Saturday 21 November 2020

Wilde Brookner

As ever, Brookner scholar Dr Peta Mayer offers insightful comment (see Liverpool University Press blog here). Her reading (misreading?) of a photograph of a smoking Brookner in a Wildean pose is particularly tangy. I myself have spied in Brookner's images wily references and analogues. Were the photographers in on such jokes, one wonders?

The National Portrait Gallery holds another Lucy Anne Dickens (here), possibly taken at the same sitting as the Wilde shot. (The chair is the same, though not the sweater.)

The chair to the side, the body in profile, the sidelong glance... the lamp... What bells ring in the subversive Brooknerian mind?

Step forward, Madame Récamier...


  1. There is something reminiscent of Woolf's "A Room of One's Own" in both of these portraits you mentioned Lucy Anne Dickens. Also, a hint of serious-mindedness and inward calmness. Dr Peta Mayer is an erudite scholar on Brookner's writings. I am so glad to learn that she has published a literary criticism on AB and I wish her every success with the new publication.

    As for the portrait with a cigarette in hand, I recall a caricature version of this same portrait in D. J. Taylor's "What You Didn't Miss: A Book of Literary Parodies as Featured in Private Eye" (2012).

    1. Many thanks for comment. I was often amused by effortful Brookner cartoons that appeared now and again alongside reviews, usually the critical ones.


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