Tuesday 6 June 2017

Rendering of Accounts

'You're mad, Alan. You're a fantasist.'
Altered States, ch. 15

Here Sarah and Alan meet for the last time. The meeting has many of the hallmarks of a final showdown, such as novels are supposed to conclude with. But Brookner, like James (and the ending of The Sacred Fount - 'My poor dear, you are crazy, and I bid you good-night!' - is of relevance), makes of these conventions something of her own. The meeting in fact becomes a tussle over the future of Jenny, whose strange story has shadowed Sarah's. In the end Sarah fades into her habitual silence and inaccessibility, declining every overture, every over-thought Brooknerian sally:
'It was always too late. You were too slow, too innocent.' 
'And it's the fate of innocents to be massacred, or so we're told.' 
'Just leave me alone, will you?'

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