Saturday 25 February 2017

Other Women's Drawing-rooms

...those who did not rely on their inner resources, as she had been obliged to do, were forever condemned to weep in other women's drawing-rooms...
Incidents in the Rue Laugier, Ch. 13

There is often much to be said of, much to be learned from, even a single line. Maud's emotional continence, not to say her chilliness, is succinctly expressed. It is interesting that it is women, not men, who provide the venue for undignified prostration: Brookner is not, we may recall, a member of the sisterhood. And such outbreaks take place, Brookner implies, not in living-rooms or lounges, but in drawing-rooms: there is, as so often in English fiction, a class aspect to the thing.

Varied attitudes and assumptions are thus constructed and communicated. Finally there is the line's mandarin structure or style, which gives it the force of a quotable maxim. Brookner's messages are always austere, but the elegance of her medium shores her against absolute ruin.

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