Friday 24 March 2017
For Those in Crisis
Anita Brookner, secular in everything she said and did, views The Book of Job dispassionately as a literary narrative ('God's Great Wager', 1980 TLS essay, reproduced in Soundings). God is a character among many; she brackets Him with the impulsive gods of the classical world whose caprices will be both praised and feared in several of her novels to come. But what begins as sardonic bafflement, determined incomprehension, becomes by the end of Brookner's essay an acknowledgement of the story's mysterious and sophisticated power - 'a key text for those in crisis'. Brookner's sympathies, as ever, remain absolutely human. God she dismisses as wilful, childish, rather boringly unpredictable. It is Job who emerges not as the tale's victim but as its true hero, Job alone who retains that essential Brooknerian prize: his own personal dignity.