Saturday 1 April 2017

Insiders and Outsiders

Throughout the obedient years of childhood he had privately observed that God was unjust, or, even worse than that, He was indifferent. To the pronouncement, I am that I am, went the unspoken addendum, Deal with it. Boasting to Job of His omnipotence, His superiority to Job's peaceable sinless life, He offered no justification for any of this, merely issued a report. And Job had acceded, perhaps because it is preferable to be inside than outside, silently making his accommodation with the idea of injustice, of disproportion. And had been rewarded for his docility with the restoration of his fortune, as if he had let bygones be bygones.
Strangers, Ch. 1

I see this passage as a companion piece to Brookner's earlier essay on the Book of Job. Her interpretation, her indignation, remain consistent, though her language has grown refreshingly modern: Deal with it. It is interesting too to get Brookner's view on a key Brooknerian theme: insiders and outsiders. It's better, Brookner says, to be inside than outside, though she knows some acceptance of injustice, even of atrocity, may be demanded. It is part of her skill that she goes no further here. Lesser writers might have made more of this; Brookner leaves the matter hanging resonantly in the air.

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