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THE L: That would be when you began to write novels in the early 70s?
MARTIN AMIS: Yeah. No interviews, no photo-ops, no tours, no readings, no parties. No profiles, nothing.
THE L: The Pregnant Widow is chock-full of literary references. It's like a vast echo chamber for English literature. Was that a conscious decision of yours as a craftsman to create that density of literary reference?
MARTIN AMIS: Well, not really. I've since thought about it. That's the way it goes. You do it all on instinct and then a year later you think about it. And I think I did want particularly the Italy bit to have a kind of mythical density, and I am surprised by just how many allusions and references there are. I think I wanted to write about Italy as a sort of suspended world.
THE L:One character, Gloria Beautyman, has an intriguing theory about Elizabeth Bennet of Pride and Prejudice. Essentially that Elizabeth is very highly sexed, almost uncontrollably so. Is that a position you'd defend?
MARTIN AMIS: Well, I think that the quotes that [Gloria] supplies are very startling. And I don't think it's been pointed out. There's nothing like that in any of the other novels. When Mr. Bennet says, "I know with your lively talents you could be neither happy nor respectable in a loveless marriage," what does that mean? Not respectable? She'd look elsewhere. That scene where she comes in covered in mud—the petticoats covered in mud—that's not very Jane Austen.
THE L: So you think Elizabeth Bennet might have been a goer?
MARTIN AMIS: [Laughs] Yes, a complete goer.*
*You know, a goer.