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Adair, Gilbert

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author, Critic.

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(1944-2011) Scottish literary theorist, critic, translator and author, in France 1968-1980, subsequently in the UK. His fiction has some fantasy interest, including his two Sequels by Other Hands for Young Adult readers, Alice Through the Needle's Eye (1984) and Peter Pan and the Only Children (1987), respectively sequelling Lewis Carroll and James Barrie (1830-1937); his adult novels – though they engage their protagonists in extreme situations, and explore thin partitions between Cinema and verifiable reality – are not fantastic, though The Death of the Author (1992) teasingly Equipoises between murder mystery and literary theory. In A Closed Book (1999), a facially mutilated author and his insinuating amanuensis are effectively transformed into each other's Doppelganger. The Evadne Mount trilogy of spoofish detective novels, beginning with The Act of Roger Murgatroyd (2006), echoes Agatha Christie's tropes and titles. The third book And Then There Was No One (2009) uses the postmodern ploy of featuring Adair himself alongside his fictional detective Evadne Mount; there is an inset Sherlock Holmes pastiche, "The Giant Rat of Sumatra".

Adair's famous translation of Georges Perec's La Disparition (1969) as A Void (1994), which like the original eschews use of the letter "e", introduces into English a powerful exercise in Oulipo, though not literally fantastic. Adair himself is of sf interest almost exclusively for nonfiction analyses of contemporary culture on the cusp of transformation, including Myths and Memories: A Dazzling Dissection of British Life and Culture (1986), The Postmodernist Always Rings Twice: Reflections on Culture in the 90s (1992) and Surfing the Zeitgeist (coll 1997) (see Postmodernism and SF). [JC/DRL]

Gilbert Adair

born Edinburgh, Scotland: 29 December 1944

died London: 8 December 2011

works (selected)


Evadne Mount

individual titles


works as translator

  • Georges Perec. La Disparition (Paris: Editions Denoël, 1969) [binding unknown/]
    • Georges Perec. A Void (London: Harvill, 1994) [trans by Adair of the above: hb/Mark Moran]

works as editor

about the author


previous versions of this entry

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