David Lodge, authorial innocence

In Quite a Good Time to Be Born: A Memoir 1935-1975 David Lodge says of writing in The Devil, The World, and the Flesh about a woman with a “history of sexual delinquency” who dies from foregoing an abortion that might have saved her life:  “The medical and gynaecological details are left vague, since I did not know what they plausibly might be.”

He also writes of being hospitalized for a week for . . . an ingrown toenail:

“The regime entitled me to a daily bed bath. A comely, well-built nurse, who had an interest in literature and had taken rather a fancy to me, would draw the curtains round my bed, spread a waterproof sheet on the mattress, and sponge down the upper half of my body as we discussed classic novels she had read. She handed me the sponge and towel to attend to my private parts, tactfully averting her gaze and then, when I turned over, rubbed surgical spirit into my buttocks to prevent bed sores. I used to look forward to these sessions (especially the finales), which were more physically intimate than anything I had experienced with Mary [his long-time girlfriend and future wife]. I did not mention them to her.”

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