Wednesday 30 November 2016

The Dreams of Anita Brookner

Observer: Where do you think your ideas come from?
Anita Brookner: I wish I knew. I'd tap into them straight away. I think it's mostly dreams and memories, isn't it, as with all novelists?
Obs: Where will the next idea come from?
AB: I don't know, that's the point. I have no control. I'm a great believer in unconscious processes. They usually work.
Observer interview, 2001 (Link)

Dreams are potent if mysterious motors in the novels, especially the later fiction. The Next Big Thing, Leaving Home and 'At the Hairdresser's' all begin with dreams. Information is received, considered, and not always found to be of use. Visitors ends with a dream, but it is a vouchsafement earlier in the novel - of a field of folk - that stays in the memory, lambent, puzzling. Brookner invokes not so much Piers Plowman as a Forties and Fifties heaven, a lost England, old decent values, kindness... Martin Amis, though not a Brooknerian, somewhere tells us that the modern world is all very well and really quite bearable, until you remember what it was like when people were kind.

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