Sunday 18 December 2016

By Way of a Corrective

Why do readers keep on going back for more? Because the compensation for self-control, as Freud believed, is to think yourself more civilised ... Readers are flattered into thinking themselves rather clever and a bit superior: if they can't be happy and successful, they can at least be sensitive
Alison Light, review of A Family Romance, New Statesman (?), 9 July 1993

Saddest of all, though, is what this sort of writing tells us about our culture ... Brookner shows that we think something drained of life must be full of art. 
Rhoda Koenig, review of Altered States, unknown source 

This is the dead end of English literature, a cul-de-sac where mannered gestures stand in for creativity, and a careful aura of literariness replaces literature. 
Natasha Walter, review of Altered States, Guardian, 14 June 1996 

The only sign of an awareness of contemporary language in The Next Big Thing is an unconscious one: for all her fastidiousness she succumbs to the confusion about 'may' and 'might'. He knew that he may have lost his head. He saw that she may have known. If her prose is to be lifeless, let it at least be correct. 
Adam Mars-Jones, review of The Next Big Thing, Observer, 30 June 2002

I thought it might be interesting to view some negative criticism for a change. This is but a sample. I'm not sure I agree fully with Mars-Jones on Brookner's grammar. I knew Alison Light when she taught me Woolf and Lawrence at university. I would try to convert her to Brookner, but she was having none of it. She served, I remember, tea in very large teacups. Her Mrs Woolf and the Servants is much recommended.

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