick McGuinness, "New Welsh Writing. Rediscovering a modernist classic: Lynette Roberts (1909–1995)"
  9. ^ The poem Daytime Drinking is also published in the Poems on the Vaporetto Archived 2 April 2012 at the Wayback Machine series in Venice, n. 54.
  10. ^ Wales Literature Exchange The Canals of Mars Archived 25 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Patrick McGuinness, Černá skřínka Periplum, 2009. ISBN 978-80-86624-51-8.
  12. ^ 19th Century Blues, Smith/Doorstop Books, 2007
  13. ^ Sean O'Brien, "Jilted City by Patrick McGuinness" in The Guardian, 29 May 2010
  14. ^ L'età della sedia vuota, cura e traduzione di Giorgia Sensi, edizioni Il ponte del sale, Rovigo, 2011
  15. ^ The Age of the Empty Chair, inspired by Monet's painting The Beach at Trouville
  16. ^ James Purdon, "The Last Hundred Days by Patrick McGuinness. Ceausescu's Bucharest falls again in a vivid semi-autobiographical novel" in The Guardian 14 August 2011 [1]
  17. ^ Ministere

External linksEdit