Sunday 6 November 2016

Becoming a Brooknerian

Perhaps I was not always a Brooknerian. But I became one early - too early. I was seventeen, and I happened on a copy of Hotel du Lac in my local library. I had heard of the author, and knew her to be acclaimed, but I knew nothing more. I took the book home and read it quickly, absorbed by the atmosphere of the hotel, the dense beauty of the prose, the social comedy.

I was later to visit the real Hotel du Lac, in Vevey. The becalmed resort, the anaesthetic lake, high and near, were as depicted. I had tea in the hotel garden. That was in 1993. I visited again a couple of years ago, and the hotel had become slightly too corporate.

(Visiting Brooknerian locales is part of being a Brooknerian, as later posts will show. I once spent an expensive holiday in Baden-Baden on the strength of a couple of lines in The Next Big Thing.)

Did I become a Brooknerian at seventeen, in that little library, which smelt as I remember of furniture polish and dust? Or had I always been destined? I don't know, but from then on I was enamoured. At some level everything I do, think, read, believe links to my Brooknerianism. Great writers, as Anita Brookner herself said, are saints for the godless.

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