ABSTRACT

Had the Cambridge undergraduates Christopher Isherwood and Edward Upward actually completed their projected cycle of tales about the imaginary village of Mortmere, they might have figured among the precursors of the postmodernist fantastic. As it is, all that exists of their project is Up ward’s story “The Railway Accident” (1928, published 1949) and Isherwood’s account, in Lions and Shadow (1941), of some of the other unwritten or uncompleted stories-which does, indeed, read like postmodernist reviews of nonexistent books by Borges or Nabokov or Lem. But Mortmere’s precocious postmodernism does not appear only in the fictional world which Isherwood and Upward imagined for their stories; it extends even to the physical book in which the stories were to be printed. This book, Isherwood reports, was to have been illustrated with oil paintings, brasses, and carvings. It was to incorporate fireworks displays, recorded music, even appropriate odors, and would contain gifts for friends and booby-traps for enemies.