Saturday 24 November 2018

A Private View: Chapter by Chapter: 2

My copy of the UK hardback
  • The claustral atmosphere intensifies. Once inside his block of flats, Bland feels he has 'definitively left the outside world'.
  • Bland 'cautiously' watches soap operas, seeking knowledge of other lives, suburban lives like those of his forebears. For more on Brookner and television, click on the label below.
  • Bland's porter is called Hipwood, which I always thought of as a made-up name - the sort you might find in Dickens. But it is a genuine name.
  • I'm rereading A Private View alongside a piece of more recent literary fiction, which is lots of fun but reads like a children's book. (The title and author shall remain unsaid.) Brookner absolutely is an author for grown-ups.
  • The closeness of Brookner's observation is remarkable. She misses nothing. She's fully one of those on whom nothing is lost. Take Bland's sudden access of tears at the end of the chapter.
  • Also to be remarked is the extreme fineness of the language. Bland and his neighbours' 'Lilliputian concerns'.
  • While we may bracket A Private View with The Next Big Thing and Strangers, both also novels about older men, George Bland isn't so much old as on the brink of old age. The first of Brookner's truly old sole protagonists is Mrs May in Visitors, a few years later. But with A Private View Brookner enters a new phase. Over the remaining decades of her writing career she would commit herself more and more to a topic many novelists avoid.

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