Saturday 8 April 2017

An Only Life seemed to him a terrible thing to live without witnesses, as if he had failed to make good the inevitable deficiencies of both past and present, had never created a family of his own, so that he was haunted by a feeling of invisibility, as if he were a mere spectator of his own, his only life, with no one to identify him, let alone with him, in the barren circumstances of the here and now.
Strangers, Ch. 3

Later in Strangers Brookner quotes Larkin's 'Home is so Sad', last referred to in A Private View. This time she acknowledges Larkin, actually uses his name. For a fan like me, it's a moment to treasure. In the quote above, too, I get a Larkinian thrill. His only life. I'm not sure what Larkin means exactly by 'an only life' in the following lines from 'Aubade', nor indeed why Brookner makes the point as she does. But some connection is surely in operation.
The mind blanks at the glare. Not in remorse
- The good not done, the love not given,time
Torn off unused - nor wretchedly because
An only life can take so long to climb
Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never;
But at the total emptiness for ever ...

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