(1935- ) UK poet and novelist, born in Cornwall and occasionally a translator of Russian verse, two elements which echo through his own work. Before turning to prose DMT published several volumes of verse; his poetry has long made use of sf or fantasy themes, as in "The Head-Rape" (1968 New Worlds) and "Labyrinth" (1969 New Worlds). The Devil and the Floral Dance (1978) is a fantasy for young readers. The Flute-Player (1979), a parable of art and love in an imaginary Russia-like state, and Birthstone (1980; rev 1982), a fantasy of sexual roles set in Cornwall, featuring a protagonist whose personalities assume autonomous lives and begin to transform the world through their fantasies, show the influence of Sigmund Freud in their complex intertwinings of art, sexual love, and Death. The White Hotel (1981), very much the best of DMT's early prose, brings Freud onstage in the analysis (Freud's eventual monograph comprises part of the text, which is a composite in the manner that E L Doctorow calls "False Documents") of a hysterical woman whose visions of sexual obsession and mass violence eventually prove prophetic of the Final Solution; the book's final section is set in a disconcerting Afterlife.
The Russian Nights quintet – Ararat (1983), Swallow (1984), Sphinx (1986), Summit (1987) and Lying Together (1990) – is a set of "improvisational novels", according to the author (who first announced this as a quartet). They deal with a variety of subjects that dramatize themes familiar from DMT's earlier work: the art of translation, Soviet totalitarianism, early psychiatric documents and the mysteries of creation. Some of the tableaux – Swallow, perhaps the weakest, takes place at an international competition of poetic improvisations – are essentially fantastic. [JC/GF]
other works: Flying in to Love (1992); Pictures at an Exhibition (1993); Eating Pavlova (1994).
Donald Michael Thomas