Saturday 11 March 2017

Ils sont mal élevés, ces gens

After dinner we watched television, the same American serial that all England had been watching.
'Pouah!' she uttered. 'Ils sont mal élevés, ces gens.'
Leaving Home, Ch. 8

Brookner plays her little games with the reader. She has moments of vulgar excess, but she can't quite bring herself to name names. (Leaving Home is, elsewhere, an exception in this regard, when it names Coronation Street, a favourite of Emma and her mother. They watch it 'gravely', hoping to glean 'pointers to modern life'.)

But the American serial: what is it? There's a similar reference, I think, in Lewis Percy. It seems almost inconceivable that Brookner ever sat down to watch Dallas or Dynasty, but of course, as she said, she lived in the world. And with a disparaging comment in untranslated French, she can always undermine the moment, and feel superior and be more civilised.

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