Alan Bates’ performance of a lifetime (and he’s had a few) deliciously embodies Simon Gray’s scathing insider’s perspective into the grim world of humanities academia (already that in 1971). Butley has much in common with Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano insofar as all the action takes place in one day, everything falls apart, and alcohol is part and parcel of the protagonist’s demise. Here is Alan Bates talking about the role along with two reviews: NYT and Roger Ebert. Here too is Bowie singing what could well have been part of the soundtrack, Chris O’Leary commenting: “The flailing scholar of the original recording at least had energy in his desperation; here, all is resigned, empty despair”. At least Butley was someone who once had a substantive interest, i. e. T. S. Elliot, unlike the array of “activisms” (that tend to attract the already embittered) and that crassly characterize much of what masquerades as “English” (i. e. with little or no canonical literature and philology). Butley/Bates was a favourite I shared with my mother as was The Go-Between and An Englishman Abroad. I’m glad that I never had the gumption to approach Bates when, on the way to my mother’s GP, we passed him on the pavement (we lived on the same street, about a five walk apart).