B.S. Johnson’s Liberatic Cityscape in Albert Angelo

Katarzyna Biela


For Bryan Stanley Johnson, a British post-war avant-garde author, space was a crucial aspect of a literary work. Inspired by architects and film makers, he was convinced that “form follows function” (“Introduction” to Aren’t You Rather Young to Be Writing Your Memoirs) and exercised the book as a material object, thus anticipating liberature – a literary genre defined in 1999 by Zenon Fajfer and Katarzyna Bazarnik, which encompasses works whose authors purposefully fuse the content with the form. The goal of this paper is to analyse the cityscape theme in Johnson’s second novel, Albert Angelo (1964), in which London is presented as space that accompanies the character in his everyday life and becomes a witness of the formation of his identity. The protagonist is an architect by profession, so special attention is paid to his visual sensitivity and the way the cityscape is reflected in his memories. Furthermore, Johnson’s formal exploitation of the book as an object and its correspondence to the content is analysed with reference to the metaphor of “[t]he book as an architectural structure” discussed by Bazarnik in Liberature. A Book-bound Genre.


B.S. Johnson, Albert Angelo, cityscape, liberature

Full Text:



Bazarnik, Katarzyna. 2016. Liberature. A Book-bound Genre. Kraków: Jagiellonian University Press.

Burrow, Colin. 2013. “Fetch the Scissors.” London Review of Books 35 (7): np. https://www.lrb.co.uk/v35/n07/colin-burrow/fetch-the-scissors.

Fajfer, Zenon. 2010. Liberature or Total Literature. Collected Essays 1999-2009. ed. and transl. Katarzyna Bazarnik. Kraków: Korporacja Ha!art.

Fajfer, Zenon. 2010. “A Brief History of Liberature (with Katarzyna Bazarnik).” Liberature or Total Literature. Collected Essays 1999-2009. ed. and transl. Katarzyna Bazarnik. Kraków: Korporacja Ha!art.

Fajfer, Zenon. 2010. “(N)on Description of Liberature.” Liberature or Total Literature. Collected Essays 1999-2009. ed. and transl. Katarzyna Bazarnik. Kraków: Korporacja Ha!art.

Fajfer, Zenon. 2015. Widok z głębokiej wieży. Szczecin: Wydawnictwo Forma: Fundacja Literatury imienia Henryka Berezy.

Gibbons, Alison. 2012. Multimodality, Cognition, and Experimental Literature. New York, London: Routledge.

Higden, David Leon. 2014. “B. S. Johnson’s Albert Angelo as a Postmodern Counterbook.” BSJ: The B.S. Johnson Journal. ed. J. Darlington, M. Hooper, M. Seddon, P. Tew and K. Zouaoui: 5-45. https://books.google.pl/books?id=pThPBwAAQBAJ&dq=b+s+johnson+love&hl=pl&source=gbs_navlinks_s.

Johnson, Bryan Stanley. 2004. Albert Angelo. B. S. Johnson Omnibus: Albert Angelo; Trawl; House Mother Normal. London: Picador.

Johnson, Bryan Stanley. 1973. “Introduction.” Aren’t You Rather Young to Be Writing Your Memoirs? London: Hutchinson.

Jordan, Julia. 2010. “’Let’s Celebrate the Accidental’: B. S. Johnson, the Aleatory and the Radical Generation.” Chance and the Modern British Novel: From Henry Green to Iris Murdoch. London: Continuum.

Maziarczyk, Grzegorz. 2013. The Novel as Book. Lublin: Wydawnictwo KUL.

Nowakowski, Radosław. 2003. Ulica Sienkiewicza w Kielcach = Sienkiewicza street in Kielce = Sienkiewicza strato en Kielce. Bodzentyn: Liberatorium.

Od Joyce’a do liberatury: szkice o architekturze słowa. 2002. ed. Katarzyna Bazarnik. Kraków: Universitas.

Phillips, Lawrence. 2006. London Narratives: Post-War Fiction and the City. London, New York: Continuum.

Ryle, Martin. 2014. “‘Educated and intelligent, if down-at-heel’: John Wain’s Hurry On Down and B.S. Johnson’s Albert Angelo.” B. S. Johnson and Post-War Literature: Possibilities of the Avant-Garde. ed. Martin Ryle and Julia Jordan. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Stamirowska, Krystyna. 2006. B. S. Johnson's Novels: a Paradigm of Truth. Kraków: Towarzystwo Autorów i Wydawców Prac Naukowych Universitas.

Tew, Philip. 2002. “B. S. Johnson.” Review Of Contemporary Fiction 22 (1): 7-52. MLA International Bibliography.

White, Glyn. 2005. Reading the Graphic Surface: the Presence of the Book in Prose Fiction. Manchester, New York: Manchester University Press.

Wimbush, Andy. 2013. “B. S. Johnson: ‘Albert Angelo’ – 1964.” londonfictions.com. Accessed June 13, 2019. https://www.londonfictions.com/bs-johnson-albert-angelo.html.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17951/nh.2020.5.99-110
Data publikacji: 2020-09-04 12:41:33
Data złożenia artykułu: 2020-01-23 15:32:16


Total abstract view - 206
Downloads (from 2020-06-17) - PDF - 0



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2020 Katarzyna Biela

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.