Wednesday 23 November 2016

Brooknerian Brussels

I have been reading Villette, which puts me in mind of A Family Romance. Dolly, the aunt - squat, European - lives in Brussels at the start: Jane Manning remembers a discordant childhood visit to the rue de la Loi. She remembers the menacing arch of the Cinquantenaire, which seemed to mark the edge of the known universe. She remembers thinking there was not another child in the whole of the city.

I have stayed in Brussels many times, and one sees Brooknerians there, or their European versions. But I have never seen the Cinquantenaire.

I once gave A Family Romance to a girlfriend. It was an ill-judged gift. It is one of the intensest, most Brooknerian Brookners, depicting a clash of cultures between English Jane and European Dolly. (And as ever, whose side is Brookner on?)

This novel was, as I say, unappreciated by my girlfriend, who preferred John Grisham. But thereby perhaps I found out what I needed to know. She was not a Brooknerian.

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