Tuesday 6 December 2016

What Anita Knew

She was not aware of loneliness so much as of endeavour: her future career as a writer, of which there was as yet no sign, would, she thought, in time validate her entire existence. Until then she would adopt - had already adopted - a regime which would steel her against rejection and disappointment ... friends were a burden for which she had neither the time nor the inclination. Her own silence, her own solitude seemed to her entirely preferable. It was with relief that she entered the empty flat in the evenings; after eating her yoghourt and her apple she was free to read or to write in her diary ... She had a vision of a writer's life as clean, economical, controlled. The lack of a subject bothered her until she remembered that she did not need to think about this matter until she was forty. In the meantime she composed a list of aphorisms and quotations ... She trained herself to be cynical although she still missed her mother,of whom she thought with pain and terror.
A Closed Eye, Ch. 16

When it was published, critics thought Lizzie a self-portrait, or at least a portrait of the Brookner-style artist in embryo. As such she might be seen as a counterpart to Jane, referenced in the previous post. I think, rather, she is her counterpoint. For Brookner writing was a much less conscious, much more organic, much murkier process than Lizzie supposes. One thinks of Maffy in Incidents in the Rue Laugier:

I am inclined to favour indirection, which has its own power.
Ch. 15

One wonders whether Lizzie ever will begin her grand project. She might find, at forty, like Ruth Weiss, that literature isn't all she believed it might be. As ever one can never be sure of Brookner's allegiances. Lizzie may be a parody, even a self-parody; she may not be. Only Brookner knows, and we'll probably never get to the end of what that is.

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