Wednesday 26 September 2018

Grey and without Interest

Brookner's first novel, A Start in Life, was nearly turned down by the publisher Jonathan Cape, who received from a reader a very negative report. Her characters were apparently 'grey' and 'without interest'. Fortunately Liz Calder worked at the house and took a look at the manuscript. She read the novel's now-famous opening sentence, 'Dr Weiss, at forty, knew that her life had been ruined by literature', and realised she was in the presence of greatness. Calder and Cape went on to publish many of Brookner's novels.

An intriguing anecdote, which I found by chance. I was browsing the Brookner signed novels on the Internet bookstore sites, and came across several editions with a note by Calder in which she described her association with the author. I've no idea why Calder wrote the note, but we can be grateful that she did.

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