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Beard, Richard. DAMASCUS - Flamingo 1998

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Damascus by Richard Beard. 1998 - Flamingo. For sale is a first edition, first printing. fine used hardback book in a fine dust jacket.

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Beard, Richard.  DAMASCUS  -  Flamingo 1998

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For sale is a fine hardback copy of the novel, Damascus by Richard Beard, published in 1998 by Flamingo.

Edition Details

Title Damascus
Author Richard Beard
Publisher Flamingo
Edition first edition, first printing
Copyright Year 1998
ISBN 0002254069
Cover Price 12.99
No. Pages 310
Dimensions 20 cm x 14 cm
Weight (kg) 0.44

The book is a first edition, first printing as evidenced by a full numberline on the copyright page.

The book has blue boards and silver lettering. The boards have no knocks or signs of wear. Internally there are no marks or inscriptions. The pages are clean and white, have no tears or creases, and the binding is tight and square.

The fine dust jacket is complete showing the original cover price of £12.99.

Overall a fine copy of a novel by a popular author.

The book is not an ex library book, it has no remainder marks or publisher's stamps.

Further Information

About the Author


Author Picture

Richard Beard

After studying at Cambridge, Richard Beard worked in Hong Kong and at the Dragon School in Oxford, as a games teacher. After a spell as private secretary to Mathilda, Duchess of Argyll, Beard moved to Paris where he worked at the National Library while continuing his studies with the Open University. In 1994, he enrolled on Malcolm Bradbury's Creative Writing MA at the University of East Anglia, followed by two years in Geneva practising fiction.

In 1998, Beard and his family moved to a house in the Mendip Hills owned by the Royal Society of Literature, made available to starving young writers. After six years in Somerset, most recently in Wells, he has recently taken up a post in Japan, at the University of Tokyo.

Synopsis of this title

Damascus, like X 20, is a constraint-based novel. True to OuLiPian optimism, the constraint generates the text.

In Damascus, every noun in the novel (with twelve exceptions) must come from the Times newspaper (London) of 1 November 1993. There are many excellent reasons for this.

It makes the book, by definition, a novel of its times. In Damascus there can be no noun, or basic linguistic building-block, which was not current and authentic to the day and time the novel describes.

True to experience, Hazel Burns and Spencer Kelly have to take life as they find it, meaning in this case the restricted possibilities offered by the nouns in one specific newspaper. All they can then do (all any of us can do) is construct a life by re-arranging the arbitrary ingredients we encounter.

The events that background their lives, at every age, are always taken from the one source newspaper. This also allows an exploration of how memories can be affected by the day on which we remember them. I also like this constraint because it seems democratic, and somehow universal.  Anyone can take the same idea, even the same newspaper, but come up with a completely different story.

As for the exact date, 1 November 1993, this was the day on which the Maastricht treaty on European Union came into effect. From this date, all Britons officially became citizens of Europe.

The events described in the newspaper of 1 November are actually what happened the day before. I therefore had the idea that a book sourced entirely from these events could somehow qualify as the last British novel.

 Finally, it’s worth saying that true to Perec’s vision of the OuLiPo, the originating constraints should, as far as possible, remain concealed. The novel should therefore read in an entirely conventional way.

Reviews of this title


'Richard Beard's second novel is something of an event, given the widespread plaudits for his first. In that book, X 20, he arranged an ingenious and unconventional structure around tobacco smoking. In his new novel Beard uses similar techniques, but this time in a romance.. Beard is a talented writer, crafting many scenes with luminous precision.' Peter Carty, Time Out

'Damascus recounts a day in the life of young lovers Spencer and Hazel, 1 November 1993. It's the day they finally meet again after years communicating only by phone. It's also the day that they appear, at various points throughout the book, to be aged 10, 13, 18 or 21 or indeed, in the opening chapter, zero. It may spoil the novel to give away its ending&.. ' Jonathan Romney, Guardian

'The climactic showdown is not only an apt marriage of the novel's form and content.. but also gently comic, the characteristic tone of this undertaking. Ludic in a peculiarly British manner.. an assured achievement.'; Stephen Knight, TLS

'Lovely, funny, touching, and exciting.' Harry Mathews, author of The Journalist

'A book with a real difference.' Irish News

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