Martin Amis: Dead Babies

(3284 words)

Martin Amis’s second novel, Dead Babies (1975), is an energetic mixture of English social comedy, savage satire, and the kind of fictional exploration of existential extremes associated with the British writer J. G. Ballard (1930-2009) and the American writer William Burroughs (1914-97). Despite its shocking title (briefly changed to Dark Secrets for the 1977 paperback edition), no infant corpses appear in its pages. The phrase “dead babies” has three meanings in the novel. It is, most often, a term some of the characters use to indicate supposedly outmoded ideas: “All that camp and unisex and crap […] dead babies now” (169); once it is employed to refer to eating something very unpleasant that will act as an …

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Tredell, Nicolas. "Dead Babies". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 24 March 2011
[, accessed 25 September 2016.]