Monday 6 March 2017

Not Quite Decent

Brookner's writing is powered by binary oppositions. In her literary and art criticism the battle is not often between eighteenth-century good sense and the effects of the succeeding Romantic debacle.
To confine sick writers to the symptoms of their disease may be fascinating, but it is not quite decent. There may be a terrible justice in Flaubert, high priest in the temple of Art, being downgraded to the subject of a learned article about the difference between hysterical and epileptic convulsions. But none of this quite explains Madame Bovary.
'Sick Servants of the Quill', Soundings

'Not quite decent'? Or not quite Romantic? Does Brookner, as elsewhere in the essay, favour rational medical interpretations, or does she endorse Romanticism's belief in the sanctity of the artwork, the specialness of the artist? As ever it is the potency of Brookner's divided loyalties that makes her writings in a range of genres so interesting and so provoking.

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