by Jonathan Bayliss

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

The four expansive, inventive, good-humored, 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.

The books are available through this website and from Amazon. Kindle versions for the three Gloucester titles are now available at Amazon.


Prologos by Jonathan Bayliss

The foreground of Prologos is California's Bay Area about a decade after the end of World War 2; its narrative background is transcontinental and transPacific. The protagonist, Michael Chapman, is torn three ways -- by domestic love, by the practical matters of his livelihood, and by the internal conflicts of intellectual life. The ingenious format  of the 1083-page novel allows the reader to proceed sequentially or according to theme.

"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 the manuscript

Jonathan Bayliss 1965
Bayliss in 1965
Jonathan Bayliss 1977


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. While writing his novels and Gilgamesh plays, Bayliss earned a livelihood in sales analysis 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, Massachusetts.

Gloucesterbook Gloucestertide Gloucestermas by Jonathan Bayliss

The three Gloucester novels - in which the East Coast fishing port is called "Dogtown" - are the creation of the West Coast "Controller," Michael Chapman of Prologos. Though Gloucesterbook begins in 1960 and Gloucestermas ends in the 1980s, and the cluster of friends of main characters Rafe Opsimath and Caleb Karcist changes, the novels may be read in any order. Interspersed are Bayliss's Gilgamesh plays (The Tower of Gilgamesh in Gloucestertide; The Acts of Gilgamesh in Gloucestermas).

.... 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

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

"James Joyce gave us the living, breathing Dublin through the prism of myth; Jonathan Bayliss’s “counterfactual” Gloucester is no less vital, and his understanding of local and national political life is equally profound."


"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 more