The challenge when writing to order is always to integrate the job on hand with the overall project you have. The more you can draw on the energy that’s going into your more personal writing, the better you feel doing the work and the better the job you do for whoever’s commissioned you. The writing has more purpose and conviction. And there’s the further advantage that, however disparate the subject matter, when you bring your occasional work together, it does ‘fit’, it makes sense.
So in this collection the title piece ‘The Fighter’ on D H Lawrence, introduces a theme that recurs through all the essays: in a world where all the old categories and hierarchies have are despised if not forgotten, almost the only way for us to relate with each other is through struggle and competition. Curiously, things I’d written about violence in football, about Mussolini, about Thomas Bernhard and Elfriede Jelinek, about Garibaldi and Zola and Beckett, all call to each other and complement each other.