Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Painterly

Significantly, the Colonel had begun to make himself scarce: I could picture him tiptoeing like a marauder from the scene.
A Friend from England, ch. 7
In the half hour or so that I spent outside I seemed to see Oscar rising continually from the bed, his face grey, his arm flung out in warning, or in remonstrance. 
Ibid., ch. 9
My last sight of him was of an untidy figure stumping off in the direction of Marble Arch. I saw his back, bent, silhouetted against the glow of a rapidly sinking sun.
Ibid., ch. 11

Brookner often presents us with such moments. The Colonel, marauding, and Oscar, his arm flung out, hail from Mannerist scenes, while that untidy figure stumping towards Marble Arch would seem perhaps to belong in a canvas by Walter Sickert.

***

Would Brookner rather have been a painter than a novelist? We know the answer to that question because John Haffenden asked it in his mid-80s interview with the writer:
Yes, I think you love the world more as a painter. Painters have a healthy appetite for life.

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