Groundbreaking fiction
Jonathan Bayliss

Reviewers have compared Jonathan Bayliss's fiction — the tetralogy GLOUCESTERMAN — to the works of Sterne, Melville, Joyce, Broch, and Musil.

The four expansive, inventive, playful, thought-provoking novels explore Bayliss's wide-ranging interests including history, liturgy, tragedy, systems, nature, engineering, ships, railroads, geography, and politics — as well as the challenges of friendship, love, domestic life, responsibility, and work.

The tetralogy GLOUCESTERMAN is headed by Prologos (1999) and includes the trilogy Gloucesterbook (1992), Gloucestertide (1996), and Gloucestermas (2010). The novels may be read in any order.

Available in paper and electronic formats

Prologos by Jonathan Bayliss

Prologos is Jonathan Bayliss’s sparkling, complex, experimental, playful, serious, richly detailed literary masterpiece of the 20th century — whose protagonist, Michael Chapman, is the “author” or “controller” of the other three novels in Bayliss’s GLOUCESTERMAN tetralogy.

No one reader will sympathize with all the manias or crochets either of Chapman or of his friend Caleb Karcist. But a thoughtful reading will engage almost anyone’s mind with the novel’s intellectual departures from traditional narrative. Prologos generates anthropological, economic, technical, and literary ideas from a base of erotic and social realism.

"Prologos is among the most significant experiments in narrative form in the last fifty years of American fiction."

—Gary Grieve-Carlson

"The English novel has been restored in this fucking book by Bayliss."

—Charles Olson, 1966, commenting on an early version of Prologos

"…a learned, intellectual, and demanding work — although it is never obscure, opaque, or capricious. The author is not trying to puzzle us. He takes us, rather, on a highly controlled exploration … There's a vivacity, a profusion of intellect, style, detail, an exuberance and plenitude that recall Melville's or, at other moments, Whitman's."

—Stuart Miller

"Groundbreaking European fictions, such as Hermann Broch's The Sleepwalkers and Musil's The Man without Qualities, come to mind as comparisons … It returns the novel in English to its experimental roots, with the wit and outrageous inventiveness of Tristram Shandy. Jonathan Bayliss uses language in a way that makes our native tongue come alive for us as though we were experiencing it for the first time in all its freshness and hard-edge originality.

—Peter Anastas

"Gloucesterbook is a genuine achievement, a literary work of true originality. The real hero here is Place."

—Gerrit Lansing

Jonathan Bayliss (1926-2009), novelist and playwright, grew up during the Great Depression in Cambridge, Massachuetts, and Vermont. He began college at Harvard, leaving after his freshman year to enlist in the Navy during World War 2. After the War he graduated from the University of California at Berkeley.

Bayliss earned a livelihood in analysis, systems, and management, beginning in 1950 at a Berkeley bookstore. He was controller of Gorton's of Gloucester and had two stints as a manager for the City of Gloucester, Mass.

Gloucesterbook Gloucestertide Gloucestermas by Jonathan Bayliss

The three Gloucester novels follow the inner lives of a cluster of friends as they wrestle with their desires, their ideas, and their histories — in the Atlantic coast's city of "Dogtown" on "Cape Gloucester," the place that is the backbone of this sprawling, eclectic, unconventional, and stimulating fiction. The novels may be read in any order.

Reading from Prologos taped September 2, 2015
Watch the Video by Ferrini Productions
Sponsored by the Gloucester Writers Center

Jonathan Bayliss

Gilgamesh Plays

These dramatic works, The Tower of Gilgamesh and The Acts of Gilgamesh, take place in Sumer (now southern Iraq), where it is said that civilization began: the first writing, numbering, and accounting systems and the first literature. Loosely based on the Gilgamesh legend, together the plays form a comedic tragedy exploring — with humor, imagination, and spirited language — ideas about free will, love, creativity, friendship, and religion.

Available in paper, cloth, and electronic formats


Passages in a Turblent Life
 Lois Henderson Bayliss


This intimate record — written by a gifted story-teller in spurts from 1931 to 1974 — provides glimpses into pre-World War I Cambridge and Rockport, Mass., the Great Depression, a Paraguayan commune, and Boston rooming houses and slums, while conveying the writer’s day-to-day thoughts about love, poverty, child raising, joy, loneliness, and God.

Available in paper and electronic formats March 21, 2018


Jonathan Bayliss

A collection of political essays and letters addressing crucial questions in American politics, including why political parties matter, why citizens should register and vote as Democrats, and what Democrats stand for.

Available in paper and electronic formats